Hydrangea Pruning


Date: May 26th, 2016


Pruning is one of the most important gardening activities, as it allows for new growth and flowering at a plant’s fullest potential. The chart below summarizes some pruning tips according to the type of hydrangea plant you have.


Type of Hydrangea

Typical Cultivars

Pruning Tips

Hydrangea macrophylla (Hortenia or Mophead)

  • Nikko
  • Forever Pink
  • Sister Therese

They get their flower buds from the previous year’s wood (what we call “old wood”). Pruning should be done only when necessary, as they will suffer a lack of flowering if too severely pruned. Once growth begins in spring and you can see parts that are not going to sprout, cut off those dead branch portions; then let your shrub be!


Hydrangea “newly discovered” mopheads

  • Dooley
  • Penny Mac
  • Endless Summer

Recent discoveries have uncovered mophead cultivars that bloom on old wood and somewhat on new wood. These are less affected by an overzealous pruner, because they are not depending strictly on the old wood to produce blooms. If it’s needed, prune in winter then leave it be. Later on, if parts of stems do not sprout in the spring, cut the branch back to the point where growth activity is taking place.


Hydrangea paniculata (Panicle Hydrangea)


  • Pee Gee
  • Tardiva
  • Limelight
  • Pink Diamond

These bloom on new wood. What does that tell us? That old wood isn’t important. These can be pruned back severely if done at the right time. Pruning fresh growth during summer will upset the maturity and caliper of the stem and will disturb flower bud initiation. The right time for pruning is winter or pre-spring. Whack the devil out of it, but then lay off the pruning shears the rest of the season.


Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea)


  • Snow Queen
  • Snowflake
  • Syke’s Dwarf


These bloom only from old wood. They are best left untrimmed. If pruning is absolutely necessary, removing entire stems in late winter works best. You can shape it up, but remember, any tip you cut off, you’re also cutting off a future flower.


Hydrangea arborescens (Smooth Hydrangea)


  • Annabelle
  • White Dome

Flowers arrive on new wood; old wood is not necessary for bloom. They can be severely shaped in winter or pre-spring, then leave them be until winter arrives again.


Hydrangea anomala (Climbing Hydrangea)

(Also includes the genusa Schizophragma)

These are slow-growing, woody vines that cling to structures via air roots. They bloom on old wood with wide, flat, lacecap-type flowers. While pruning will eliminate flowering, mature plants are many-stemmed, so some shape-correction or runner-control won’t wipe out all your blooms. Pruning is best done in the winter.


Hydrangea serrata (Mountain Hydrangea)


  • Bluebird
  • Preziosa
  • Blue Wave

Most bloom on old wood. Cut off dead branches or branch portions in mid-spring when it becomes obvious what won’t sprout, then let the plant be to do its thing.



CountryMax.com Hydrangea



If you have any further questions regarding hydrangea pruning, email me at AskMax@CountryMax.com, or visit your local CountryMax store today!




Additional Resources: http://www.centertonnursery.com/howto/HydrangeaCare.pdf

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