Last updated on August 1st, 2019
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Deadheading is a popular practice on many shrubs that produce flowers especially for those gardeners who want their yards to remain aesthetically pleasing. The process of deadheading removes any fading blooms from your shrubs in order to allocate energy in the plant toward new growth and seed production. However, there is also a time you would be better not to deadhead in winter, read on to learn why.
There is a limited amount of energy in any given plant and if it spends most of it continuing to provide for flowers that have already reached maturation, it won’t have as many resources to give new growth for the following year. Deadheading also prevents your shrubs from having that wilted appearance as though they are dying off.
Should you deadhead hydrangeas?
There are different schools of thought about deadheading for hydrangeas in particular. Deadheading is different than pruning but for those who enter change the two terms, it might not seem a useful process. However, it is important to differentiate between the two. Pruning cuts away branches while deadheading simply remove spent flower blossoms. Deadheading is a perfectly acceptable process, one that can help the overall health and well-being of your hydrangeas. It can make a real difference in terms of diverting energy to the parts of your plant that require more growth.
When to deadhead hydrangea
You should deadhead your hydrangeas throughout the entire blooming season so that once a flower has bloomed, it can be removed to encourage new blossoms and to keep your hydrangea looking fresh. The method you use is contingent upon the time of year that you are choosing to deadhead your hydrangea.
If you are doing it sometime in the early spring or summer, before the month of August, you should cut the spent blooms with a longer stem. You should cut the stem back as short as you want but be cognizant of the small buds on the locations where the stem meets the larger branch. These small buds are the new plant growth already taking hold. If you cut these accidentally you won’t have the same beautiful blooms the following season.
If you are deadheading your hydrangea in August or anytime thereafter you have to be much more cognizant of where the new buds are growing along the stems. Check underneath each set of leaves from the faded bloom all the way down the stem. Snip off the spent bloom well above the buds that you see.
There is only one time of year where you should avoid deadheading your hydrangeas. That is during the winter. It may not be the best time to cut your hydrangea right before winter because at this point the blooms for the following spring will be growing directly below the old dead blossoms and those old dead blossoms might provide a bit of protection against to the harsher, cold winter elements for the new buds.
As you are doing this it is in your best interest to keep denatured alcohol nearby, usually on a cloth so that you can wipe your pruners clean in between each cut. This will prevent any disease from spreading throughout the bush.