When to deadhead hydrangeas

When to deadhead hydrangeas

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Hydrangeas are a beautiful shrub, one that is known for the quintessential blue and pink blooms of the mop head and lacecap varieties. These shrubs can grow almost anywhere with very little maintenance and their blooms are stunning. Some varieties don’t just stop there, they offer beautifully colored leaves throughout the fall. But what about when the flowers have died? What do you do then?


Once your hydrangea flowers have died you can remove them and this is called deadheading. Deadheading is very similar to pruning but rather than getting rid of stems or branches you are simply getting rid of the dead flowers to make way for increased growth the following year. Deadheading is very popular as a method of keeping the hydrangea well kept and otherwise aesthetically appealing.

When to remove dead hydrangea flowers

When to remove the dead hydrangea flowers is based on the type you have.

Panicle Hydrangea

If you have the panicle hydrangea this is very tolerant of dryer conditions and can be formed into the shape of a tree. As the panicle hydrangea blooms get older they start to change in color so you might notice that they start out as a white or light pink and then they become a rose color or reddish color. In order to encourage these blooms to come back, you want to remove the flowers as they start to fade.

Take a set of sterilized pruners and snip off the fading flowers. If your shrub needs to be shaped you can prune the entire shrub after all the flowers have bloomed but make sure, once again, that you keep your pruning tools sterilized before you use them. With the panicle hydrangeas, blooms grow on new wood so cleaning up the blooms from the current year won’t have a detrimental impact on the flowers you get next year.

Bigleaf Hydrangea

If you are growing the big leaf hydrangeas, these are typically the lace caps or the mop heads. The flowers on these plants appear in the late spring and the early summer. You don’t have to remove the faded blossoms from these plants but you can remove dying flowers to clean up the appearance of the shrub.

To do this make sure that you snip off the stems directly below the dying flower and directly above the new buds that are developing on the stem. With the bigleaf hydrangeas do not prune or deadhead after July because the shrub requires time to create new buds on the old wood. If you try to go in and start cutting away the old flowers after August it might impact the number of blossoms you get the following year.

Smooth Hydrangea

If you are growing smooth hydrangeas the flowers come in the early summer usually in the middle of June. Most of the time the blossoms remain in effect for up to two months. The blossoms will appear on new wood each year so you deadhead your plant anytime once those flowers have faded. Most people do this in the spring.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

If you have the Oakleaf hydrangea the blossoms appear between May and July starting out white in color and turning pink depending on the type you have, eventually reaching a brown color. The Fall foliage offers beautiful reds and oranges. These blossoms show up on the old stems so if you want to remove dying flowers you need to do it directly below the dying flower blossom and directly above the new developing buds so that you don’t impact the growth you get the following year.

Climbing Hydrangea

If you have a Climbing Hydrangea the blooms will appear some time between the end of June and the beginning of July. The flowers will show up on old-growth much the same as the big leaf hydrangeas so you don’t want to prune the blooming stems but you can carefully remove dying blooms without disturbing the new buds.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

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