Pruning Tips: When to Prune Hydrangeas

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

It can be quite confusing when it comes to pruning hydrangeas. There are some that need to be pruned during late winter or early spring, and there are others that need to be pruned during the summer. In general, you may prune out any dead wood at any given time to reduce or prevent infestation and disease, as well as to promote new growth. In this article we will tell you what you need to know to help you identify when to prune.

Hydrangeas that Bloom in Late Summer

If your hydrangea blooms on new growth, it will need to be pruned close to the end of winter or early on in the spring. You need to prune it before the hydrangea begins to have active growth. There are several varieties that fall under this category including

  • Limelight
  • Quickfire
  • Burgundy Lace
  • Snowball Varieties (H. arborescens)

Hydrangeas that Bloom during the Summer

Almost every other variety other than the ones listed above (or any others that fit that description) will need to be pruned during the summer once they finish blooming. For the most part, these hydrangeas bloom on “old wood,” which is the previous growth from the year before. It is important to prune them during the summer, because if it is done in the spring, it could potentially risk cutting off the dormant flower buds. When pruning a Hydrangea in the summer after the blooms have faded, it allows time for the buds to set for the next year.

The oakleaf and bigleaf hydrangea, including pink and blue flowering cultivars, bloom from the buds of previous years. To prune or maintain the size or shape of these Hydrangeas, do it in the summer as well.

Other Hydrangeas, such as Endless Summer and Blushing Bride, should be pruned during the summer as well. These varieties in particular are unique since they both bloom on new and old wood.

Hydrangea Prune ChartQuick List:

  • Hydrangea Arborescens – Smooth Leaf Hydrangea
    • Blooms off of new wood / can be cut back in late fall-winter
  • Hydrangea Macrophylla- Big Leaf Hydrangea
    • Remove dead wood in late spring after new growth come out
  • Hydrangea Paniculata – Panicle Hydrangea
    • Blooms on new wood / prune in fall or spring
  • Hydrangea Quercifolia – Oakleaf Hydrangea
    • Flowers on old wood so prune after flowering
  • Hydrangea Anomala Subsp. Petiolaris – Climbing Hydrangea
    • Blooms in June for 4 to 6 weeks

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