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How To Prune Hydrangeas

September 10, 2015 by Kristen Hansen, Garden Center Group Leader
How to Prune Hydrangeas

Adding color and texture to your landscape can be fun! Purchasing and planting flowers is exciting, but it’s important to think about their maintenance as well. We compiled tips for how to prune hydrangeas to best maintain healthy plants.

Pruning is a healthy practice that involves selective removal of parts of a plant. Seasonal pruning will maintain the shape of your plant allowing new, fuller flowers to grow each year. Each plant has different needs, which is dependent on its type and variety. Below we’ve provided brief descriptions of various classes of hydrangeas and the pruning directions unique to each.

If you aren’t a DIYer or don’t have time, keep our personal gardening crews in mind. We are happy to come to your home and help you prune your flowers, shrubs and trees plus spruce up the rest of the landscape if you so desire.

Hydrangea macrophylla – A big leaf hydrangea, this species grows flowers in the same spot each year. It should be pruned just as the flowers begin to fade. An example of this variety is the Endless Summer Hydrangea which grows up to 3-5 feet tall and wide and changes from blue to pink depending on the pH of the soil.

Hydrangea paniculata – this variety has large cone-shaped groups of white flowers which sometimes turn pink as the bloom ages. The most cold-hardy hydrangea, this type is great for low water areas of the garden. Paniculata should be pruned in late winter. Thinning the plant leaving only five to 10 primary stems allows for fuller flowers in the spring. An example of a paniculata hydrangea is Angel’s Blush which can grow up to 8-12 feet tall and 6-10 feet wide.

Hydrangea arborescens – A smooth hydrangea characterized by rapid growth, this flower can be cut down to the ground in late fall or early spring. An example of arborescens hydrangea is Invincibelle Spirit which typically grows 3-4 feet tall.

Climbing Hydrangea – Several species are considered climbing hydrangeas and can grow to be 60 to 80 feet tall by climbing up trees, rock faces, bricks, etc. Though a climbing hydrangea might need time to establish itself, it will grow very quickly once it does. Climbing hydrangeas should be pruned in early spring to control growth and maintain shape. Any loose hanging parts should also be removed.

Hydrangea quercifolia – An oak leaf shrub with peeling bark, this type is best known for large leaves that turn beautiful shades of red, orange, brown and purple in the fall. Flowers will grow white at first but then develop a tinged pink color with age. These hydrangeas should be pruned after flowering to allow flowers to grow in the same spot the next year. An example of a quercifolia hydrangea is the Snow Queen which can grow up to four to 5 feet tall and 5-6 feet wide.

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