hydrangeas

can i buy hydrangeas, and keep them in a more compact form? if i cut them down, do i do this in the spring? has anyone tried this successfully?
thanks, rosie
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Attempting to bonsai a hydrangea usually means it'll never bloom, though likely a real expert could pull it off. There are dwarf cultivars, however, like "Pia" "Little Lamb," the "Cityline" series each named for European cities ("Berlin" "Venice" "Paris"), "Pink Elf," and an oakleaf dwarf called "Sikes."
As to pruning, most hydrangeas would rather have only their dead branches removed. Most hydrangeas bloom on old wood so would have the young branches thinned out late spring or summer, which'll make the blooms even bigger. The buds are formed the previous year so if you take the old wood, you're taking the flowers. New buds form August or September so pruning right now would keep the shrubs from wasting energy making buds on limbs you remove. There are lots of kinds of hydrangeas and this advice may not apply to all; the oakleaf in particular would have a completely different instruction.
As a generality even if you decided to forgo a year of blooms and hard-prune a hydrangea, it'll grow back as big as before, depending on the age and size of the root system, not on how abusively pruned it gets.
-paghat the ratgirl
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Hydrangeas extremely easy to clone. Little clones I planted last fall are flowering and half the size of their parents. In small bunch of this years clones, one is blooming. If you wanted to treat them like annuals, you could do this. Otherwise I agree with Paghat.
Frank
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The most compact form that comes to mind is Hydrangea involucrata Siebold - somewhere between 1 metre and 1.3 metres.
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You can prune them like a hedge to keep them smaller. They are incredibly vigorous growers, at least around here (Oregon Willamette Valley). I do this in the very late winter. There's one on the north side of my house that I cut back a foot or more at the end of every winter. It is still full of blooms in the summer (and has grown back to the size it was before I pruned it).
Utopia in Decay http://home.comcast.net/~kevin.cherkauer/site
Kevin Cherkauer

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