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Plant of the month - Hydrangea

Looking good this month Available now, large choice of Hydrangeas in a range colours

How to Prune a Hydrangea

Pruning Common Hydrangeas

The most common garden hydrangea shrub is the Bigleaf variety, Hydrangea macrophylla. (See more below.)

Bigleaf (H. macrophylla), as well as Oakleaf (H. quercifolia), are pruned AFTER the flowers fade in the summer. These varieties bloom on the previous season’s stems (“old wood”).

  • Flower buds actually form in the late summer and flower afterwards the following season, so avoid pruning after August 1.
  • Only cut away dead wood in the fall or very early spring.
  • To prune, cut one or two of the oldest stems down to the base to encourage branching and fullness.
  • If the plant is old, neglected, or damaged, prune all the stems down to the base. You’ll lose the flowers for the upcoming season, but also rejuvenate the plant for future years.
  • It’s best not to deadhead (remove faded blooms) on the big Mopheads; leave them over the winter and cut them back in early spring (to the first healthy pair of buds). It’s fine to deadhead the Lacecaps; cut down to the second pair of leaves below the flower head.
  • When growing H. macrophylla (and H. serrata) varieties in Zones 4 and 5, do not prune unless absolutely necessary, and then do so immediately after blooming. Otherwise, remove only dead stem in the spring.

Pruning Other Hydrangeas

  • Panicle (H. paniculata) and Smooth (H. arborescens) hydrangeas are pruned BEFORE flower buds are formed. These varieties blossom on the current season’s stems (“new wood”).
  • Prune in the late winter when the plant is dormant. This means that if the buds are killed during the winter, the plant will produce new buds in the spring which will produce blooms.
  • In general, prune only dead branches, and do not prune to “shape” the bush.

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