How to Prune Hydrangeas

There are quite a few kinds of Hydrangeas and, of course, each has its own preferences for pruning. The good news is that each is quite low maintenance if you know “who” needs what.

Hydrangea macrophylla: Also known as Bigleaf Hydrangea (Like Endless Summer or Niko Blue) and usually the Hydrangea people are most interested in the blooms of. Bigleaf Hydrangea only blooms on OLD wood, so pruning should only be done directly after it’s done blooming in the summer. Of course, you can cut branches for bouquets and vases at any time.  You may remove pieces that are dead in very late spring as well. Winter protection can protect the old branches (and blooms) for the next summer.

Hydrangea arborescens: The best known Hydrangea arborescens (or Smooth Hydrangea) is Annabelle. Smooth Hydrangea only blooms on NEW wood, which is the complete opposite of the above Hydrangea. Cut down all the branches in early spring.

Hydrangea paniculata: Panicle Hydrangeas, like Limelight, flower on NEW wood but do not require being cut down to the ground each year. You can safely cut them back ⅓ on the top and sides and they will spring back into place, covered with blooms. Or leave them alone and let them tower over you with those great panicles of flowers.

Hydrangea quercifolia: Oakleaf Hydrangeas only bloom on OLD wood. They require no pruning at all and usually do not need winter protection in order to bloom like Hydrangea macrophylla. Prune out dead or damaged bits in late spring.