Did I Damage My Plant By Pruning Too Early?
I have a Tardiva Hydrangea. There was a snowstorm last week in Palatine, Illinois and it caused my plant to droop over -came back upright next day. Leaves/flowers turned brown and crumbled when touched. I pruned back yesterday. Did I prune too early? Pruning is to be done early winter or spring. I do not have a picture at this time. I cut each branch down to between 10-12 inches high. The stem is not dead as inside is still greenish/white which indicates it is alive.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Since they bloom on new wood, you wouldn't have cut off any buds. But pruning this late can encourage new growth on the shrub, which could die back during winter. If you see a really cold snap coming, you could cover the shrub to protect it.
The cold fronts from Canada have produced unusual fall weather in the Midwest this year. In a normal year, I wouldn't expect the plant to be fully dormant at this time. It makes sense to rely on what the plant is telling you instead of a calendar. However, cold damage isn't the same thing as dormancy so most years, wait until mid-December through mid February to prune. What will really throw things out of whack this year is if late Nov to December are warmer than normal and induce some plants to break dormancy. To minimize damage from late warm spells, mulch plants with 3-4 inches of chopped leaves, straw or shredded wood mulch. I think your panicle hydrangea will be fine.