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In contrast to most farm hydrangeas, panicle hydrangeas can be cut rigorously in early spring without endangering flowering. On the contrary, it is particularly lush after a strong pruning.
If you open the roundish thick buds of the flower hydrangea in autumn, you can already see the fully developed inflorescences for next year. If you remove these buds when pruning, you will have to forego flowering for at least a year, at least for the older varieties. The ability to remount has only newer breeds such as the variety groups 'Endless Summer' and 'Forever & Ever'.
Flowering panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata), here the variety 'Pinky Winky'
The panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) are different: They form the flower buds only after the shoot on the so-called new wood. If they are to carry the largest possible inflorescences, cut the flowering shoots from the previous year as far back as possible. The shrubs respond to it with a particularly strong and long new shoot and very large flower buds.
The right cutting time for panicle hydrangeas
So that the flowering period of the panicle hydrangeas does not shift too far into late summer, you should cut the shrubs as early as possible in the year. Panicle hydrangeas are much more frost-hardy than farm hydrangeas, so early pruning from early February is not a problem.
Left: Cut back each stronger shoot to a few pairs of buds. Weak shoots are best removed completely. Right: This is how the panicle hydrangea looks after the cut
Like all hydrangeas, the panicle hydrangeas also bear opposite leaves and buds - this means that there are always two buds on the shoot exactly opposite each other. Cut the old flowering shoot in spring always close to a pair of buds. In the center of the shrub, you can usually put a little more of the old shoots - depending on the taste about three to four bud pairs. The outer shoots can be shortened to one or two bud pairs. Thus, the natural growth habit of the bush remains at least approximately preserved despite the hard cutback.
When cutting, do not forget the lighting
As with the summer lilac, such a pruning leads to a doubling of the flowering shoots each year, as each pair of buds at the intersection grows at the end to two mostly equally strong new flowering plants. If you do not want the shrub after a few years to look like a shaving brush, you should not forget to lighten its panicle hydrangea. In order to keep the number of shoots approximately constant, you should completely remove a previous year's drive with sufficient crown density at each of these distinctive crotches. If possible, cut off the weaker one in the interior of the crown and the one in the edge area that grows into the interior of the crown.
Snowball hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) such as the variety 'Annabelle' (photo) also cut back strongly in spring
After such a strong cut, the panicle hydrangea needs a certain amount of time to grow new buds out of the eyes of the shoot base - so do not worry if the plant only starts to bud again in April. Incidentally, the viburnum hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) is also cut in the same way - it also blooms on the new wood.