Everything About Pruning Hydrangeas

Pruning Hydrangeas is important to keep them healthy and growing while improving their flower production. Learn how to prune them correctly.

Pruning Hydrangeas is not a difficult task; you need to do it at the right time of year. You will also need to determine if your shrub blooms on old or new wood. Follow these tips to ensure you’re pruning hydrangeas in the right manner to keep them blooming abundantly.


Old or New Wood? Pruning Hydrangeas

To determine if your hydrangea blooms on old or new wood, keep a tab on its flowers.
Shrubs that produce blooms on old wood, generally begin blooming in early summer and cease blooming by midsummer. Shrubs that produce blooms on new wood generally start blooming later than old-growth bloomers because they must set their buds the same year they bloom. New-wood bloomers will begin to flower in midsummer and continue until frost.


Old Wood Pruning

Pruning hydrangeas in spring

Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood will set their buds for next year, not long after they finish blooming at the current year. Prune these shrubs as soon as the blooms begin to fade in late summer to prevent cutting off next year’s blooms. The sooner you prune an old-wood hydrangea, the better it will be as it’ll give the shrub a time to recover before winter and will produce larger blooms next year.

Prune off fading blooms just below the flower head. Remove any diseased or straggly branches by cutting them off at ground level. Rejuvenate an old shrub by cutting the oldest branches off at the soil level. An old, woody hydrangea, will produce small blooms. Pruning away a few of the oldest branches will energize the plant, enabling it to produce more and bigger blooms.


New Wood Pruning

When should hydrangeas be pruned

Hydrangeas that bloom on new wood takes all the guess-work out of pruning. These shrubs are cut all the way back to the soil level in late winter or early spring. This is called ‘hard pruning’ and enables the shrub to remain healthy, producing more and larger blooms each year.

If your new-wood shrub is old and large, it may subject to ‘flopping’ each year if given a hard pruning. Flopping occurs when the new, tender branches become wet from rain or watering and are unable to remain upright under the weight of the water and blooms. To prevent flopping, space your plants properly and prune new-wood hydrangeas to 18 inches high in late winter or early spring. This will form a network of old, woody branches that will support the new growth, preventing flopping.

23 COMMENTS

  1. I live in the Texas Panhandle. I was delighted when the garden store had blue hydrangeas. But, by the end of summer they bloomed pink. How do I fix it to bloom blue again.

    • Put coffee grounds in the soil of the plant. The coffee changes the ph level which changes the color of the flower.

    • You need a soil acidified to keep the blooms blue. Miracle Grow makes a product called Miracid that works well. Follow the instructions on the package.

    • You can buy fertilizer to change the ph levels in your soil which will change the color of your flowers. Hope that helps!

    • That’s funny because I live in New Jersey & I saw Pink for the first time and wanted to know how can my blue ones turn pink.

    • It has to do with the Ph level in the soil. Look up what to add to the soil to achieve the color you are looking for.

    • If you know someone who has a rabbit, ask them for the droppings. It makes great fertilizer to feed hydrangea in the Fall and through Winter. Ease off in the Spring and Summer when they are blooming.

  2. You have to make the soil more acidic. You can work in some used coffee grounds every few weeks or you can buy some stuff at the garden center to do it.

  3. The color of the flowers on the hydrangea has to do with the type of soil. The more acidic the soil – the bluer the flowers will be – if your soil makes the flowers pink – your soil is more alkaline – you can purchase items for the soil from a greenhouse to aid in making your soil produce blue hydrangeas.

  4. Add a soil acidifier to the soil around the base of the plant. Your plant will only continue to flower blue if you maintain acidic soil. Go to your local garden center – they will be able to help you select the right product and can explain how best to apply it. Good Luck!

  5. Check your soil–if hydrangeas that were once blue are now pink, that is an indication there is too much acidity in your soil. By changing the pH level of the soil, you may have a chance of changing the color of certain varieties of hydrangeas.

  6. Hydrangeas need acidic soil to bloom blue. My mom adds used coffe grounds around her hydrangea and it turned blue. You can also use copper sulfate from a garden center.

  7. I bought really pink hydrangeas this year on purpose They were called something like raspberry sorbet or sherbet anyway I sure hope they stay pink I don’t want blue ones everyone around here has blue I wanted a rich pink.

  8. About 10 years ago, I purchased 5 FOREVER PINK branded that bloomed beautifully for just 2-3 years. Now not much of any blooms. I’ve added coffee grounds and a TriPhosphate additive to the soil. Only one plant responded with just maybe 5 blooms, the other 4 still not producing blooms. Not sure what’s next. It’s Ohio… and the soil is dark and rich looking… not much clay in my landscape beds. Any advice or ideas are appreciated.

    • I too am NW Ohio – mine didn’t have many blooms, but I attributed that to the late frost we had here. Many of my plants and trees suffered this spring and are just now coming out and starting to show growth and green
      Just in the past 3-5 days have I seen activity.

  9. We moved from Virginia to Florida. I had the most beautiful Hydrangea in Virginia, and wanted one at my new home. How do I get a Hydrangea to grow in the sandy soil? I potted one, and it’s leaves are curled up. The one in ground isn’t growing, but has a bloom. It’s leaves look spotted also. I sprayed it with a tree and scrub insecticide, but no change. Any suggestions?

    • Add lots of quality well rotted weed free garden mix…looks like a dense compost …feed around the drip line with good natural fertilizer ie sheep pellets, then top dress with a thick layer of mulch, ensure you keep it away from the trunk, water well.

    • I’m in Tampa and have good luck with Hydrangas. Blue but they are under oak tree and get those leaves. Also make sure they get plenty of water. I remember a woman in Savanna,GA telling me the “secret” to hydrangeas was “hydra, dalin, hydra”….. meaning water. Hydranges.

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