Even experienced gardeners may hesitate before picking up secateurs to prune their hydrangeas. Some types are pruned now, some later, some rarely — which is which?
The timing of pruning depends on the species. Those that bloom on new wood, such as smooth or mountain hydrangea (H. arborescens) and panicle hydrangea (H. paniculata), are pruned early. Oakleaf; climbing; and bigleaf, hortensia, lacecap, mophead (different common names used for H. macrophylla) bloom on old wood and are generally pruned minimally — if at all — after they bloom. For more details on pruning hydrangea, see “Pruning on Your Mind” and “Bountiful Midsummer Flowers: Hardy Hydrangeas“.
During a warm sunny day this week, I cut back our half dozen ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas to about 18 inches (45 cm) above ground; some gardeners go as low as ground level. Each year, I try to remember to prune them in late winter (or very early spring, depending on your perspective), when the leaf buds are just beginning to swell but before they open. However, sometimes I get busy with other tasks and they go unpruned, or they’re pruned a bit later. No great harm is done, although I end up with fewer, smaller flower heads.
Hummingbirds on the move
If you’d like to keep abreast of this year’s hummingbird migration, here’s a neat map you can bookmark to follow their movement across North America.
Hummingbirds tend to return to the same area — even the same feeder or garden — as the year before, so you’d best be prepared for them. Here’s a list of their favourite flowers and other tips. You’ll want to have a healthy meal ready to welcome them home.
St. Patrick’s Day is near, which may mean green beer and soda bread for some, but for many gardeners, March 17 is considered the traditional day to sow peas. This makes sense because the soil is usually thawed and days are cool, but superstition aside, there are other factors to consider before sowing.
A recent BBC article reports on research that attributes gardening as a factor in the longevity of the world’s centenarians. Other research shows gardening may also lower the risk of dementia, reduce stress and help lower blood pressure. But we all knew that, didn’t we?