How to Deadhead Hydrangea

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April 2, 2023 by The Citron Review

by Elizabeth Schmermund


Prune only after the rich blooms have paraded under your window and then have turned paper-thin, brown-bag slivers that crumble in your toddler’s tight fist. Cut neatly from the upper stem and remove only the moribund buds—those you had watered and cared for, that heard the shouting from the windows and wilted under the heat. Leave what is living, glorious. They will brittle, too, but for now watch their showy parade. The buds you’ve severed from the vines will not rebloom. You must live through the winter first. Through the times of undecorated sticks that reach from the Earth, when our lives remain fallow and we forget what time the sun rises. Next season the buds will reappear; arising sometimes from the point of severance but often everywhere else. 


Elizabeth Schmermund is a writer and professor at SUNY Old Westbury. She has published work in various venues, including The Independent, Gyroscope Review, Months to Years, and Le Roi Fainéant among others. Her first poetry chapbook, titled Alexander the Great, is forthcoming in Spring 2024 from Finishing Line Press. You can view more of her work at




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