maart 18, 2021

Leo Slingerland

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“Leo Slingerland: ‘The big advantage of annual pruning is that your Hydrangea will grow vigorous, healthy new branches every year.”


Meet Leo Slingerland, our breeding specialist:

Leo worked as a scientist for 40 years, studying and improving plant breeding at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. He decided to join Living Creations and share his passion with us. Crossbreeding, experimenting, digging into genetics – Leo brings all his knowledge and experience to our lab and conjures up the most fascinating Hydrangea cultivars. If anyone can give us pruning tips, it’s got to be Leo. After all, he knows the Hydrangea inside out.

First things first Leo: why do we prune the Hydrangea?
‘It’s pretty simple. Once a Hydrangea has been planted, it will grow a bit bigger every year. Annual pruning is needed to keep that growth under control. The big advantage is that your Hydrangea will grow vigorous, healthy new branches every year after being pruned. Beautiful, large flowers are the icing on the cake.’

And what if you don’t prune?
‘Unpruned Hydrangeas can bloom plentifully, it’s just that the flowers will be smaller. If you want your plant to approach the size of a small tree, you should leave the secateurs in the garden shed. And if you decide to prune after several years, you can always use a tree saw. You’ll see huge new growth that same season, plus a lush floral display.’

What’s the best time of year to prune?
‘Between October and April. But only prune your Hydrangea when temperatures are above zero degrees Celsius.’

Okay, understood. What will I need for the job?
‘As long as you have a sharp pair of secateurs and a pair of gardening gloves, you’re fully prepared. This year’s growth will be soft and is only about as thick as a pencil. That’s why the secateurs are perfect for the job. And don’t worry, you won’t need green fingers. Pruning is a breeze; anyone can do it.’

Is there just one right way to prune?
‘You can take your pick from three different methods for the annual pruning fest:

Hard pruning
During hard pruning, branches are cut back to about 3 to 5 cm above the ground. This ensures strong regrowth of long, vigorous branches. Flowering will be a little delayed with this option, but the blooms will be especially large.

Medium pruning
With this option, the branches are pruned back by about half. As the name suggests, you’ll get a medium number of branches. But the blooms will grow as big as the flowers of the ‘Hard pruning’ option.

Soft pruning
Just 10 to 15 cm of the branch are cut back during soft pruning. This stimulates side shoots to grow and flowering will start a little earlier. This method creates several branches with relatively smaller flowers.

Choose whatever option suits you best. Prefer larger flowers? Then go for the hard or medium pruning methods. If smaller flowers are more your thing, opt for soft pruning.’

The job’s done. What do you think of it, Leo?
‘Well done! I’d completely understand if you were secretly rather proud of your pruned Hydrangea. Looking for a pat on the back? Share the results on Instagram, tag @living.creations, and you’ll get that pat on the back from us. Pinky Promise.’