They call them rejuvination prunings, but there is absolutely nothing rejuvinating (to me) about what I just did to our largest and oldest hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’). She came with the house and is at least 20 years old. She is massive and blooms profusely. She’s given us 4 babies from accidental layering and I adore her.
I just hope she forgives me.
This is a bit misleading as I’d already had to hack out a branch with some suspiciously drooping leaves. You can see another branch in the middle left of the shrub with the same affliction.
Clearly, drastic action would need to be taken. Removing the branch with issues would cause all sorts of aesthetic issues and leave the shrub wildly off balance.
Out came the loppers, pruning saw, and secateurs.
I can’t say I’m thrilled with how it looks, but I do think this is a decent foundation to move forward from. At least I hope it is.
I would have liked to clean up and balance the shape more, but that would have left me without any foliage. With our summer weather as intense as it’s been so far, I didn’t want to hinder the plant any more than I had to. This was certainly not the satisfying sort of pruning job where, once finished, you admire how much better it looks. But, I am hoping this rejuvenation pruning does its job and pays dividends next year.
I did inspect the afflicted branch for signs of Verticillium wilt and I’m not convinced that is the culprit as there was no tell-tale black ring. Though I’m certainly not ruling it out either. Hydrangea isn’t particularly susceptible to it, but it is not resistant. My hope is that removing so much bulk and old growth with give this beauty the perk up she needs and the drooping leaves was more a sign of stress than disease.
I’ll follow up in a week or so with some dilute Comfrey tea and report back at the end of the summer to see how she is doing. Wish us luck!