The mild temperatures of this past winter and the absence of a late February early March cold snap resulted in the best mophead hydrangea (macrophylla) flowering in many years.
The mild winter was unfortunately followed by one of the driest summers that we can remember and those beautiful hydrangea flowers went from blue to brown. It is common knowledge that macrophylla hydrangeas should never be pruned for fear of removing next years flower buds. They can, however , be cleaned.
The dry, brown flowers can be removed by carefully cutting them from the stem at the very base of the flower. Cutting here removes the old flower while leaving next seasons flower bud on the stem just below. It is a slow process but very much worth the time and energy. Removing the old flowers also prevents the build up of ice and snow on the shrub which can cause stem breakage due to the added weight. Spring cleaning of macrophylla hydrangeas involves removing dead interior stems and that we will discuss in March.