Hydrangeas That Bloom On Old Wood

By: Jennifer LaMontagne – Horticulturist – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI

Last week’s topic was hydrangeas that bloom on new wood.  The subject for this week’s article is hydrangeas that bloom on old wood.  Blooming on “old wood” means that buds will flower on the wood grown in the previous season. This means that these types of hydrangeas should be pruned, not in early spring like the smooth and panicle varieties, but rather after they have finished blooming in mid-summer.

 To determine which type of hydrangea you have, make note of when it flowers.  Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood often begin flowering in early summer as opposed to hydrangeas that bloom on new wood in mid- to late summer.  

To keep the shrubs looking nice, you can snip a few of the oldest or tallest stems near the soil line and clip off spent blooms just below the flower head.  Old canes often produce smaller flowers, so pruning these will improve the appearance of the shrub.  Winter protection is important for these types of hydrangeas.  

An example of a hydrangea that blooms on old wood is the Oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia).  The 5 to 8-foot tall Oakleaf gets its name for its oak-shaped foliage that turns to beautiful mahogany colors in autumn.  This hydrangea provides visual interest in all four seasons with browned blooms and cinnamon-colored peeling bark remaining in winter, grayish green foliage in spring, and deep green leaves and conical-shaped flowers that range from white to pink in summer.  Keeping the soil moist is important and a layer of mulch will help retain moisture. 

Another type of hydrangea that blooms on old wood is the Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris).  These unique woody vines have fragrant white lace-cap flowers and attractive foliage that vigorously grows up any structure and needs no trellis due to its clinging habit.  These can grow up to 80 feet long.

Some types of hydrangeas bloom on both new and old wood.  Take the Bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) varieties, such as the Endless Summer series and the Let’s Dance series, for instance.  The flower colors range from pink, blue, or purple, and in some varieties by changing the soil pH, the flower color can change.  Shrub sizes range from 2 to 6 feet tall.

Another type of hydrangea that blooms on old and new wood are the Mountain varieties (Hydrangea serrata), which includes the Tuff Stuff series.  This variety is known for its lace-cap flower clusters that bloom in mid-summer and foliage that turns red or burgundy in the fall.  Shrub sizes vary from the 1 ½ -foot tall Tiny Tuff Stuff to the 3-foot tall Tuff Stuff.

Stop in today to get your strikingly gorgeous hydrangeas!  Bloch’s Farm has many varieties available!  Call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. You can also check out our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and be our friend on Facebook.  Don’t miss out on this weekend’s sale!  June 19th – 21st Father’s Day Sale!  20% Off Trees!

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