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Hydrangea Pruning

Hydrangeas can be broken down into two main types, those that bloom on Old Wood and those that bloom on New Wood.  The prunning methods are drastically different for each of the two types.


1.) Hydrangeas that Bloom on Old Wood - set their flower buds for the next year the previous summer.

  • Mopheads (Hydrangea macrophylla) 
  • Lacecaps ( Hydrangea macrophylla
  • Oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia)


2.) Hydrangeas that Bloom on New Wood - set their flowering buds on the current seasons growth.

  • Paniculates (Hydrangea paniculates)
  • Endless Summer Series (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Endless Summer')
  • 'Annabelle' (Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle')



Pruning Tips


1.) Blooms on Old Wood:

   - Old Wood consists of stems that have been on the plant since the summer before the current season.

   - These Hydranges set their flower buds for the next year in August, September or October. 

  Pruning basics:

   1.) All dead wood should be removed every year.  This can be done at anytime of the year.

   2.) After the plant is 5 or more years old, remove 1/3 of the oldest canes, by cutting them down to the ground, to rejuvenate the plant.  This can be done in early spring or at the end of the summer.

   3.) Pruning plants to control size should be done in June or July before the plant starts to set flowering buds for the following summer.   

   4.) Deadheading = removal of old flower heads.  Deadheading can be preformed anytime of the year. 

  • In June or July, deadheading can be preformed with long or short stems with out worrying about removing next years flower buds.
  • After August, deadheading should be preformed with short stems to preserve next years flower buds.


2.) Blooms on New Wood:

   - New Wood consists of stems that have developed on the plant during the current season

   - These Hydrangeas set their flower buds during the spring and summer of the current season.  These flower buds open the same season that they are produced.

Pruning Basics:

   Annabelle Hydrangeas- bloom in the spring and early summer

  • Prune in the fall or early winter to control size.  This can be done in two ways:

      - 1. cut entire shrub back to a few inches above the ground.  Beware, that this method will cause the new stems to be thin, which may lead to flopping under the weight of the large flower heads.

       - 2. cut shrub back by 1/2 and remove 1/3 of the oldest canes each year.  This will allow the remaining branches to thicken up and reduce the need for staking once the shrub is in full flower.


   Hydrangea Paniculatas - bloom in summer and fall

  • The only type of Hydrangea that can be pruned into a tree form
  • Can be pruned in fall, winter or spring
  • Does not need to be pruned every year except to control size
  • Crossing branches should be removed each year
  • Cut other branches to train shrub into a pleasing shape


   Endless Summer Hydrangea - bloom late spring, summer and fall

  • Remove all dead wood.  This can be done anytime of the year.
  • Once the plant is 5 years or older, remove 1/3 of the oldest canes by cutting them done to ground level to rejuvenate the plant.
  • Prune to control size in early spring or late fall.




Written By:

Jessica Groleau

Amherst Nurseries 

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