Can you deadhead oakleaf hydrangea?

The flowers of the oak leaf hydrangea are brown now, but if you leave them in place, they add winter interest. Donna, the reader who sent in this question, said she looks forward to the burgundy leaves in autumn. Photo courtesy Donna of Tonawanda

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Here’s a question from a reader:

Hello , I was wondering if you know if it would be OK for me to deadhead my oakleaf hydrangea or if that would negatively affect next year’s blooms somehow. Seems OK to me but thought I would check before I do it!

Donna,

Town of Tonawanda

First: Deadheading means cutting off the dead flower.

I’m not a gardening expert, but there are lots of gardening experts in Western New York. (See more information below.)

For this question, I contacted David Clark, a nationally known gardening educator who teaches the Horticulture I and Horticulture II classes at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.

It’s actually better to leave the brown blossoms in place, Clark said. Leaving the spent flower in place protects next year’s flower bud from cold temperatures and drying winds over this winter. Besides, the dried flower will add some winter interest to your garden.

Clark recommends this for all hydrangeas, not just oakleaf hydrangeas.

How to get information for yourself

Readers often contact me with questions that I can’t answer. I’m not a gardening expert– I’m a writer by profession. I interview knowledgeable people in order to provide you with great articles on Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com.

So when someone asks a question I can’t answer, sometimes I post the question and rely on my readers to share their expertise by leaving a comment.

Sending a question to me to post can be helpful if you’re looking for a wide range of opinions and don’t mind waiting for the answer. If you want to try this route, email the question to me at connie@buffaloniagaragardening.com and I’ll pose it to my readers in an upcoming issue.

However, don’t send me questions:

  • To find out what is wrong with your plant
  • To identify a particular plant or insect
  • If you need an answer quickly

To find out specific information like that, it’s best to do what I did here: ask an expert. You can ask the Master Gardeners with Cornell Cooperative Extension or turn to your local garden center. They can give you the information you need.

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