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It can get a bit confusing figuring out how to prune your hydrangea simply because the methods you use and the timing of it depend on the variety. The most common type of hydrangea is the mophead hydrangea variety as well as the Oakleaf variety. If you are pruning either a big leaf or an oak leaf variety you want to do it after the flowers have faded in the summer. The reason for this is that these varieties will produce new flowers on the old wood, the stems from the previous season.
How to prune hydrangeas in Spring
The flower buds here will actually start to form at the end of summer and then flower afterwards in the following season so you don’t want to prune after August.
- When you prune these hydrangeas only cut away dead wood in the fall or the early spring.
- When you are pruning you can cut one or two of the older stems down to the base so that new branches grow with better fullness.
- If your plant is older or damaged you can prune all of the stems to the base. You won’t get any flowers for the upcoming season but having done that all of the seasons thereafter will produce rejuvenated flowers.
- It is not recommended that you deadhead on larger Mop Heads, meaning removing the faded blooms. The reason being that over the winter these can provide some protection to the new growth underneath. If you have lace caps however you can deadhead at any time.
Pruning other hydrangeas like the panicle or the smooth hydrangea needs to be done before new flower buds are formed. The reason for that is that these varieties will produce blooms on the new wood or the current stems from this season. So you want to prune the plants at the end of winter when the plant is still dormant. If you accidentally kill any of the buds when you are pruning in the winter the plant will still produce new buds in the spring so you won’t have to go without beautiful flowers. In general, though you should only prune dead branches and you shouldn’t prune to try and shape the bush.