Bald In The Middle
June 20, 2007 2:32 PM   Subscribe

How do i stop this hydrangea from sagging?

I always see beautiful hydrangea plants that are so full with many many blooms.

Mine does not look like that.

The blooms seem to be too heavy and so the middle is quite bare and exposed. The blooms all sag towards the outside. If i lift up some of the blooms i can see other, smaller blooms just starting to grow, getting crushed by the weight of the older, larger blooms.

I think some pruning might be in order, but my google research has only lead me to more confusion. I'm not sure what type of hydrangea this is and realize that information is important on how to prune. I didn't plant this hydrangea so i don't know about its past care.

A photo of my plant is here.

posted by modernsquid to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Bonus Question:

Can anyone identify the plant that is growing seeming on top of the hydrangea? Its sort of on the upper rightside of the plant. I dont know if its a weed or not and if i should remove it.

Thanks again!
posted by modernsquid at 2:39 PM on June 20, 2007

The plant on the upper right looks like a Lily to me. It appaears to have flower buds on it, so you'll soon see.

WRT the hydrangea, the main problem you have is that the flowerheads are too heavy. The best way to prevent the sagging is to put some stakes in and tie the branches to them. Or (like I do) put a wire mesh hanging basket over the crown of the plant, and train the stems through it.

My parents had a 15 yr old hydrangea growing in the middle of the lawn, that had never been pruned. It was a behemoth of living and dead stems, until one day I pruned it. I took out all of the dead wood, all of the weak, spindly stems, and reduced the rest to about 12" in length. This was in the very early spring. That year, the plant looked a bit sorry for itself, but the year after it was much much better.

Wait until the flowers have died off, or later still, and cut it back quite hard. Leave some growth on, and it'll come back next year with a vengeance.
posted by Solomon at 2:55 PM on June 20, 2007

Also, make sure it's getting plenty of water. Hydrageas are way more thirsty than people realise.
posted by Solomon at 2:56 PM on June 20, 2007

It appears to be the habit of that variety to droop and sag like so since it looks like it is getting a reasonable amount of sun(against the side of your yard, so not full sun all day long?). Solomon have a good DIY suggestion, but there are also many types of products that do the same thing.

As for pruning, there's no need to go all hacker-style on it. After it blooms, cut it back to the next buds you will see swelling below the current ones. Hydrangeas bloom on second-year 'wood', meaning those buds you see after it has bloomed out for the year will bloom next year. If you cut back too heavily you won't get many(or any) flowers next year(some people do this every year?!?). So go easy and with some patience you should have a feel for it in a couple or three seasons.

It looks like a healthy plant, so if you're looking for something more upright go get a different variety and plant it someplace where it will look nice. There are even climbing varieties, though my favorite is the 'Oak leaf' hydrangea :)

[on preview] I second Solomon's note about water. They also like some acidic fertilizer here and there for more blooms(though it appears to be a young plant, so it won't be such a problem this year)

Yup, looks like a Lily in the background. Wait, watch bloom, pick, remove pollen from center of opened flowers and display in a nice vase.
posted by a_green_man at 5:26 PM on June 20, 2007

thank you!

I've tied them to some stakes and trimmed a few off. It looks much better.
posted by modernsquid at 3:35 PM on June 21, 2007

Way late to this one, but I wonder if, when the plant is getting water, a fair amount of it is getting into the blooms and that is weighing it down. I have seen this with many plants.

Also one thing I love about hydrangeas is how fickle they are about their water needs. Since the leaves droop so quickly (never seen the flowers do it though), it tells me to water everybody else.
posted by Big_B at 10:42 AM on June 22, 2007

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