When should hydrangeas be pruned

When should hydrangeas be pruned

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Hydrangeas are a beautiful shrub that comes in many varieties and offers outstanding flowers and foliage throughout the spring and summer. But deciding when to give your hydrangea a manicure is based on the type you have and the purpose you are fulfilling. So, when do you prune hydrangeas?

What time of year to prune hydrangeas

Pruning hydrangeas should typically take place after your flowers have grown and before the new bud blooms are showing themselves. Hydrangeas do not require pruning but there are still reasons you would do it. You can leave the plant to grow and thrive and will do so quite well without showing any signs of wear simply because you haven’t given it a haircut.

However, again, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to prune your hydrangea.

  1. You might be pruning simply because the hydrangea is too large and needs to be cut back.
  2. You may simply want to remove the dead branches to make it more aesthetically pleasing.
  3. There could be some branches that are overlapping, crossing one another and causing the plant to grow in an unstructured fashion.
  4. You might be preparing for winter.
  5. Finally, you might be removing cuttings for plant propagation or removing the dead blooms, a process called deadheading.

In these situations the time of year is as follows:

  • Should your hydrangea be too large it is recommended that you prune it back in the early summer or the beginning of fall.
  • If you are removing branches that are overlapping or getting rid of dead branches it is recommended that you do it in the spring or summer. Big leaf varieties should be pruned before August in order to avoid harming any of the new growth. Of course you can choose to do this at any time of the year especially if the branches are dead.
  • If you are preparing for winter you can cut most of the grows back to the ground after fall but before the first frost in your area. Then, of course, make sure that you cover the plant with fleece and cover the base with organic matter.
  • Deadheading is a process you can do whenever your particular variety has already bloomed. Once you see the blooms fading you can clip them immediately below the old bloom but above any new buds.

When to cut back hydrangeas

It is best to cut back your hydrangeas when you are preparing them for winter. Cutting back after the foliage and growth has fallen off and protecting it against frost damage will allow your hydrangea to focus on conserving energy and then regrowing. It will be easier to control the shape in the size in this fashion.

If you have the panicle hydrangea or a Climbing Hydrangea you can cut them back when they can physically gotten out of control. The panicle hydrangea can also be cut back into the shape of a tree unlike the other varieties.

Hydrangeas pruning times

When you go to prune it is best that you do it early in the morning with a good pair of secatuers. You can sterilize your tools in many different ways but you want to make clean cuts whether you are taking cuttings, cutting back branches, or removing dead flowers. If you are hacking away at a branch, for example, you will leave multiple cuts in the wood and you run the risk of accidentally cutting into new, healthy wood where the new bud blooms likely are growing.  So be sure to use very sharp shears or other pruning tools to make incredibly clean cuts. If you plan on preparing your hydrangeas for winter you can save some of the dead leaves and other compost matter to fill in the cage and protects the plants from the cold, but mix them with things like pine needles or oak leaves to add buoyancy.

Below are common pruning times based on plant type:

Common NamesBotanical NameWhen to prune
Panicle hydrangeaHydrangea paniculataLate winter
Bigleaf, mophead, lacecap hydrangeaHydrangea macrophyllaIn summer, after blooms have appeared
Mountain hydrangeaHydrangea serrataIn summer, after blooms have appeared
Smooth hydrangea, Annabelle, SnowballHydrangea arborescensLate winter
Oakleaf hydrangeaHydrangea quercifoliaIn summer, after blooms have appeared
Climbing hydrangeaHydrangea anomalaIn summer, after blooms have appeared

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

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