My husband and I recently bought our first home, and we have big, beautiful hydrangea bushes in our yard, when is the best time to prune them?
– Kristen W. Ridgefield, CT
Congrats on your new home! Hydrangeas are super popular around here. They are easy to care for and beautiful when in bloom. Typically, they will flower from mid-spring through the late summer or early fall. Some people don’t feel the need to prune their hydrangeas. However, if you don’t, they will eventually resemble a tangled mass of woody stems and the flowers will become much smaller and not as colorful. If your hydrangeas aren’t blooming, lack of pruning is most often the reason. Pruning, or cutting off parts of the plant that are dead, not only helps to maximize the blooms and promote new growth, but ensures they survive throughout winter. I recommend pruning your hydrangea in the late winter, early spring. During the winter months leaving the dry, tan flower heads makes your landscape look nice, so I wait until March to do any pruning. You should cut ¼” above a bud to redirect growth or shorten branches. You should also cut one or two of the oldest, weakest stems at the base to encourage new growth, which will have better blooms. If your bushes are getting too big, woody, or unruly, you can cut all the stems to the ground – but beware, this means they won’t bloom again until the following year!
I live near a large lake, and I’ve seen Bald Eagles around more often than usual, is it mating season?
– Mark S. Redding, CT
Bald eagles are by far one of the most majestic birds. If you have ever gotten a glimpse of one out in the wild, they are just incredible! Living near a lake means you have a better chance of having a resident bald eagle than most because their main food source is fish. Bald eagles typically mate for life and their mating season in the northern states begins in January. This mated pair will, in most cases, use the same nest year after year. These nests are quite impressive. Made of large sticks and often lined with plant stalks, moss, lichens, and grass, they measure 4-6 feet across and 3 ft deep. The female will lay 1-3 eggs in February and March and the pair will take turns incubating the eggs for approximately 35-40 days. If you are lucky enough to spot a bald eagle nest, be sure to keep your distance, federal law requires you to stay 330 feet away from these protected beauties!