Hydrangea massacre

By December 8, 2020 No Comments

Slow down

Power shears have their place in landscape maintenance work, especially now in winter when we have miles of cedar hedges to shear. But in this blog I will build a case for slowing down and considering your targets.

Now, I know that home gardeners have tons of time for their gardens and some even prefer not to prune their Hydrangeas until spring. When frost hits the spent Hydrangea flowers the result can be stunning. Definitely worth a picture.

Things are different in commercial landscape maintenance where there is pressure to get lots done in a day. That’s why some landscapers aren’t shy about massacring their Hydrangeas with power shears. But are they really saving time? I think not.

Massacre post-mortem

Power shearing Hydrangeas shreds the woody tops, leaving them looking rough. And there are other problems. For example, the sheared bits are launched all over the place; and the beheaded flowers gets lodged inside the shrubs. The clean-ups are annoying and time-consuming.

Shredded bits get launched all around the shrub.

Now, consider hand pruning. Here you hold on to each cane before snipping at the correct height and just above a pair of buds. The snipped top stays in your hand so you eliminate time-consuming clean-ups. Simply put the eliminated cane top into your green waste bin or tarp and move on.

Power shearing isn’t targeted so it can damage existing buds or leave long stubs. This isn’t how we achieve a good-looking flowering shrub.

Power sheared Hydrangea. Note the flowers lodged inside the shrub.

Shredded plant tissues look awful

A major limitation

One major drawback of using power shears on Hydrangeas is that you can’t take out the biggest canes; or at least not easily. It’s always a good idea to take out 1-3 of the biggest canes every year. This keeps the shrub looking good with mostly younger straight canes. Power shearing can’t accomplish this step.

Every year eliminate 1-3 of the biggest canes.

Peace, not massacres

Power shearing Hydrangeas in a rush means you miss out on quiet gardening work. I love hand snipping because it’s quiet and allows me to touch the shrub. It’s almost peaceful and it doesn’t generate any air or noise pollution. Turn off your power shears and prune your Hydrangeas by hand.

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