How To Prune Hydrangeas
How To Prune Hydrangeas
Hydrangea Growth And Pruning
Hydrangeas are immensely popular flowering bushes that are a common feature in many backyard landscapes. These ornamental shrubs are grown for their large, showy flower clusters that bloom in a range of colors, including white, pink, blue, purple, and red. These colors can be changed and influenced by soil pH, making the plant exceptionally versatile.
While hydrangeas tend to grow well in many areas of the United States, some routine maintenance is necessary to keep up healthy, consistent blooms. Along with a regular schedule of watering and fertilizer application, pruning is also essential to hydrangea growth.
(Featured Image: Pink Hydrangea by Debra Roby)
This post contains links to our top 3 pruner options – based on pruners we have actually tested in our own yard. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through these links, thank you!
When To Prune Hydrangeas
The best time to prune hydrangeas depends on the specific variety of hydrangea that you have. In general, there are three main types of hydrangeas: those that bloom on old wood, those that bloom on new wood, and those that bloom on both old and new wood.
When To Prune Bigleaf Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood, such as bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla), should be pruned after they have finished blooming in the summer. This is because these hydrangeas set their flower buds in the fall for the following year’s blooms, so if you prune them in the spring or winter, you risk cutting off the buds and losing next year’s flowers.
When To Prune Smooth Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas that bloom on new wood, such as smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens), should be pruned in the late winter or early spring before new growth starts. These hydrangeas bloom on new wood, so pruning them in the winter or spring will encourage new growth and more flowers.
When To Prune Oakleaf Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas that bloom on both old and new wood, such as oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia), can be pruned in either the summer after they have finished blooming or in the late winter or early spring before new growth starts.
How Often Should Hydrangeas Be Pruned?
It’s important to note that not all hydrangeas need to be pruned every year, and some may only need light pruning to remove dead or damaged wood. It’s always a good idea to research the specific variety of hydrangea you have to determine the best time and method for pruning.
What Is The Difference Between Old Wood And New Wood?
The difference between hydrangeas that bloom on old wood versus new wood is related to when they set their flower buds.
- Old Wood: Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood, such as bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) and mountain hydrangeas (Hydrangea serrata), set their flower buds on the previous year’s growth. This means that the flower buds for the current year’s blooms are formed in late summer or fall on the stems that grew the previous year. If these hydrangeas are pruned in the fall, winter, or early spring, the flower buds may be removed, and the plant may not bloom that year.
- New Wood: Hydrangeas that bloom on new wood, such as smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) and panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata), set their flower buds on the current season’s growth. This means that the flower buds for the current year’s blooms are formed on the new growth that emerges in the spring. These hydrangeas can be pruned in the fall, winter, or early spring without risking the removal of flower buds.
- New And Old Wood: Some hydrangeas, such as the Endless Summer series (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’), bloom on both old and new wood. This means that they set flower buds on both the previous year’s growth and the current season’s growth, allowing for more flexibility in pruning time.
Understanding whether a hydrangea blooms on old or new wood is important for determining when to prune and how to care for the plant. It’s always a good idea to research the specific variety of hydrangea you have to determine the best pruning practices.
What Are Some Of The Best Tools For Pruning Hydrangeas?
The key to successful pruning is to start with the right tools. It is very important that you are using pruning shears that are very sharp and clean to avoid accidentally causing an infection through bacteria introduction. Hydrangeas can be sensitive to different types of bacteria, or too much trauma to the plant.
I can’t emphasize the importance of investing in high-quality tools enough. Gardening is a science when it comes down to it, and the key to healthy, thriving plants is starting with the right tools. These are our top 3 picks for pruning shears that everyone should have accessible exclusively for the use of pruning:
These are a heavy-duty version of your classic pruning shears. The titanium blade ensures a sharp cut every time, while the precision bypass feature helps give you an easy, clean snip. These shears open extra wide to accommodate larger branches, while the textured grip gives you extra leverage.
My experience with this pruner was overall positive, it even ended up unexpectedly being one of my favorite new tools last year. The pruner itself is heavy-duty, you can notice the quality the moment you hold it in your hands. The ratchet feature is what really sold me – the EZ Kut pruner features a ratchet function in the handles that makes each cut way easier. This is a great option for anyone that struggles with grip strength or simply has a lot of pruning to do.
I know, electric pruning shears sound like something you don’t need. But trust me, you need them! These shears are a must have for any avid gardener, especially when it comes to annual pruning. Save your hands and get more done in a day with some extra power added to your shears. These are a perfect option for anyone with arthritis or other hand and wrist pain!
Why Should You Prune Hydrangeas?
There are several reasons why you might want to prune hydrangeas:
- Control size and shape: Hydrangeas can grow quite large and may become too big for their location. Pruning can help control their size and shape, keeping them more manageable and in proportion with their surroundings.
- Promote healthy growth: Pruning can help remove dead, diseased, or damaged wood, promoting healthy growth and reducing the risk of pests and diseases.
- Encourage more blooms: Pruning at the right time can help encourage more blooms. For example, pruning bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) after they finish blooming can help promote new growth and more flowers the following year.
- Rejuvenate an old plant: Over time, hydrangeas can become woody and less productive. Pruning can help rejuvenate an old plant by removing some of the old wood and encouraging new growth.
- Maintain a tidy appearance: Pruning can help maintain a tidy appearance by removing spent blooms and shaping the plant.
It’s important to note that not all hydrangeas require regular pruning, and some may only need light pruning to remove dead or damaged wood. It’s always a good idea to research the specific variety of hydrangea you have to determine the best pruning practices.
Prune Hydrangeas For Fresh Growth
Pruning flowering shrubs is the best way to encourage new growth and ensure you are getting maximum blooms out of your plant. Pruning is also essential to the health and growth of hydrangeas.
Once you’ve identified what type of hydrangea you’re working with, choose your timeframe for pruning. In the spring, you’ll notice new buds starting to form on the branches that have been pruned. Enjoy a full season of new growth and big blooms on your freshly pruned hydrangea!