Doherty Sale House

Tips on How to Properly Prune Hydrangea


Hydrangeas are woody flowering shrubs and that means you prune them depending on their growth on old wood and new wood. However, apart from timing you also need to nail the technique for different types of hydrangea plants. That’s why people prefer to search for “tree service near me” and hire reputed professionals to get the job done. If you’re still keen on doing it by yourself, then check out these tips for pruning hydrangea:

Tips & Tricks

  1. Pruning Bigleaf Hydrangea – Bigleaf hydrangea bloom on old wood and set their flower buds from late summer to early fall. That’s why pruning them in late fall or during the spring season gets rid of all blooms for a year. The plants do well even without pruning. However, you can prune them to control their size and shape.

While pruning bigleaf hydrangea make sure to trim away spent flowers as they fade. This helps to keep your plant looking tidy without damaging it in any way. Use bypass pruners to simply clip away the faded flowers. When most flowers on the plant fade away, start pruning away dead and weak stems. However, remember not to remove all the old wood since it buds new flowers.

If your hydrangeas have grown too much you can prune select branches all the way to the main stem to control its size. While you do that, make sure to leave healthy branches so that you don’t lose all the bloom. For the bigleaf hydrangea, you can prune away as much as one-third of its mass. 

  1. Pruning Smooth Hydrangea – Smooth hydrangea blooms white flowers that most people don’t expect from hydrangea plants. Unlike other hydrangea varieties, this one doesn’t have showy blooms. The round shrub has rounded leaves with a pointy end and pale underside. Since flowers on this plant bloom on new wood, it can handle a lot of aggressive pruning.

Early spring is the best time for pruning this plant since it ensures ample growth for flowers on new wood. Start pruning the shrub by removing branches that have been killed or injured during the winter season. When you’re trimming the plant for shape, you can lightly trim the additional branches to restore its round shape. This sort of pruning will grant you large shrubs with plenty of small flower heads.

If you want larger flowers on your smooth hydrangea plant, you’ll need to resort to hard pruning. Hard prune the plant to create a smaller shrub that blooms fewer but larger flowers. These flowers can go so large that you may need to prop them out.

  1. Pruning Panicle Hydrangea – Panicle Hydrangea, also known as Peege Hydrangea produces cone or football-shaped flower clusters from mod to late summer. The flowers start out white, green, or cream in color and slowly turn pink. After that, they dry and remain on the plant even after the fall season when the shrub has lost all its leaves. Since its flowers bloom on new wood. It can take heavy pruning.

During the growing seasons, you can remove the flowers as they fade. This doesn’t just make the shrub look cleaner but also extends the blooming season and keeps the shrub looking beautiful for a longer period. If you just want to maintain the shape of the plant, you can selectively prune branches that mess with the overall aesthetics of the plant. A well-trimmed panicle hydrangea looks beautiful even after the blooming season ends.

To stimulate healthy growth and bloom on this plant and take care of overgrowth at the same time, you can hard prune individual stems of the shrub during the early spring or late winter season. While hard pruning you can get rid of as much as one-third of its weight without damaging the plant in a critical way. While hard pruning, remove smaller wood all the way to the base without pushing the blade over larger stems.

  1. Pruning Oakleaf Hydrangea – Oakleaf hydrangea gets its name from its oakleaf-shaped foliage. Since its leaves are its most attractive feature, loss of bloom isn’t very disappointing for most homeowners. Since the flowers bloom on old wood, you need to do major pruning on it as soon as the plant finishes flowering.

Inspect the shrub during the early spring before it starts growing. If the plant has received winter injuries, you can prune the stems below the point of injury. More pruning can only be done after the shrub finishes flowering. After the flowering season, you can use sharp bypass pruners to remove branches that prevent the plant from taking the ideal shape. This plant doesn’t do well with heavy pruning and that’s why you need to be very careful.

  1. Pruning Mountain Hydrangea – Mountain hydrangeas have narrow pointed leaves, flattened flower heads, and are small flowering shrubs. It’s best not to prune this plant. However, if it’s necessary you have to maintain high caution while pruning it. You can get rid of dead and winter-damaged stems in early spring before the growth season. For any sort of major pruning, you need to wait until the shrub has stopped flowering.
  1. Pruning Climbing Hydrangeas – As the name suggests, this variety of the hydrangea plant climbs up trees and other support structures. It’s more of a woody vine than a shrub and requires little to no pruning for size control. Since they grow vigorously, you can occasionally hard prune them to establish boundaries for the upcoming season.

This plant flowers at the top and hence side trimming won’t affect its appearance in a major way.  If there are overgrown and neglected vines, you can prune them back to ground level in the early spring season to stimulate the plant in the right direction.


There are different types of hydrangeas, from big leaf hydrangea to oakleaf hydrangea and all of them need special pruning care. Remembering the pruning techniques and care routine for each type can be a challenging task. If you feel overwhelmed, you can hire reputed professionals by searching for “tree service near me” and outsourcing the job to them.

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