Pruning Hydrangeas in Spring : Should I? Tips and Techniques

Hydrangeas can brighten any garden. Pruning is difficult, but growing and maintaining them is simple. Pruning improperly might harm the plant and limit flowering. In this article, we will discuss the best practices for pruning hydrangeas in the spring to promote healthy growth and maximize their bloom potential.

Understanding Hydrangeas

Understand hydrangea kinds and growth characteristics before trimming. There are four main types of hydrangeas: bigleaf, smooth, panicle, and oakleaf. Each type has its own unique characteristics and pruning requirements.

Bigleaf Hydrangeas

The most popular kind, bigleaf hydrangeas, with huge, vivid flowers. They grow in moderate, humid conditions in Japan. Bigleaf hydrangeas create next year’s bloom buds on aged wood. Bigleaf hydrangeas might lose their buds if pruned at the incorrect season.

Smooth Hydrangeas

North American smooth hydrangeas have cone-shaped white or pink flowers. Smooth hydrangeas, unlike bigleaf hydrangeas, bloom on fresh wood and may be trimmed in autumn or spring without harming flowering.

*As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Panicle Hydrangeas

China-native panicle hydrangeas have huge cone-shaped flower clusters. They bloom on new wood, so they may be trimmed in autumn or spring without harming flowering.

Oakleaf Hydrangeas

Oakleaf hydrangeas, endemic to the Southeast, with cone-shaped flower clusters and oak leaf-shaped leaves. They bloom on old wood, but unlike bigleaf hydrangeas, they may be trimmed in autumn or spring without harming flowering.

When to Prune Hydrangeas

When to Prune Hydrangeas

Pruning hydrangeas at the wrong time can reduce or eliminate their blooming potential. Bigleaf hydrangeas should be pruned in the spring after new growth appears. Wait until the hydrangea plant has started to produce new leaves and buds before pruning. Smooth and panicle hydrangeas can be pruned in the fall or early spring before new growth appears. Oakleaf hydrangeas are less susceptible to pruning than bigleaf ones and may be trimmed in the autumn or spring.

How to Prune Hydrangeas

After learning when to trim hydrangeas, let’s discuss how. Hydrangea trimming requires clean, disease-free cuttings. Here’s a step-by-step guide to pruning bigleaf hydrangeas in the spring:

  1. Dead wood: Check for discolored, lifeless stems. Trim these stems to the plant base.
  2. Live buds are stems with green leaves or buds. Trim 1/4 inch above the first set of live buds.
  3. Avoid water gathering by cutting at an angle.
  4. Avoid plant harm by removing crossed or rubbing branches.
  5. To encourage fresh growth and blooming, remove old flowers and deadheads from the previous season.
  6. Over-pruning might diminish hydrangea blooming. Just prune straggly growth and dead timber.
  7. Sharp pruning shears or loppers create clean cuts without damaging the plant.
  8. To avoid sickness, disinfect pruning instruments using rubbing alcohol or bleach.

Follow the same techniques as for bigleaf hydrangeas, but prune smooth, panicle, and oakleaf in autumn or early spring before new growth starts.

How to Prune Hydrangeas

Tips for Maintaining Healthy Hydrangeas

Pruning is only one way to keep hydrangeas healthy and blooming. Remember these tips:

  • Hydrangeas need wet, well-drained soil, so water them often, particularly in hot, dry weather.
  • Apply a balanced hydrangea fertilizer in spring and early summer to encourage healthy growth and flowering.
  • Mulch around your hydrangeas to preserve moisture and manage root temperature.
  • Frost cloth or burlap might protect your hydrangeas from frost.

Should hydrangeas be cut back in the spring?

Depending on the variety you have and the purpose of the trimming, hydrangeas may or may not need to be pruned in the spring. The most typical kind of hydrangea, commonly known as Hydrangea macrophylla, is one that is often seen in gardens. They develop their blooms on old wood, thus the flower buds are formed on the growth from the previous year.

Bigleaf hydrangeas won’t blossom the next year if they are pruned in the autumn or winter because the flower buds will be lost. Consequently, it is preferable to put off pruning bigleaf hydrangeas until the spring, when new growth starts to show. In this manner, you may see the living buds and prune appropriately.

Pruning Hydrangeas in Spring

Be careful to make pruning cuts one quarter inch above the first group of live buds when trimming bigleaf hydrangeas in the spring. The inside of living buds is green, but the interior of dead stems is brown. Cut stems that are completely dead flush to the root if you come across them.

On the other hand, hydrangeas that flower on new wood may be trimmed in late autumn or early spring, such as the smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens). Pruning throughout the autumn or winter won’t have an impact on the flowers since flower buds develop on the growth of the current year. If you decide to prune in the spring, wait until new growth starts to emerge to avoid unintentionally cutting off any new buds.

Heavy trimming of hydrangeas should generally be avoided since it might result in fewer flowers. Instead of eliminating huge parts of your hydrangeas at once, take a few of the oldest stems each year if you need to restrict their growth. In this manner, the plant may adapt to the modifications gradually and you won’t run the danger of lowering the quantity of blooms.

What month do you cut hydrangeas back?

Since it may affect the plant’s development and blooming, knowing when to prune hydrangeas is essential. Depending on the species and the goals of the trimming, hydrangeas may be pruned at any time.

The majority of hydrangeas blossom on old wood, or on the growth from the previous year. Hence, trimming these species in the autumn, winter, or spring may result in the removal of fresh buds, which will reduce the number of blooms. When they have finished blooming but before August 1st, trim hydrangeas that grow on old wood in the summer. The plant will have plenty of time to produce fresh buds for the blossoms the following year.

The flower buds of hydrangeas that bloom on fresh wood, on the other hand, appear on the growth of the present season. Before they begin to sprout new growth, you may trim these hydrangeas in the late winter or early spring. These hydrangeas’ development will be encouraged by pruning, which will result in bigger, more numerous flowers.

It’s vital to keep in mind that some hydrangeas need just little pruning, but others need more drastic trimming to maintain their health and form. In order to preserve the plant’s ideal size and form, light pruning entails cutting away any dead or broken branches. Cutting the hydrangea down to one-third of its entire mass is known as severe pruning, which is often required when the plant is overgrown or has sustained major damage.

Also, understanding proper hydrangea pruning is crucial. Once leaves begin to appear in the spring, for example, tip-pruning the branches may promote more numerous smaller flower heads as opposed to fewer bigger flower heads. Use clean, sharp instruments while trimming to prevent the transmission of illness among plants.

What happens if you don’t cut back hydrangeas?

Inquiries about whether or not to trim hydrangeas often occur since they are a lovely addition to any garden. Despite the temptation to give your hydrangeas a fast cut, it’s vital to understand that not all hydrangeas need pruning, and that over-pruning might actually result in fewer flowers.

Bigleaf and oakleaf hydrangeas do not need trimming and benefit more from it. These hydrangeas bloom on ancient wood. Pruning may harm the buds that develop on the growth from the previous year, thus these hydrangeas should be left alone as much as possible. If you don’t intervene, they’ll blossom more abundantly the next season. Nonetheless, you may encourage healthy development by gently thinning or deadheading them.

Conversely, hydrangeas that bloom on fresh wood, like panicle and smooth hydrangeas, may be aggressively trimmed without reducing their ability to bloom. Before the start of the new growth season, you may trim these hydrangeas in late winter or early spring. The flower buds for the next year might be damaged if these hydrangeas are pruned in the autumn.

It’s crucial to understand that although pruning might be advantageous for certain hydrangeas, it isn’t required for all of them. You may trim your hydrangea to shape it if it has outgrown its container or is unruly. Yet if they’re in the right spot and don’t need management, you may let them grow unchecked.

Also Read : When to Cut Back Hydrangeas for Winter: A Comprehensive Guide

When should you remove dead hydrangea blooms in spring?

So when should you remove springtime dead hydrangea blooms? As the plant’s initial batch of flowers start to turn brown and dry, that is the ideal moment to deadhead your hydrangeas. This will make sure the plant doesn’t waste energy on making seeds and instead uses it to create new flowers.

Cut the stem of your hydrangeas just above the first set of leaves and below the flower head to deadhead them. By doing this, you can be confident that the plant will continue to be able to bloom without losing any new growth. As the second set of flowers starts to fade on reblooming varieties, deadhead once more. It’s crucial to just do this until about mid-August, however. Cutting off the flowers will impede the plant’s ability to begin energy conservation beyond this point in preparation for the next winter.

By deadheading your hydrangeas, you can maintain the plant looking clean and avoid having any dead blossoms distract from the plant’s aesthetic appeal. It’s also crucial to keep in mind that hydrangeas will continue to develop even if you don’t deadhead them; however, they may not bloom as often.

How far should I cut back my hydrangeas?

It is advised to cut back up to one-third of the older live stems to the ground each summer if you wish to revitalize your hydrangea. The plant will be revitalized as a result, encouraging new development. Before late July, prune the plant if you need to regulate its growth so that the buds have time to grow. The plant usually grows back to its original size right away.

After hydrangeas have just completed flowering, which is normally in late summer, is the ideal time to trim them. At this point, you may take out any dead, diseased, or damaged wood as well as any branches that are crossing or are weak. To create flawless cuts that won’t harm the plant, use clean, sharp equipment. You run the danger of eliminating the buds for the next season if you prune in the autumn, winter, or spring.

It’s crucial to understand that not all hydrangeas need the same kind of pruning. Various types call for various methods of pruning. For instance, smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) may be trimmed when still dormant in late winter or early spring since they blossom on new wood. Hydrangea paniculata, also known as PeeGee hydrangeas, should be clipped in the late winter or early spring whereas Oakleaf hydrangeas, also known as Hydrangea quercifolia, should be pruned right away in the summer after flowering.

What happens if you cut hydrangeas to the ground?

Hydrangeas will reseed themselves if you trim them all the way to the ground. In fact, if they are trimmed down to the ground in the autumn, they will reappear in the spring with an abundance of blossoms. Yet, over time, the plant can get gradually weaker as a result of this severe trimming. While the plant will re-grow, it may not be as robust or healthy as it would have been had the damage not been so severe.

You should be aware that not all hydrangeas need the same amount of pruning. Making your cuts at the incorrect time will actually eliminate the flower buds you are expecting to acquire on bigleaf hydrangeas, which bloom just fine without any pruning. In a same vein, although certain kinds may benefit from being trimmed all the way down to the ground, others need only be pruned in specific ways. For instance, only prune the “Endless Summer” and “Let’s Dance” cultivars after they have flowered on old wood, whereas prune the Smooth hydrangea on fresh wood.

In the event that you want to trim your hydrangeas, late summer or early autumn is the ideal time to do it. This will give the plant ample time to recuperate prior to the arrival of winter. Remove up to a third of the older live stems all the way to the ground each summer to revitalize the plant. The plant will be revived by this. Cut back before late July if required to regulate the plant’s growth so that buds have time to form. The plant usually grows back to its original size right away. But if you’re unclear of how to trim your hydrangeas, it’s better to get help from a qualified gardener or a gardening manual.

Should hydrangeas be cut back every year?

Every year, hydrangeas must be pruned in order to keep them looking well and producing an abundance of blooms. In addition to shaping the shrub to fit the style of your landscape, pruning keeps the plant healthy by getting rid of any diseased, damaged, or dead wood.

According to Better Homes and Gardens, hydrangeas benefit from annual trimming both in terms of their health and the production of blooms. Pruning may help a shrub recover if it has been harmed by the elements or has exceeded its area. The kind of hydrangea you have will, however, determine when to prune and how.

There are two different sorts of hydrangeas: those that bloom on fresh wood and those that bloom on old wood. The ability for the plant to bloom that season may be diminished if pruning is done at the incorrect time and results in the removal of flower buds that have already developed. Pruning is best done for hydrangeas that bloom on old wood in the summer, when flowering has ended but before August 1st. Since these shrubs establish their bloom buds in the autumn, trimming in the late summer or early fall will eliminate the buds for the next season.

On the other hand, hydrangeas that bloom on new wood may be clipped without harm in the late autumn, when the plants have entered a dormant state, or in the early spring, before new growth emerges. Pruning these shrubs in the autumn or winter won’t have an impact on their ability to bloom since their flower buds are established during the current growing season. It’s crucial to understand that not all hydrangeas need yearly pruning. Pruning is not always essential for certain kinds, such as oakleaf hydrangeas.

Can you over prune hydrangeas?

Hydrangeas are a lovely addition to any garden, and although trimming them may be advantageous, doing so excessively can be harmful to their health. Hydrangeas’ new growth and the production of additional flowers may both benefit from deadheading or the removal of wasted blooms. But, excessive trimming may damage hydrangeas and prevent them from generating enough energy to maintain their flowers.

Myers, a gardening guru, asserts that “if you cut ‘Annabelle’ kinds all the way down to the ground, all of the energy held in the roots will go into growing above-ground growth, which is sometimes too weak to maintain the flowers.” Thus even though hydrangeas can take trimming, it’s crucial to only do so when absolutely required.

The kind of hydrangea you have will determine the ideal time to trim it. Early spring or late autumn, after the plants have gone dormant, are the safest times to trim hydrangeas that bloom on new wood. Unlike those that bloom on old wood, this kind of hydrangea can withstand more severe pruning.

Mophead and lacecap kinds of hydrangeas, which bloom on old wood, should be clipped right away after they stop flowering. If you prune these hydrangeas too severely, you risk removing the flower buds that will blossom the next year, which would leave you with few or no flowers. For the sake of the plant’s health, it is still vital to remove any damaged or dead wood.

It’s crucial to use sharp, spotless pruning shears and cut cleanly at a 45-degree angle when trimming hydrangeas. Trim back any stems that are crossing or rubbing against one another, as well as any dead or damaged wood. It’s advisable to cut off one-third of bigger plants at a time when they need to be trimmed back in order to prevent overstressing the plant.

Pruning these bushes annually not only encourages hydrangeas to produce more blooms, but it also enables you to shape them whatever you wish and keeps them healthy if they sustain weather-related damage. The plant should not, however, be over-pruned or have too much of its structure removed as this might prevent it from creating enough energy to maintain its blooms.

How do you take care of hydrangeas in early spring?

care of hydrangeas

The following advice will help you care for hydrangeas in the early spring:

  • Hydrangeas need regular irrigation to produce blooms that are robust and vivid. Throughout the growth season, give your hydrangeas 1 inch of water every week. Make sure your hydrangeas’ surrounding soil is wet but not soggy in the early spring.
  • Mulching: Your hydrangeas will grow best in soil that is kept cool and wet, so adding a layer of mulch underneath them may assist. Mulching shields your hydrangeas’ roots from temperature variations and aids in preventing the development of weeds.
  • Fertilizing: Use fertilizer according to the kind of hydrangea you have. Research the finest fertilizer choice for your plant since different hydrangeas need various kinds of fertilizer. The ideal time to fertilize is often early spring, before the growth season starts.
  • Choosing cultivars with resistant features can help you keep your hydrangeas free of pests and diseases. Watch out for typical pests like aphids, spider mites, and scale insects as well. If you see any infestations, act right once to stop them from spreading.
  • Pruning: The optimum time to prune your hydrangeas is in the early spring. This encourages healthy development and maintains the neat appearance of the plant. But, take care not to over-prune your hydrangeas as this might harm their development and ability to bloom.
  • Safeguard your hydrangeas against snapback frosts, which may happen in the first few weeks of spring. If there may be a chance of frost, cover your hydrangeas with burlap or blankets to protect the tender new foliage.

Early spring maintenance is essential for the health and possible flowering of your hydrangeas. Your hydrangeas will flourish and provide gorgeous flowers throughout the growing season with the proper watering, mulching, feeding, protection, pruning, and frost protection.


To encourage healthy development and maximize their flowering potential, hydrangeas must be pruned in the spring. Bigleaf hydrangeas may be trimmed in the autumn or early spring before new growth emerges, although smooth, panicle, and oakleaf hydrangeas can be clipped after new growth begins in the spring. To stop the spread of illness, be sure to prune with clean cuts, eliminate dead wood, and sanitize your instruments. You may enjoy beautiful, healthy hydrangeas in your yard for many years by using the advice and methods in this article.


  1. Can I prune my hydrangeas in the summer?
  • Pruning hydrangeas in the summer might lessen their ability to bloom, thus it is not advised.
  1. How often should I fertilize my hydrangeas?
  • Your hydrangeas need fertilization twice a year: once in early summer and once in the spring.
  1. Can I prune my hydrangeas in the fall?
  • Hydrangeas with smooth, panicle, or oakleaf foliage may be clipped in the late autumn or early spring before they put on new growth.
  1. Can I prune my hydrangeas with hedge clippers?
  • No, using hedge clippers to trim your hydrangeas is not advised since this may lead to damaged or uneven cuttings.
  1. How do I know if my hydrangeas need to be watered?
  • Moisture-loving plants like wet, well-drained soil. It’s time to water your hydrangeas if the earth surrounding them feels dry to the touch.
  1. How do I protect my hydrangeas from frost?
  • If a frost is predicted, protect your hydrangeas with burlap or frost cloth to avoid plant damage.
  1. How much should I prune my hydrangeas?
  • Cut down any straggly growth and only prune the dead or damaged timber. Avoid overpruning as this might lessen their capacity for flowering.
  1. Can I use regular pruning shears to prune my hydrangeas?
  • Yes, you may trim your hydrangeas with standard pruning shears or loppers; just make sure they are clean and sharp before using.
  1. How do I know if a stem is dead or alive?
  • On the interior of the stem, look for green to signify fresh growth and active buds. The inside of dead stems will be brown.
  1. How long does it take for hydrangeas to recover from pruning?
  • Hydrangeas often need one to two years to fully recover after trimming and bloom.

© 2024 All rights reserved. This content is protected by copyright. Visit for more information.

Related Posts:
Categories: Plants