We have a beautiful, healthy climbing hydrangea that was here when we purchased this home. I have no idea how to care for it. Does it need any clipping like a hedge or best to just let it go. Looking at the top, should it be clipped down at all? Any help is much appreciated!
How fortunate you are to have such a healthy, well-established climbing hydrangea – the botanical name is Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris. It is a vigorous vine that benefits from regular pruning to keep it from taking over. Your support structure looks quite sturdy in your photo but be aware that this vine can become quite heavy if not maintained. Early in the spring, you can remove the dead flower heads and any dead or damaged wood but hold off on maintenance pruning, that is the pruning of live growth to control size till after the vine has bloomed to avoid removing the current year’s flower buds. Next year’s buds will form soon after blooming.
Should you need to cut the vine back significantly, remember the general rule of thumb when pruning to remove no more than 1/3 of the vine. You may sacrifice the next year’s blooms with such a vigorous pruning, but the overall health of the plant will not be affected. Climbing hydrangea can even be cut back to the ground in situations such as when a support structure needs to be replaced and it will regrow over time.
Climbing hydrangea likes partial to full shade but can tolerate some sun. Well established vines such as yours are drought tolerant so supplemental watering should only be required during periods of prolonged drought. Adding some mulch around the base of the plant will help to maintain moisture and control weed growth. The mulch will break down overtime and add nutrients back into the soil. Make sure the mulch does not come into contact with the vine as holding moisture against the woody stem can lead to rot.
If you’d like to read more about climbing hydrangea, I’ve copied a link below to some information from the Missouri Botanical Garden.