Pruning Hydrangeas: Ask Shirley Garden Questions

by / 4 Comments / 3128 View / February 3, 2015

One of the most popular questions I get is "When do you prune hydrangeas?"

Who said you HAVE to prune hydrangeas?



This question was posted on the Home & Family show Facebook page, and I answered it on the show recently.


Lene Brown of Pennsylvania wrote:

"I had a problem with my hydrangeas this past summer: no flowers! Could it be because I cut the whole plant back to the ground in the fall?

I have three bushes that never did that before. The bushes got big, beautiful green leaves, but only a few flowers."


My reply:

You probably cut off all your hydrangeas flower buds for next season!

It's important to understand that hydrangeas do not require cutting back unless you have dead, badly formed or crossing stems.

You can also cut off the dead blooms after flowering with no consequence to next season's bloom.

This is simply "dead heading" and is a practice to keep your plants looking tidy and clean.


If you are tempted to prune your hydrangea (to keep it small, or whatever reason), you need to know what hydrangea species (or type) you have, and if it blooms on "old wood" or "new wood."





"Endless Summer" hydrangeas by Bailey Nurseries


Lace cap and mop head type hydrangeas bloom on "old wood," or stems from last summer.

The buds for the following season are produced usually around the end of summer, between August and October,on the SAME stems that produced that summer's bloom!

So, if you prune your lace cap or mop head hydrangeas in the fall, kiss your next season flowers goodbye!



The "Twist N Shout" variety is also the first re-blooming lace cap hydrangea so you can enjoy a long season of blooms!


The exception to this rule applies to specially developed hydrangeas such as the "Endless Summer" series (seen in the two photos above), which puts out blooms on both old and new season stems.





"Limelight" hardy hydrangea by Proven Winners

'Annabelle' hydrangeas (arborescens) and 'Limelights' (paniculata) are hydrangeas that bloom on "new wood" or wood that emerges the same season as the blooms.

Annabelle and Limelight hydrangeas are both white hydrangeas that can take a severe pruning and still bloom the following season.


A word of caution: Don't prune these hydrangeas when it's close to blooming time (June-July), or you WILL cut off the blooms for the summer display!


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4 Comment

  1. HI Debi,

    Thanks for your questiona and for wathing Home & Family!
    1. Remove any fallen leaves from the soil- decay attracts little flies.

    2. Remove (gently) the soil around your plant and replace it with clean, sterilized soil.

    3. Sterilize soil by placing 4″inch thick amount in oven-safe pan, cover with foil, and bake in oven @200 degrees for 30 minutes- no more!

    When soil has cooled, plant your plant.

  2. Surprise!

  3. I live in Michigan and every fall I tried to bring in some plants, so they won't died in the winter.  I clean the pots and change the soil, but I still get little flies.  Tried vinegar , water and soap that has help.  What can I do to not bring those bugs inside in the first place.  .  Love home and family and glad it's back on TV.

  4. Thanks Shirley, I never knew that.  

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