Hydrangea care, specifically pruning, doesn’t have to be complicated. Honest. Even those who have been gardening for years still have questions about how to prune hydrangeas.
Discover our secrets to pruning hydrangeas.
Hold Up! How to Prune Hydrangeas
Hone in on Hydrangeas. Before you prune hydrangeas, you need to know which type you have. If you planted a hydrangea from our Hydrangea Guide, your answer is just a click away.
Take the quiz below to find out what type of hydrangea you have and when to prune.
Does your hydrangea bloom most of the season?
- Yes? You have a new variety of hydrangea, such as an Endless Summer. If you’re planning on re-shaping, prune in fall after the final blooms. However, you can prune these at any time.
Does your hydrangea have blooms in early summer that fade away by mid-summer?
- Yes? You have a bigleaf, modheap, lacecap or oakleaf hydrangea that blooms on old wood. Prune these right as their flowers begin to fade to maximize next year’s blooms. Whatever you do, don’t prune in the late fall, or you’ll remove next year’s flower buds.
- Pruning Old Wood Hydrangeas. Cut off any dead, diseased or deformed canes. Also, remove any branches that rub. Cut canes off close to the ground. If the hydrangea is older and has smaller blooms, remove up to 1/3 of the oldest canes. If the hydrangea is too tall, cut off the tallest canes.
- If yes, you’re the proud owner of a panicle or smooth hydrangea that blooms on new wood. Prune in winter or early spring before they start growing.
- Pruning New Wood Hydrangeas. For the biggest flowers, prune shrubs to the ground. Over time, this pruning method weakens the plant. If you want to keep hydrangea’s long-term health in mind, cut back canes to 18-24”. Also, prune canes to 18-24” if you’ve noticed your hydrangea flops to the ground due to heavy blooms.
Do you have a climbing hydrangea that grows upward?
- If yes, prune in late spring or early summer. Skip pruning during their first year, though.
- Pruning Climbing Hydrangeas. When pruning, remove any dead, diseased or rubbing branches.
P.S. You can still can deadhead hydrangeas at any point.
There you have it! Now you know how to prune hydrangeas. Impress your friends with this knowledge or by teaching them how to change hydrangea color!
Learn all of our hydrangea secrets in our hydrangea growing guide.