Limelight pruning primer
Q: I have 124 Limelight Hydrangeas in my yard (it’s a big yard). They are 8 years old. I’ve pruned them every winter. They bloom profusely and are in great shape. My question is: Can I skip a year pruning them, and, if so, how might that impact them?
Greg Kubala, via email
A: Wow, that is a huge planting — and a lot of pruning! You don’t have to prune them every year. Limelight is a cultivar of the Hydrangea paniculata, which blooms on new wood. Pruning can help make for a stronger, less crowded plant structure and can encourage more productive blooming wood.
Unpruned plants can get leggy and weak, causing branches to bend or break from the weight of the blooms. When you do prune, do so in late winter or early spring before the new growth begins. If you prune every two or three years, remove the largest third of the branches back to just above the base of the plant. For the branches that remain, you can remove the top one-third or so of the branches. Make those cuts just above a pair of vegetative buds. You can find more information on pruning at https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/HO/HO-4-W.pdf.
Jim Dandy to the rescue
Q: Last winter, I lost the male winterberry bush, Jim Dandy. The three female winterberries I have are Red Sprite. I am having trouble finding a replacement for Jim Dandy. Is there another variety that would pollinate the red sprite that might be more easily available?
Shirley Weidner, White County, Indiana
A: Jim Dandy is the recommended male pollenizer for the Red Sprite winterberry because it is the earliest to flower and has the maximum amount of overlap with Red Sprite’s flowering season. Apollo and Raritan Chief are male cultivars that are not quite as early as Jim Dandy, but should have at least some overlap in bloom time with Red Sprite. But your best bet is Jim Dandy.
Tipmont REMC consumer B. ROSIE LERNER is a longtime Indiana Connection contributer who recently retired as Purdue Extension’s consumer horticulturist. Questions about gardening issues may be sent to “Ask Rosie,” Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606, or use the form at IndianaConnection.org.