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How to Prune Climbing Hydrangeas

Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala) is a woody vine that produces a multitude of lacy white flowers in early to midsummer. The vine establishes itself slowly, but once the roots are established, the vines can climb quite quickly. Climbing hydrangea requires only minimal pruning to keep the vines under control and remove dead wood.

The vines can be quite heavy and require substantial support and may need pruning for this reason. If there is ample support, climbing hydrangea vines can grow to be 60 to 80 feet tall. The aerial roots will attach onto vertical masonry, brick and wood walls and fences. They can also grow on trees without damaging the tree.

Allow the plant to grow unrestricted until the roots are well established and the vine is climbing. During this time, prune only to remove damaged or dead vines. Climbing hydrangea can take up to five years to establish.

Direct the vines to suitable support materials for climbing. The aerial roots will cement themselves to the support and can be hard to remove, so make sure they land where you want them.

Clip flowers for drying or indoor use as desired or remove spent flowers after blooming. This is not necessary, particularly in tall vines that are difficult to reach, but it does tidy up the plant.

Decide on boundaries for the plant. Prune climbing hydrangeas as needed to control growth in the early fall after blooming is completed. Use clean, sharp clippers or pruning shears to remove vines that are growing out of bounds and restrict climbing hydrangea to the desired area.

Prune away dead and damaged vines, cutting back to a healthy bud.

Remove all debris to the compost heap.

Planting Distance For Climbing Hydrangeas

The climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. As this variety is tall and narrow, the vines are generally planted 2 to 3 feet apart. This shade-tolerant vine produces 5-inch-wide flowers which begin blooming in early spring and into summer, providing a bright contrast to the glossy green leaves. Commonly known as the Japanese hydrangea vine, the Schizophragma hydrangeoides is not a true hydrangea, although it also belongs to the Hydrangeaceae family. A deciduous vine, the Japanese hydrangea scrambles up walls by adhesive rootlets, spreading up to 30 feet wide and equally tall when mature. Hydrangeas prefer a moist, well-drained, acidic soil, although they tolerate neutral to slightly alkaline soils. Hydrangeas are not drought tolerant, so adding a 4-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant, pulled 4 inches out from the stem, helps maintain a consistent moisture level in the soil.

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