Pruning hydrangeas at the correct time is so important. Follow this guide on when to prune hydrangeas so they have the best chance of producing beautiful blooms.
About half the pruning questions googled are related to hydrangeas.
Do it yourselfers all fear the same thing: Incorrect pruning will lead to a hydrangea that doesn’t bloom. And if your hydrangea doesn’t bloom, then what’s the point of having them.
The confusion is caused because some hydrangeas bloom on new wood, meaning the current seasons growth, while others bloom on old wood, which is last seasons growth.
Adding to the frustration is the fact that in colder climates old wood hydrangeas can fail you, even when you follow the old wood pruning rules. In this article we’ll cover when the different types of hydrangeas should be pruned, and what pruning techniques are best.
Pruning Hydrangeas That Bloom On New Wood
When a hydrangea blooms on ‘new wood’, it means that flowers bloom on flower buds that were formed that season. These flower buds weren’t there during the winter months. Instead they were formed when the hydrangea started putting out new growth in the spring.
New wood hydrangeas are either Annabelle’s (Smooth Hydrangeas), or Panicles, and they require different pruning techniques:
Annabelle Hydrangeas, also known as Smooth Hyrangeas, have stunning white flowers. There are two types of pruning you want to do with Annabelle Hydrangeas:
1. Rejuvenation– This type of pruning should be done in late summer/early fall as blooms begin to fade. Cutting off the faded blooms as well as the top one inch of growth will encourage the plant to produce additional blooms. This type of pruning can be done with hedge trimmers or bypass pruners. This type of pruning is kind of like giving your plant a light haircut.
2. Cut Back– In the early spring, before new growth starts to emerge, you can do a cut back pruning for your Annabelle Hydrangeas. This time your Annabelles should be pruned fairly close to the ground, almost as if you were pruning back a perennial. In fact you can prune them all the way to the ground but it’s best to leave several inches of last years wood to create a support structure for new growth. This will prevent the floppiness you sometimes see from Annabelle Hydrangeas. Your Annabelles will send up fresh growth from the base of the plant and blooms will appear on that fresh growth.
For help identifying Anabelle Hydrangeas, check out this link: Annabelle Hydrangea Identification
Panicle Hydrangeas (also known as Pee Gee’s) are tougher, more adaptable, cold hardy, and more reliable bloomers than hydrangeas that bloom on old wood. One of the simplest ways to identify a Panicle Hydrangea is by it’s cone shaped flowers. There are many types of Panicle Hydrangeas but some common varieties include: Limelight, Little Quick Fire, Vanilla Strawberry, and Pinky Winky.
Pruning Panicle Hydrangeas: Pruning Panicle hydrangeas should be done in early spring when the threat of frost is behind you. At this point you should see some green buds on the branches. Using trimmers, or pruners, cut off the top 1/3, or up to 1/2 of the plant. Although this type of pruning isn’t necessary it will help shape the plant and maintain it’s size since Panicles can get a little out of control if left untouched. This type of pruning will also help encourage new growth and will overall wake your Panicle up!
Annabelles and Panicles are great choices for colder climates (zone 5 or less). While every micro climate is different, a lot of people in these colder climates struggle with getting other types of hydrangeas (hydrangeas that bloom on old wood) to bloom, since frost can kill flower buds.
For help identifying Panicle Hydrangeas, check out this link: Panicle Hydrangea Identification
Pruning Hydrangeas That Bloom On Old Wood
Old wood hydrangeas include Bigleaf, Mountain, Oakleaf, and Climbing Hydrangeas.
When a Hydrangea blooms on ‘old wood’, it forms its flower buds shortly after blooms fade in late summer/early fall. This means that the flower buds and stems of the plant have to survive the winter for you to get blooms next spring/summer. If you’re in a warmer climate, this usually isn’t a problem.
If you’re in a colder climate, this is much harder. Cold winters can cause your hydrangea to die back.
In early spring you could be left with a bunch of dead branches that need to be trimmed way back (pic below). This means you won’t be seeing any blooms this year. This is a common frustration among people from colder regions. That’s why hydrangeas that bloom on old wood aren’t always the best choice for Zone 5 and colder.
Pruning Old Wood Hydrangeas: When pruning hydrangeas that bloom on old wood you have to be very careful with your timing. You want to prune when your hydrangea is just about done blooming for the year. Don’t wait too long. Shortly after blooms fade your hydrangea will start to develop next years flower buds. Pruning too late in the season would mean pruning off next years flowers! Don’t wait for the last bloom to fade, instead look for the plant to be winding down flower production. You’ll notice that the majority of blooms are weak and discolored. That’s the signal to prune.
Also, pruning in the spring and early summer would mean cutting off the flower buds that were set last fall. That’s why your only real safe time to prune is during the quick post flower bloom period.
Once flower blooms have faded, you can cut the top 1/3 of the plant using trimmers or pruners. This will help maintain shape and size.
Selective pruning is another type of pruning that applies to both new wood and old wood hydrangeas.
This means using a pair of bypass pruners and selectively cutting out branches that are dead, diseased, old and unproductive. You also want to cut out branches that are crossing, or touching each other.
Selective pruning can be done in early spring for all types of hydrangeas. Since you aren’t cutting the tops off of every single branch, you don’t have to worry about cutting off all your flower blooms if you have hydrangeas that bloom on old wood. Although, if you’re still nervous you may be cutting off flower buds, you can always selectively prune your old wood hydrangeas after the normal post flowering bloom period in late summer/early fall.
Remember, you’re only making some selective cuts to thin the plant out and get rid of the parts of the plant that are just depriving it of energy. This type of pruning helps prevent your hydrangeas from getting too bushy and overgrown. Bushy, overgrown hydrangeas could struggle to bloom as they mature. Take a look at the video below for some Selective Pruning tips. Notice what the plant looks like after pruning. The hydrangea is left with branches that are upright with plenty of space. There aren’t branches that are crossing, touching, or facing inward:
Deadheading Hydrangeas is when you simply prune off spent flowers, or flowers that are on their way out. By pruning off flowers that are dying back you help the plant focus its energy on producing more blooms, and overall this type of pruning is good for plant health. Use a pair of bypass pruners when dead heading hydrangeas.
This type of pruning can be done to any hydrangea at anytime during the growing season. Once again though, don’t get too crazy with the pruners on your hydrangeas that bloom on old wood if it’s getting late in the season.
What Happens If You Don’t Prune Hydrangeas?
If your hydrangea has plenty of space to grow freely, it may be completely healthy and continue to spit out blooms year after year without you pruning it at all. Other times, neglected hydrangeas can become overgrown and even worse they may stop blooming. A big reason why a lot of more mature hydrangeas fail to bloom is because the plant is spending a lot of its energy on leaf production and supporting older, unproductive parts of the plant. Thinning out older branches and weaker branches, as well as maintaining a healthy size and shape will help keep your hydrangea focused on flower production.
Why Are My Hydrangeas Not Blooming?
There are 7 main reasons why your hydrangeas aren’t blooming:
- Having hydrangeas that bloom on old wood in a colder climate where they die back during harsh winters, or flower buds get damaged from frost.
- Pruning hydrangeas that bloom on old wood after the flower buds have developed.
- Plant is not mature enough.
- Fertilizing with a high nitrogen fertilizer will encourage the plant to focus on green leaf growth instead of flower production. Instead use a fertilizer that’s meant for hydrangeas such as Holly-Tone 4-3-4.
- Not enough sun for Panicle hydrangeas. Panicle hydrangeas bloom best with 4-5 hours of sun. However If in southern zones avoid afternoon full sun exposure.
- The plant is overgrown and has too many branches. This will make the plant focus on leaf and shoot growth and less on flower production.
- Deer have eaten flower buds.
Hydrangeas That Bloom on New and Old wood
Want to make things really easy? There are a few hydrangeas that bloom on both new wood and old wood. These include Endless Summer Hydrangea, as well as Proven Winners ‘Lets Dance’, and ‘Tuff Stuff’. Planting these varieties makes it a lot easier to avoid pruning mistakes.
Hydrangea Identification Help
If your hydrangeas are in bloom then identification is much easier. Check out this quick video, and you will be able to see what kind of hydrangea you have: Hydrangea Identification
If it’s late winter or early spring and your hydrangeas aren’t in bloom then identification is much harder.
Say you just moved into a new home, or maybe you haven’t paid much attention to your hydrangeas before. You may have no idea if you have and old wood hydrangea or a new wood. There’s no need to worry. The best thing you can do is wait!
Wait until late spring or early summer (or earlier depending on location) when hydrangeas are starting to put on new growth, and leaves have developed. By then you should be able to use the leaves for identification. This is a great site for identifying hydrangeas by leaves (leaf identification is towards bottom of the post): Hydrangea Leaf Identification.
Check Out These Next….
Join my free email list!
Can you grow hydrangeas in the southwest
I’ve seen people have success with them in South Texas. Stick to Panicle, or ‘Pee Gee’ Hydrangeas, and plant them in shade locations. Also keep them watered.
I’ve been growing beautiful hydrangeas for years in inland San Diego county. They like morning sun and afternoon shade.
Can you air layer hydrangeas? If so, when?
I actually have a friend that air layers oak leaf hydrangeas. I would imagine this type of propagation would work for all hydrangeas. There’s a product called the Clam shell Propagator that works great for air propagation.
Useful article! Actual and useful tips!
thanks glad you enjoyed it!
Looking forward to reading your posts. ????????????
Wanda Henderson says
My hydrangea hasn’t bloomed for several years, as I always kept it pruned in the winter. I believe it must bloom on old wood. Where do I go from here?
I would leave it unpruned for this entire season. The flower buds should develop this year and next year you should have some blooms. Immediately after blooming is when you want to prune old wood hydrangeas. If you bloom in the fall you will likely be cutting off blooms for the following year.
Wanda Henderson says
Thank you! I followed your advice and only trimmed back slightly because it was so huge. This spring it had about four blooms. It’s huge and I’d like it to be smaller. Is it too late to trim it halfway back now?
Shelley Hermary says
I live in Alberta lived in my home 4 yrs just had a bloom?
If you are in Alberta I’d almost guarantee that your flower buds are freezing and dying during the harsh winter. It’s one of the reasons even here in New Hampshire I don’t plant hydrangeas that bloom on old wood. They buds and branches never survive the winter. I prefer Panicle Hydrangeas instead.
KC Vaillancourt says
I have hydrangeas that I planted 12 years ago. In the beginning they had phenomenal blooms and now they have none. The only thing that changes was several years ago (7ish) a landscaper came and hacked them not knowing if they were old wood or new wood blooms. They of course did not bloom that year and have very sparsely bloomed since then, any suggestions? Maybe a fertilizer or something, they used to make me so happy and now, well, I feel baad for them. Thanks so much.
Ok, so a couple things to look for assuming you aren’t pruning it incorrectly… One thing that could have changed is the plants are getting less light due to nearby trees and shrubs maturing and blocking light. Hydrangeas actually do need some sun to bloom. Another possibility (depending on the hydrangea) is that when they received that hard cut back by the landscaper, it created a very thick branching habit when they put on new growth. This means several branches can be crossing each other and even touching. Try pruning out any crossing branches in order to allow more light (and air) through the plant. Pruning young plants is usually a great thing to do since it encourages thicker growth, but too thick is no good either. Also, has the deer situation changed since 12 years ago. They’ll eat the flower buds and can be pretty sneaky about it. Lastly, its never a bad idea to add some compost or amend the soil. Epsoma Holly Tone is a great product.
KC Vaillancourt says
Thanks Mark, I will look for crossing branches and get that Holly Tone, nothing else has really changed, so I will cross my fingers that does the trick,
Linda tuite says
Can you move a hydrangeas to another place in the yard. In the summer?
I would definitely recommend waiting until fall or early spring when the hydrangea is growing so actively. If you do go for it just make sure you keep it watered daily.
Linda Frick says
I had a very old, huge pale blue Lacecap hydrangea at my old house. In early October I just took a hedge trimmer to it, pruning it into a nice rounded shape. It lost all its leaves once our Oregon Coast winter set in. In March I fed it once with an acid loving fertilizer, it bloomed prolifically all summer. I watered it every other day.
I love Lacecaps, they seem to be a little more rugged then other hydrangeas that bloom on old wood!
Hi! I have incrediball hydrangeas that we planted 2 years ago, this spring we got a very hard late frost and all green growth on them wilted and died. Will they come back next year or will they need replaced? I’m so sad!
Hi Heather, don’t be sad! I’m sure they are fine. Incrediballs are Smooth Hydrangeas that bloom on this current years growth. Even though the new growth died early on you might see some new green growth emerging this srping/summer. You might even get some blooms this year. But I wouldn’t even think about having to replace the plant, worst case scenario is its just not that great of a year for it.
Thanks Mark! Should I cut any of the branches back or just let them be? Right now the bushes are just brown sticks with no green visible from branches or the ground.
If they’re brown sticks this time of year they should probably be cut back. I wouldn’t cut back all the way to the ground this time of year, leave at least several inches. Hopefully you’ll see some new growth emerge from the ground.
I purchased a hydrangea last year and transferred it to a larger pot since I don’t have a sunny enough spot in my yard for it. I brought it in the house for the winter, watered it only occasionally and it bloomed beautifully this summer. My question is, How long can I expect it to thrive in a pot. Will I need to transfer it to the ground eventually? Or a bigger pot? TY
Hi Deb! Plenty of people plant hydrangeas in pots. Just make sure you get a big pot, at least 2′ wide. At this size there shouldn’t be much of a need to constantly increase pot size. Just make sure you use a potting mix that drains well. Also make sure the pot has drainage holes on the bottom.
Can hydrangeas be split and replanted? If so when is the best time for that? I live in the Midwest.
You wouldn’t want to split hydrangeas as you would with perennials. Perennials can be divided but most shrubs can’t.
Judy herzog says
I have had good luck digging out side parts of Annabelle hydrangeas and putting them in pots until they form a better root system and some new leaves . I have propagated about 8 new shrubs this way. Live northern Minnesota .
Julie J says
I have Nikko Blue hydrangeas on the northeast . side in Northern Mi. I’ve had them many years & they rarely bloom or only have 2-3 blooms. The foliage is good. I have usually waited until late June to cut back to see what old wood had growth. Last year I cut it all back to about 12 in. feeling I had nothing to loose. This year foliage is coming but no buds on old wood. Are they worth salvaging or should I plant something more hardy? We had a very cold spring here this year.
I feel your pain. I’m in New Hampshire and have given up with hydrangeas such as Nikko Blue that bloom on old wood. There’s too many wonderful Panicle Hydrangeas to choose from and they bloom on new wood. It’s ultimately your call, but it seems like I’m always cutting back old wood hydrangeas in the spring and it’s disappointing.
Tempie Wallace says
Hi, I have endless summer hydrangeas. Last year I had maybe one or two blooms in late summer but the plants themselves were green and lush. This year the plants have gotten to a great size with a couple more blooms but they were blooming only on the undersides of the bushes. The flowers didn’t even completely blossom. They get 4-5 hrs of good sun and are next to the eastern side of the house. The plants are on their 3rd year of growth. What am I doing wrong? I have fertilized the plants as well. I’m not sure what to try next.
hi tempie, where are you located, and do you prune them at all?
What is the best thing to use when you see a disease on your hydrangeas?
Hi Cindy, It really depends on what disease or fungus your hydrangeas have, but in general Immunox is a great product that helps with a lot of foliage problems. It is a foliage spray that can be bought for a hose end sprayer application or as a concentrate to be mixed in a tank sprayer.
My hydrangea has finished blooming but still has some
Sparse blooms, however new growth is coming up on the
New stems. It needs to be pruned, but it’s August here
In Ca. Can I still prune it.
Hi Lydia, If your blooms are starting to wind down I would prune now. Nothing too hard, just an overall shaping and deadheading of the plant. You’ll have to sacrifice a couple of random blooms but now is a good time for pruning.
Bobbie McCartt says
Hi Mark, I live in the Piedmont Triad area I’m having some big problems with my Endless Summer Hydrangeas. I just bought them this year and I planted them on the north side of my house you should get some sun and some shade. But they’re looking horrible and one of them burnt up from I think too much sun. I need help. I’m attempting to be a gardener but my thumb is still Brown and not green. What advice can you give me to resurrect these plants. Thanks Bobbie
Hi Bobbie, Overall endless hydrangeas should be fine to plant in your area assuming they don’t get strong afternoon sun for several hours. There’s a lot of things that could be the cause for your stressed plants, but starting with the easy things:
1. Since they aren’t established yet make sure they get plenty of water! Put the garden hose on a small trickle and water the shrubs at the base for about half an hour each, every day (You can just leave the hose there instead of manning it.)
2. Make sure soil is well draining, not full of clay.
3.Mulch around the hydrangeas but don’t let the mulch rest along the base of the plant. This will help trap in moisture.
It’s tough to tell without a picture but most likely your new plants are struggling from a lack of water.
I moved into my house six years ago. There is an existing hydrangea that has a beautiful, low, wide shape (3’ wide x 2’ tall) and creates pretty green foliage, but never blooms. I haven’t pruned it, so I know I’m not cutting old wood blooms. I’ve fertilized and watered. What else would you recommend. I’m close to digging it up and replacing, but that seems so sad.
Hi Anna, are you located in a cold region? Could be that the flower buds aren’t surviving the winter due to the cold. You could also have deer eating the flower buds if deer are in your yard. Another possibility is you have a Panicle hydrangea which actually requires about 5 hours of sun to bloom. If a panicle hydrangea is left in deep shade it is less likely to bloom. Panicle leaves are usually smaller and rougher then other hydrangeas so check to see if that’s a possibility. Lastly, you could be fertilizing with a fertilizer that has too much nitrogen. It’s the middle number phosphorus that helps flowers bloom, the first number is nitrogen which encourages leaf growth.
We have multiple Annabelle new wood hydrangeas. We cut them back too late last year and this year they didn’t flower until just now. We live in Zone 7b (Atlanta area) and not sure when “late winter” is for us. When should we prune them. Is January 1st considered late winter. We typically start Spring in February…
Hi Sue, late winter/early spring would be more like late March. That’s the best time to prune Annabelle Hydrangeas. You can prune them back pretty far, even to the ground and they will flower for the upcoming season.
I have Strawberry Sundae hydrangeas that are blooming but the heads seem to heavy and they are laying more flat than upright. I did prune them back 1/3 in early spring (zone 5). How can I get the blooms to be upright, not sprawling on the ground?
Hi Joan, Try backing off on the pruning. Next time just give them a light pruning, pretty much just dead heading the flowers. The more severe the pruning the more likely you are to get weak branches with lots of blooms. With a strong pruning, the hydrangea focuses a lot of energy into quickly developing branches so they get tall. Tall usually means weak. By easing up on pruning, the hydrangea won’t be forced into growing leggy branches. Hope this helps, keep me posted with any more questions!
cindy l salas says
I live in Loveland, colorado. i planted 3 endless summer hydrangeas in 2014, on the north side of the house.did not amend the soil, it is mostly clay. dug under river rock, first year, no blooms. in the spring, i made a tea of dr. earths acid fertilizer. poured it on the 3 plants, (oh, and btw, pruned in spring, just above new growth, letting them stay up all winter. we tend to have pretty severe weather, being in northern colorado, so i was worried. the next spring, i pruned then after i saw new growth, fed the dr. earth tea, and in june, had nice big pink blooms.i did get some strong sun in the evenings, which scalded some of the leaves, but they bloomed again in september. Im now trying to get blue blooms, but i water with just hose water, which i think is alkaline. so now In september 2020) im seeing i dont get the scalding sun this year.(wierd, huh?) i do have smaller blooms this september, probly due to a frost we got this last may. so now i think ill only water with house water,(we have a rainsoft water system), and start to feed next spring, again. well see!!!! cindy
Hi Cindy! It’s funny, peoples landscapes are constantly changing… I wonder if your hydrangeas don’t get sun scald anymore because the tree canopy closed in over time and now you get more shade where your hydrangeas are. That’s assuming there are trees around the area. Could also be that your hydrangeas are more mature and the root system is more developed. This helps in preventing sun scald. As for the smaller blooms, your right it could be the late frost. It could also be a lack of Phosphorus. If you’re trying to achieve bigger blooms that are blue then try a fertilizer that’s high in Phosphorus and try amending your soil with Epsoma soil acidifier. I’m a big fan of Endless Summer Hydrangeas because they bloom on both old wood and new wood. In your region you are probably just getting blooms off the new wood. I’d imagine most winters the old wood buds die off. Lastly, you might want to get a simple litmus test on your water. I’d be surprised if that was affecting the overall ph but you never know. Ultimately, a soil acidifier should dominate alkaline water.
I have two hydrangeas that bloom on old wood and one climbing one. Great foliage no blooms, or very few. I live in a cold climate (zone 4) so I am sure that is the problem – will covering them in the late fall help the buds over the winter?
Hi Jenna, It’s funny I’m actually putting a post together on how to protect hydrangeas during the winter. Bottom line is yes, covering them will definitely give you a better chance of saving blooms. Of course, there’s a lot of what ifs, but why not give it a shot. One strategy I like the most is collecting leaves from your yard, (usually oak leaves if you got them) and place them inside and around the hydrangea. Then wrap the hydrangea. To wrap you can use burlap, but I prefer to use frost blankets. I’ve purchased several rolls from Greenhouse Megastore online before. If you do choose to wrap, just make sure it’s not plastic, or anything that completely blocks the flow of air.
How do I move a hydrangeas ?
Hi Lisa, wait until the hydrangea is dormant but the ground isn’t frozen yet. Here in NH that’s usually around November. You could also transplant in early spring, just avoid transplanting when the hydrangea is actively growing. Start out by digging your new hole. Dig it big so there’s plenty of room for the root ball and plenty of room to incorporate compost and good potting soil. Then dig out your hydrangea by digging around the entire plant, slowly exposing the main root ball. The more roots you can leave intact the better odds the plant has of surviving. Don’t be afraid to use a metal bar for leverage as you get most of the root ball exposed. Once the hydrangea is fully dug up you can plant it in its new location. Back fill with compost or good potting soil, and incorporate the existing dirt into your mix as well. Pat down around the plant as you backfill to eliminate any air gaps. Place some bark mulch around the plant and keep watered! Even if it’s late fall, make sure you give the newly transplanted hydrangea plenty of water.
Lora Karabatsos says
Hello Mark. I live in Gastonia, NC and have 3 Endless Summer Hydrangeas. They have been full of blooms this entire spring going into summer. I did not prune them at all last year but I need to shape them and am just wondering the proper way to prune these. Thanks for any advice.
My hydrangeas are out of control! They grow so vigorously that they’re crowding out other plants. How do I curb growth? I live in Toronto and have a south facing garden.
Hi Rosemary! What kind of hydrangeas are they. If they’re panicle hydrangeas you can cut them down to about 1/3 of their size. If their smooth hydrangeas (Annabelle) you can them back all the way to the ground.
Linda C says
!I have a huge endless summer hydrangea. In your article you said endless summers are both new and old wood, but you didn’t tell us how to prune them. My husband just dead headed all the old blooms. It needs to be sized down and shaped. How low do we prune?
Hi Linda, Endless summer hydrangeas are very forgiving since they bloom on old and new wood. Most people will prune in early spring when the buds start to green up. They usually prune each branch down to the last set of green buds. Also, prune away any dead, weak, or crossing branches. Now, if you’re trying to bring the size way down you can do that too by being a bit more aggressive. You could prune it down to a third of its size if you want. You might not get many blooms this season from the old wood but at least you have the new growth that’ll produce blooms.
My climbing hydrangeas have never bloomed in 12 years. They look healthy but get no direct sun in winter. Fertilize?
Hi Cia, that’s really tough to know without some more info. Where are you located? If the leaves look healthy and there are no blooms it could be too much nitrogen. Also do the vines run along the ground or are they propped up? If it’s an older plant it could benefit from a more severe pruning. If there are too many branches that steer off from the main part of the plant if could be using up all the energy and prevent blooms from forming. Lastly, make sure you’re pruning at the correct time. These shrubs flower on last seasons wood so if you prune in the spring you could be pruning off the flower buds.
Nichole B. says
As your article read, we just moved into a new house with 2 huge hydrangeas on the east side of the house (front). I have been researching and found your article to be the most helpful so far as I do not know when to prune them. I was looking for the link to help me identify the leaves but could not find it. The leaves are just starting to come on at the bottom of the plant, so I think it would be helpful to figure out which kind I have for pruning now or waiting until later this year. I would appreciate any help in identifying my hydrangeas. Thank you!
Hi there Nichole, the link is at the very end, check it out here: Hydrangea Leaf Identification. Good Luck!
I have a hydrangera that grows huge butthe flowers are tiny, i gave my daughter one like it and hers has huge flowers, we do the same thing what is the problem
It could be a number of things but it sounds to me like it comes down to the number of branches. If you have several branches and more flowers the plant will put more energy into the increased quantity so it will produce smaller flowers. That’s why I like to prune off older branches, crossing branches, and crowded branches early in the season, leaving just the healthy significant pars of the plant. This will allow the hydrangea to put it’s energy into more significant blooms.
A few years back I received hydrangeas for Mother’s Day and decided to plant them in a bed on the east side of my house. The first year they bloomed but now all I get are green leaves. Not sure what to do.
Hi Cheryl, do you know what kind of hydrangeas they are, and also are you pruning them? Also where are you located?
Bill Howell says
I live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area and purchased a couple hydrangeas at the local garden center. One is a Merritt’s Supreme Pink and the other is a Mathilda Gutges. Both have big, beautiful blooms but are beginning to change to a dull color. I want to cut the flowers off that are looking “spent”, but not keep it from blooming further this year. I know hydrangeas are a bit temperamental. Will they bloom again this year if I just cut the flower off? I plan to plant them this Fall, but they are currently still in pots. Thanks for your help.
Hi Bill, If the flower is looking spent I would definitely prune it off. Blooms fade which is natural for pretty much any flowering plant. Pruning off the dying and weak flowers will help promote new flower blooms. So definitely cut blooms that are spent so the plant can focus it’s energy on making new blooms. If you’re going to keep it in a pot that long make sure it has some slow release fertilizer, maybe some Osmocote and keep it watered! Also keep in mind, a plant in a pot is very different than a plant in the ground. A plant in the ground, that is established will be much stronger and overall will produce better blooms. I wouldn’t expect too much in terms of plant performance until it’s in the ground.
A, Williams says
I purchased 2 (a Pink and a Blue) Big Leaf hydrangeas in Summer of 2020, In Summer of 2021 the Pink didn’t bloom but had full, lush foliage; the Blue one had only a few blooms. They’re growing in pots on my deck because my yard is completely full sun from 8:30am until 8:30pm in Zone8 or 8a. I live in Fort Mitchell,AL. 40 minutes from Georgia. Now as we approach Summer 2022, They are just 2 planter pots filled with branches. I didn’t deadhead or prune last fall/winter.
Will they ever bloom again, or should I toss them and start over. (They are Endless Summer Plants) Please Advise.
Hi there, there could be a couple of reasons for no blooms on an endless summer. One is there might be too much shade. They do best with some morning sun. Also since they are in a pot you should be feeding them with fertilizer. Make sure the fertilizer isn’t too high in nitrogen which is the first number, instead feed them with something that is balanced like a Miracle grow 10-10-10. It’s the middle number, phosphorus that will help produce blooms so finding a fertilizer that has a higher middle number could help too. Lastly, in early spring I like to thin the plant quite a big. Completely remove older branches, and branches that are crossing, weak, or small and insignificant. This will help focus the energy on blooms instead of leaves. I would definitely start out with some fertilizer before doing anything too extreme like tossing them. Exposing them to a little more light if possible would be something else I’d try.
Thank you, I will follow your advise and hope for the best.
Melva Evans says
My hydrangea has only bloomed once in several years had 2 blooms. In spring there are numerous sticks with foliage growing from ground. I have left sticks still no
blooms, have cut sticks still no blooms. I wonder if blooms occur on sticks and late frost kills buds, but every year?
where are you located? Sounds like you have hydrangea that blooms on old wood in a zone that gets really cold. No matter how you prune these hydrangeas they won’t bloom if the buds freeze. That’s why I prefer panicle hydrangeas in colder zones.
Donna P says
Here are pics of my hydrangeas now. They have bloomed the brightest pinks I have ever seen for 2 summers including this one until about 4 months ago. The blooms started taking on a rusty brown color. I have noticed that some seem to be turning pinkish again. Should I snip these blooms off now or let them die out. By the way I have never pruned my hydrangeas in the 3 years I have had them. I am including pics from early summer then later. We have had ongoing 100+ best indexes here in North Mississippi..sorry, unable to add pics
Hi Donna, Feel free to email me the pics so I can take a look: [email protected]…. To me though it seems like a heat/sun/lack of water problem. I would snip off blooms that have taken a turn for the worse, it might encourage more healthy blooms especially as we cool down. Also, watering them as best as you can from the base of the plant, with a hose, could help a lot!
How do I stop deer from eating my hydrangea?
That’s a tough one Maggie! If they are eating your buds during the winter I would suggest wrapping them in a light weight netting. This time of year, I’ve had some success with Deer and Rabbit liquid Fence but you have to spray the area pretty routinely.
Tammy McElwee says
I have a hydrangea tree the blooms, but they don’t always open.
hmmm, my two main thoughts are that deer could be eating the buds, is that possible in your area? The hydrangea my also be getting not enough sun, or it could be getting way too much sun. Are those possible scenarios? Where are you located Tammy?
My neighbour has a beautiful hydrangea. She has said I could take a cutting from it. Can I do this successfully? How do I go about it. She doesn’t know if it is Annabelle or Panicle.
Hi Debbie, you can, but I would take a hardwood cutting this winter. Check out what I do: https://plantforsuccess.com/hardwood-cuttings/
Joanne Wheeler says
Hi! I live in Massachusetts. I have two hydrangeas planted side by side approx 35 years ago. They are huge! I don’t know what type they both are except they produce blue flowers. I never know when to prune so I normally do it in the spring. My blossoms were plentiful this summer but began dying so I trimmed the flower off—I accidentally over fed with an all-around fertilizer- don’t know if fertilizer or heat (maybe combination) caused the “dying”. What do you suggest?. Thank you.
Hi Joanne, it sounds like you have big leaf hydrangeas and if that’s the case they bloom on the previous seasons growth so I’d opt for pruning right after they are done blooming instead of spring. As for the blooms that were dying the most likely reasons are too much sun, too much wilting from too little water and too much sun, or it could be a pH problem. If you overfertilize that could have helped to contribute to lower pH and also to making the plant more stressed, especially if there was stressors already from sun and drought. For next year I’d recommend testing your soil pH to make sure it’s in the low 6’s, and do your best to keep your hydrangeas watered. You don’t want to see any wilting. I’d also back way off on the fertilizer, and if you do want to fertilize make sure it is slow release.
I live in Michigan in zone 5b. I have 2 mopheads, both about 15 years old. One is endless summer, the other is unknown, but has deep raspberry colored flowers. Neither has bloomed hardly at all for the past 10 years. They both get some sun, some shade, lots of water, pruning in June when I’m sure which branches are viable, acidic fertilizer and coffee grounds. Where are the flowers? They used to be beautiful. Are they too old? I have 2 Incrediballs and a tall pink panicle that are still just beautiful. Is it time for 2 murders and a funeral?
Hi Cheryl! One thing I’m curious about is how you are pruning them. If you are trimming the entire plant down in June then you are definitely cutting off flower blooms since mopheads bloom on last years wood. If you are just selectively cutting out the dead and weak branches then pruning shouldn’t be the issue. I’m not sure if you read the part of the blog post where I write about how I hate hydrangeas that bloom on old wood in climates like yours. Hear in NH Zone 5 I’ve given up on hydrangeas that bloom on old wood. Every winter it gets so cold the flower buds and even the branches die due to the cold. You’ll get a bunch of green leaves that come from the new growth, but no buds. What’s funny is that like you, it’s always a mystery to me why smaller and more immature hydrangeas seem to be able to tolerate the cold better and will usually bloom for a couple of years and then as it grows taller the blooms all of a sudden don’t last the winter. I’m not sure why this is. My theory is that the smaller plant stays more protected from frost since it’s closer to the ground. Its also more likely to be buried in snow which helps protect it better. Whatever the reason I feel your frustration. And lastly, one other possibility is that deer could be eating the flower buds. Things could have changed in the past 10 years that have moved deer more into your area. This would help explain why the Endless summer which blooms on old and new wood is struggling to bloom. Personally, I stick with panicles in my zone.