Finally, a little pruning

I've got two 'Lady in Red' hydrangeas in my yard. The original in the front is a reasonable size and fits its space quite nicely. This one in back though, well, it's just too large!


I think it's been in the ground for four years, and I've finally decided to prune it. It's beautiful, but too much for this space!

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I normally don't like pruning shrubs, but will when they encroach on my paths or just get out of hand. This one is hanging way too far over the planting box:


The main thing though is it's blocking the view out from under the deck, and making it really dark under here:


Since the blooms have all pretty much faded (although I like them like this!) I can start cutting:


My pruning method is quite unsophisticated: just start cutting! With hydrangeas that bloom on year-old wood, pruning after all of the year's growth has stopped means you're cutting off all of next year's flower buds. Although there is some new growth I'll be cutting off, I think there's still enough time for the plant to grow more. But if not, it's not a tragedy to me if this doesn't bloom next year -- I just want it back under control!

Before I started cutting, I noticed this guy resting inside:


Closer look please!


It's a robber fly, specifically a "hanging thief" robber fly. I've seen these before in the garden, but they're still fascinating to me -- as most insects are.

Enough stalling, start pruning!

What I did was just picked a size that I wanted the plant to be next year, and then cut about 10" (25cm) lower than that to allow for growth. Maybe I should have gone lower, but I didn't want to be too crazy -- remember this is the first time I've pruned this or any hydrangea and wasn't sure what to expect.

I ended up taking a lot off:


Here's the final result, looking not too bad:



I was expecting most of the foliage to be gone, separated from the plant by my pruners, but it looks pretty good. The view out from under the deck is so much better too:


(By "so much better" I mean that it's actually possible to see out now.)

With so fewer leaves this plant will have lower water requirements now, another bonus in our ongoing drought.

Besides some of the older, woodier branches that were cut, some new growth was removed:


These are beautiful, but more importantly they're at just the right stage for propagation! The stems are just woody enough for easy rooting:


So I'll pot some of these up and see if they take. Hydrangeas are pretty easy to root -- the plant I pruned today was from a cutting I took from the original plant several years ago -- so I expect success.

Today though I'm happy that I finally stopped putting this little task off!

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The Magical Christmas Wreath Company  – (July 29, 2012 at 2:15 PM)  

Thats brave, I'm inspired to give my hydrangeas a haircut this week, they too are getting a little too large.
Paul

Christine  – (July 29, 2012 at 3:51 PM)  

Love the photo of the robber fly! Superb!

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