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.

75 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.

      • There is also a fertilizer to turn them pink if you prefer. They will generally always go to whatever your soil acidity is—unless you fertilize regularly.

    • 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.

        • 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.

    • I wish I could help, just wanted to tell you I have a rosebush that is normally red, but one year it had GORGEOUS yellow flowers too!😮😊

  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.

    • Why? I cut mine back every year to about 1-2 ft tall and have never had an issue of them growing huge and blooming. They grow taller then me.

  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.

    • If everyone around has blue then the local soil is probably acidic so you’ll get blue hydrangeas. The lighter coloured hydrangeas, like white or limelight which has a lime tinge, also vanilla fraise aren’t too fussy about soil type.

      • Carol, I bought my hydrangeas that were blue earlier this year & by the time they were planted, they’d changed to the limelight. Is that normal? How do I know whether my soil is alkaline or acidic with them staying the limelight color?

  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.

    • Fertilizing with 15-30-15 fertilizer with help get those big gorgeous blooms. Here in Zone 5A (southern Québec) I fertilize my hydrangeas weekly in the spring through June, then monthly July – September. In the fall, until frost, I’ll fertilize every two weeks.

  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.

  10. For most ANY plant to grow well in Florida soil you must amend it by adding ‘store bought’ soil to your plantings. Home Depot or Lowe’s will have what’s needed. If you purchase a Hydrangea at one of these stores, it’s necessary to repot into a larger pot for success. Good luck!!

  11. I purchased three big beautiful hydrangeas one white blue pink. Waited for the weather to warm to plant them outside and now I wish I had not. They look horrible. The leaves are crusty the pinky flowers are kinda brownish the blue has gotten smaller in size and the white it’s well crusty leaves. I about to dig them back up aND bring them back inside.

    • Me too‼️ I live in lowa and my hydrangea hasn’t bloomed in 2 yrs. Beautiful foliage but no flowers. It’s on the east side of my home

  12. Hello all! I live in WA and I’ve seen deep red mop head hydrangeas in my neighborhood. How can I get to that color? Is it probably a special type or it was also soil controlled? I have purple and blue. And now starting a pink and white in pots

      • I chop up my expired vitamins with iron around base result beautiful vatiety link and blue party flowers of blooms . I live in Fl zone 8 West side, under an Hess Avacado tree in a pot.

  13. I have two blue hydrangeas, this is the sixth year. the first year they were covered with blooms, second year not so many and haven’t bloomed since. they are huge and healthy looking but no blooms..what should I do??

    • Make sure you know if they bloom on old wood or new wood. The type of Hydrangea will help you determine this. i.e. Do you have Big Leaf,Mophead etc. Then cut them back at the appropriate time. Also, if you get Freezing weather, cover your plants around the sides with Burlap or black Plastic, leaving the top open

    • I also had your problem! I discovered that MOST people do with this cultivar! I’d finally had enough after five – seven years of bloom- jerked it out and it broke into half’s – told them to “bloom or die “& put each half in each hole and the next spring one bloomed!
      It is really NOT THE BEST VARIETY!

  14. My Hydrangeas are never ending bloomers, but not this year. I had one bloom on my biggest one. Lots of leaves the plant looks healthy but no blooms. I’m thinking the hard spring frost must of damaged it. I did trim it after the frost. Did I cut away the possible flowers? How do u tell if the buds are good or not? The wood seemed to be dead,there were hollow inside.

    • During the winter I save my eggshells and grind them up into a course powder. In the spring I sprinkle around the base of the hydrangea. This really increases the amount of blooms. As others stated, the color is influenced by the acidity of the soil.

  15. Hydrangeas seem to thrive on the coast of Wa. State. Probably because of all the rain. We throw our orange, lemon and lime peels in the soil under the Hydrangeas, Rhodadendrums, Azaleas and Maples. I don’t know for sure that it makes a difference, but they do really well here.

  16. I only had 3 blooms last year and no blooms this year. I’m reading in this thread to cut back old wood stems to the soil for more productive blooms the following year. I didn’t prune too late last year (mid July). I’m just not sure what I’m doing wrong. The leaves look great but no blooms.

  17. We live in the Rocky Mountains of CO, a difficult place to grow almost anything! But, about 5 years ago we decided to try Endless Summer Hydrangeas, as zone 4 on the tag covered us at our local nursery. We were so excited! We had blooms the first couple of years, but not since. Nice foliage, but no blooms. Our soil is alkaline. We put them to bed carefully each winter, surrounding their root balls with leaves housed in a cage. They come up every spring, but because they don’t bloom, how can we determine if they bloom on old or new wood? Therefore, we don’t know how to prune them. HELP PLEASE!

  18. I did not prune by hydrangea year before last and last summer it bloomed and bloomed. So last early Spring – late February, I cut it back to the base. This summer is has gotten huge with green leaves, but no blooms. I don’t know why and I want it to start blooming again. I have put bloom buster products on it and nothing. I thought maybe I cut old wood, but I can’t figure out if that is the issue or not. Can anyone help?

  19. Moved into a Master Gardener’s overgrown yard. After 5 years of taming the beds my hydrangeas have stopped blooming totally. Last year I covered thinking the hard winters were responsible. No luck. I am not sure what type of plants they are, but think they are new wood blooming. My husband wants to pull them out. But they leaf out great, full and huge plants. Don’t want to give up yet. Any suggestions? I’m I am in zone5 thanks.

  20. Can you categorize a plant as “new wood” vs. “old wood” in the plant’s first season? I just planted 2 this May and they are starting to get unkempt with their shape plus I want to deadead properly. Both have had just a few flowers and are still blooming now but they started in July, I assumed since I planted them very young.

  21. I bought a new blooming bush about 2 weeks ago. Now it has brown spots on the leaves and 1/2 of the blooms turned brown. I live in Missouri. I water it every day. It was in high sun at the nursery so I put it in a 6 -8 hour sun spot. It looks dried up and dying. I have it in a pot. Any suggestions?

  22. I live in Nova Scotia Canada, I have 1 huge hydrangeas in the same place for over 35 years. Doesn’t seem to matter how far back I prune it or when. It blooms every year, huge blooms that are so heavy i have to stake it. Never do a thing for fertilizer ect., but I may try for a blue and put something acid on it next year.

  23. Go to any garden centre and buy aluminum sulphite in a box or bag (about 7 bucks). Dissolve some in water as per instruction and feed the hydrangeas with it after they’ve been watered. Do this once a week once they start blooming. Not all hydrangeas will turn the colour blue you might want. Some varieties are more likely to. Pink and those that start out blue will turn various shades of blue and purple and be more successful. Cheers!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here