One of the most asked questions I get about Hydrangeas is, “When can I cut them back and how?”

Before we can answer that, first we need to determine which of the 5 common types of Hydrangea your growing. Each species has its own slightly different requirements.

Old vs New Wood

Step one to knowing the best time to prune hydrangeas is to know if the species your growing blooms on “old” last years growth or “new” the  current seasons growth.

  • Old wood blooming Hydrandeas should be pruned immediately after flowering or very early fall.
  • New wood blooming plants should be pruned late winter early spring.

First up – Bigleaf/Mop Head (H.macrophylla)

Remove up to a third of the stems to the ground. This will leave a combination of Old and new woody stems for a succession of blooms this year and next.

Second – Smooth Hydrangeas ( H.arborescens)

These are a classic and one of the Native to the north east, varieties. We often use these as hedges or in a shady spot as a understory to large shade trees.

Don’t be shy with arborescens. They respond best when cut back to the ground each year late winter or early spring before they begin to form buds.

Third – Panicle Hydrangea ( H.paniculata)

This variety produce large cone shaped flowers early -summer into fall. They also tolerate sunny locations and become drought tolerant once established.

Another variety that thrives on aggressive pruning each year to keep in form, removing 50 % or more of last seasons growth in late winter /early spring will keep these guys full of blooms through fall.

Great as a cutting flower to bring inside also…..

Third – Panicle Hydrangea ( H.paniculata)

Another native selection which blooms on old wood. Oakleafs require little pruning and should be done in late summer or early fall.

Some miniature varieties we use rarely need pruning making them a true “Low” maintenance plant choice.

The last of the Five – Re-Blooming Hydrangea

These are the latest and greatest.. tongue firmly in cheek.. of the mop head or large leafed hydrangeas.

Blooming on old and new wood as well as being less p.H reliant for specific color, make these another low or at least, easy maintenance shrub. Unfortunately deer also love to eat them…☹

Hydrangeas are a true garden staple with a variety for almost any location in the garden and with a little of the proper attention, will provide pops of color through out the seasons.

Feel free to drop us a line if you have questions as to which varieties you may have and how to best care for them..