Mailing List Sign Up

Old Hydrangea Flowers

A Gardening Life – January 1

I don’t usually cut the old Hydrangea flowers off of the shrubs in the fall. Some people don’t like how the brown remains of the blooms look and others worry that the weight of heavy snow held by the flowers might break branches. I’ve decided that I like how the early morning light looks shining through the tan petals. The snow toppings add to this show and in all the years that I’ve grown hydrangeas I’ve never had many branches break.

And honestly? I’m lazy. Since most of these flowers will blow away over the winter I don’t want to spend the time clipping them in the fall. If any remain on the stems in the spring I’ll clip them off when I do my spring clean-up. Karen Baker, from Old Sod Landscaping, calls loose hydrangea blossoms “Cape Cod tumbleweeds,” a description that always makes me smile. Everything has to go somewhere one of the Four Rules of Ecology says, and after tumbling around these old flowers become future nesting materials, worm food, and soil amendments.

On this first day of the New Year I celebrate this shrub and the past season’s flowers. They remind me that in and out of the garden there are usually several approaches to most situations.

The flowers on this Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' do become weighted down by the snow and ice, but not nearly as much as when they are in full flower and there is a heavy rain! This plant has had some stems crack in rain storms but never because of winter snows.

Sharing the Wealth:

If you don’t like the look of dried hydrangea flowers by all means clip them off. You can’t go wrong by removing just the dried blossom itself on any type of hydrangea; this won’t affect next season’s flowering. If you’re removing the pink or blue flowers from lace-caps or mophead types of shrubs, clipping the flowers only (not the stems) will help you to have more flowers next year. If you’re cutting from the white-flowering paniculata types (sometimes called Pee Gee hydrangeas) you can remove as much of the stem as you want without affecting future flowers.

3 comments to Old Hydrangea Flowers

  • C.L.: The deer consume a lot of the dried hydrangea flowers during the tough times for them in winter. Only one problem sometimes they consume the new buds and stems also. Have a hydrangea that is 10 to 12 ft. high and if the snow gets deep enough and crusty they reach the top. Hydrangea is a favorite of the deer.

    Have a great day,

  • admin

    Interesting, John. My deer are so busy rubbing themselves on my willow trees (All species of Salix! Go figure.) that they leave my Hydrangea alone. If the deer are eating your H. macrophylla buds, that’s a problem. Not so much if they’re paniculata, right? Time to get out the Plantskydd!

  • C.L.: The paniculata seems to like the pruning. Some of the others do not do so well after the deer. Have Electric deer fence and have used Plantskydd both help but are not fully effective.