How To Prune A Hydrangea

Pruning a hydrangea may seem like a daunting task, but with a little know-how, you can easily keep your plant healthy and looking its best. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps needed to prune a hydrangea properly.

Why Prune a Hydrangea?

Before we dive into the how-to of pruning a hydrangea, let’s talk about why it’s necessary. Pruning helps to shape the plant, remove dead or diseased wood, and encourage new growth. It can also improve the plant’s overall health and increase the number of blooms it produces.

When to Prune a Hydrangea

The best time to prune a hydrangea depends on the type of hydrangea you have. For hydrangeas that bloom on old wood, such as the bigleaf (Hydrangea macrophylla) and oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia) varieties, it’s best to prune them right after they finish blooming in late summer or early fall. For hydrangeas that bloom on new wood, such as the panicle (Hydrangea paniculata) and smooth (Hydrangea arborescens) varieties, it’s best to prune them in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

How to Prune a Hydrangea

When pruning a hydrangea, you’ll need a few tools, including sharp pruning shears, loppers, and gloves. Here’s how to prune a hydrangea: 1. Start by removing any dead or diseased wood. Look for branches that are brown, brittle, or have no leaves. Cut them back to healthy wood using sharp pruning shears. 2. Next, remove any old, woody branches that are crowding the center of the plant. These branches can prevent new growth and airflow, which can lead to disease. 3. If you’re pruning a bigleaf or oakleaf hydrangea, look for the spent blooms and cut them off just above a pair of healthy leaves. Avoid cutting into the older wood, as this can reduce the number of blooms the plant produces. 4. For panicle and smooth hydrangeas, cut the entire stem down to the ground or to a pair of healthy buds. This will encourage new growth and more blooms. 5. Finally, step back and take a look at the plant. If it looks uneven or lopsided, you can trim a few more branches to even it out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I prune my hydrangea in the summer?

A: It’s best to avoid pruning a hydrangea in the summer, as this can remove the buds that will produce blooms the following year.

Q: How much can I prune my hydrangea?

A: You can prune a hydrangea as much or as little as you need to shape it and remove dead or diseased wood. Just be careful not to remove too much of the older wood on bigleaf and oakleaf hydrangeas, as this can reduce the number of blooms.

Q: Can I use hedge trimmers to prune my hydrangea?

A: It’s best to avoid using hedge trimmers, as they can damage the plant and leave it looking uneven. Instead, use sharp pruning shears and loppers to make clean cuts.


Pruning a hydrangea doesn’t have to be intimidating. With a little knowledge and the right tools, you can keep your plant healthy and looking beautiful year after year. Remember to prune your hydrangea at the right time of year for its variety, remove dead or diseased wood, and shape the plant to your liking. Happy pruning!