Hydrangea paniculata (Tree)

(Question)

I have a Hydrangea paniculata that has been planted  in remembrance of a loved one since the fall of 2012. It has turned into a beautiful tree! Unfortunately, I found two major branches that cross and rub quite a bit but have not yet started to wound the bark. Will this affect the growth and structure during its life? Should I prune, wrap, or tie back the rubbing branches this summer. I don”t want my tree to have a large hole with missing foliage.

SAM_7106

(Answer)

Hydrangea paniculata standard trees require a diligent pruning early spring in March or April to maintain what horticulturists call the permanent ‘framework’of a tree. You must remove the excessive growth by pruning every spring or the tree can begin to lose shape, become overweight and cross branches, or eventually snap entirely under its own weight. Plants that are three or more years old must be pruned for not only cosmetic reasons but for structure and consistent renovation.

Remove older branches to the base to stimulate new young replacement growth. Prune one-third to one quarter of the most exhausted and older shoots. You would select the most damaged, rubbing, or least attractive branches. even if you think there would be a hole after pruning such a large branch there will be many replacement shoots to fill in where it is now pruned away. That is the beauty of pruning in early spring when the clean slate of a frame is exposed on the tree.

After you have selected your one-third of older shoots the weakest shoots should be pruned off as well. All remaining dried flower heads from the previous season should be pruned off down to a strong swollen pair of buds. Your Hydrangea paniculata standard tree can also be staked if it is becoming too large and is leaning. Staking while the tree is three years or younger and dormant in early spring is best.