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“Help! How do I prune my hydrangea!”

The Issue at Hand:

Hydrangeas are one of those plants it is hard to remember how to grow. Do not misunderstand this, however. I do not mean that hydrangeas are hard to grow. They are among some of the easiest plants to grow, but we forget how to care for them. And unfortunately when we think we do, we generally get it wrong. But how do you prune hydrangeas?

But before we move on to the how to prune hydrangeas, we must note that there are different types of hydrangeas. This article covers primarily on the Big leaf (macrophylla) and Mountain hydrangeas (serrata). These are the 2 hydrangeas that people have the most problem with. They are the one which we prune because they look like they should be pruned.

These hydrangeas grow more like a perennial than a shrub. Beyond that, throughout the winter and into early spring, they look dead. But this is not the case. Not only are they alive, but they need this wood to bloom.

And this brings us to the question at hand: “how do I prune my hydrangea?”

How do I prune my hydrangea?:

Now that you have identified your hydrangea as one of the ones that bloom on old wood, how do you prune them?

The short answer is that you remove the old flowers, remove the old canes, and clip back the tips that do not grow back in the spring. Let us look at how to do each of these.

    1. The Old Flowers:

      When it comes to pruning off the old flowers, you have a few different options of when it can be done. Some people prune them when they are old and others prune them off later, some people even waiting till late winter to cut them off.

    2. The Old Canes:

      This is a thing that most people forget to do. Out of the 3 things that are on the list, this is the one that takes the longest, but it should not be forgotten. It helps make sure that hydrangea is revived. It rejuvenates the plant and makes it grow better.

    3. The Dead Tips:

      After the hydrangeas have started growing back, you may find that the winter has caused some branches to freeze back a few inches. If you see that this is the case, you can prune back those tips. In some cases, you might also do this to give your hydrangea a more uniform shape.

Have you ever made the mistake of pruning back your hydrangea or have any further thoughts? Comment below.