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Hydrangeas are prevalent for their opulent blooms, which distinctively change color as they progress in age. Typically,, during summer, these plants will consistently bloom, producing gorgeous blooms that make a garden statement . Hydrangeas also produce unique dried flower heads, which you can use to make extraordinary flower arrangements in your home.

However, it is intrinsic to know when to prune the plants to ensure they are kept to their maximum potential. Ideally, plants that bloom on old growth can only be pruned after the flowering stage. In contrast, those that will bloom on the new growth should only be pruned in spring or their dormant stage in winter.

Thus, it is not recommended to prune hydrangea in May when it is the fall season. If you want your plants to achieve maximum blooming, avoid at all circumstances pruning them during May.

When do you Prune Hydrangeas?


Ideally, Hydrangeas can grow for multiple years without requiring pruning; however, if you note they are unruly or consuming a bigger area in your garden, it is time to prune them. But when should you prune these plants ?

The big dilemma when dealing with hydrangeas is because some plants will bloom on old wood while others on new wood. When the plants bloom on new wood, their flowers form on the beds formed during that specific season. In comparison, those that bloom on old wood mean that the plant will form flower buds after the fading of previous blooms.

Pruning Blooms on New Wood

The flower buds of these blooms were formed during the spring months. Thus, it would be best to prune these plants before they start forming new growth in the early spring or months of late winter. It would be best if you pruned when you note new leaves are emerging. Some of the plants that form on new wood include:

  • Panicle hydrangeas
  • Smooth hydrangeas

Pruning during the fall months, such as May, is not recommended when the plants are going dormant. When you prune during this time, your plants are at a higher risk of injury as a new growth on the wound can be affected by extremely cold weather. Also, pruning in May will reduce the flowering process of the plants during the next season.

Pruning Blooms on Old Wood

The blooms that form on the old wood should have healthy stems and buds during winter, which will produce healthy blooms in spring or summer. Early spring is the best time to prune your plants where there are dead branches and when your plant has just finished blooming.

When you note your blooms are starting to fade, ensure you prune immediately. Remember, after the blooms have faded, your plants will form flower buds that will produce blooms in the following years. Thus pruning when it is late means you will prune off the following year’s flowers.

When pruning the Big Leaf Hydrangea , ensure you leave all healthy buds and prune off any weak stems on the plant. For the Oakleaf Hydrangea, you should prune in early spring, but you can leave the flower heads during winter if you want to enjoy a visual interest in your garden. Lastly, the Climbing Hydrangea doesn’t necessarily require any pruning. But you can prune them in May when the blooming of the plants has ceased.

Some of the plants that form on old wood include:

  • Oakleaf hydrangeas
  • Climbing hydrangeas
  • Bigleaf hydrangeas

Practical Tips for Pruning Hydrangeas

Typically, all species that bloom on old wood should be pruned after the flowering stage while those on new wood before starting new growth in early spring. When pruning, ensure you remove any damaged stems to facilitate the growth of new wood.

For new wood hydrangeas, you can prune them by a third of their size during early spring. It would be best if you also trim any branches that are growing sideways. For old wood hydrangeas, remove any dry branches or blooms that are dry or have died.

Key Takeaway

Pruning your plants facilitate new growth and will help in better blooming. If you leave your plants unpruned for an extended period, they will become woody and not produce new wood that will support proper blooming. However, for good results ensure you prune at the appropriate period and carefully identify new and old wood.