April 1, 2014


©linda nelson 2014
©Linda Nelson 2014
...on the east coast, that is.  My work season is just kicking in, and I've got my pruners sharpened.  Most of my clients have hydrangeas on their properties, and LOTS of them.  The one pictured is mine, all mine; my little 'Nikko Blue' that could, that does, and that always will.  Unlike the very popular 'Endless Summer' and others that bloom on both current and previous growth, this cultivar blooms only on the previous year's woody growth.  And I prefer that.  Why?  Because the woody stems do a better job at supporting the heavy, mop headed blooms.  I also feel that the hue of Nikko's blooms is more deeply saturated.  My homestead's soil happens to be acidic (and sandy); therefore, I receive blueish "gifts".

Contrary to what many text books tell you as to the correct time for pruning the macrophylla species, April is ideal.  Why?  Letting the old blooms remain on the plant for the winter adds additional insulation and protection from the elements.  It also discourages browsing deer from munching down the stems.  By mid to late April you are able to differentiate the roundish, dense flowering buds from the slender, pointed leaf buds.  This enables you to see what point to prune at, which is just above the highest flowering bud.  The leafy buds can get pruned back just enough to shape the plant to your liking.  I have successfully been using this method for my clients' hydrangeas as well as my own.  I also prune my paniculata hydrangeas in the spring, and boy, do I prune them hard!  Come late August, the flower heads on these guys are the size of footballs.  If you live in deer browsing country and your property is not securely fenced to keep those prancing beauties at bay, get started on a repellant spray routine immediately.  I prefer to use Deer Out because it is people and pet friendly.  It's deer friendly, too; they just don't like the way it tastes.  Experiment to see what product works for you.  Most importantly, spray regularly and diligently.  For some of you, like me, that may mean more often than the product's directions suggest; deer visit my yard on a daily basis.


  1. I have the Nikko blue also and love them. Thanks for the pruning tios!!

  2. I'm glad you found this post helpful, Gail. It won't be long before we will be enjoying 'Nikko' in all its glory.


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