To prune hydrangea bushes, remove dead flowers and trim back dead blossoms and branches. Remove old wood after flowering or in early spring, depending on the variety of hydrangea.
Hydrangeas do not require pruning to flower. However, pruning can help manage a plant that is growing too large for its space and clean up dead parts of the plant. To prune a hydrangea bush, use the following steps.
- Identify the hydrangea type
- Remove the deadheads
- Remove dead wood
- Prune back shrub branches
There are several different varieties of hydrangea, and different types grow in different ways. Hydrangeas tend to fall into two categories: plants that flower on old wood and plants that flower on new wood. Old wood types include big-leaf hydrangeas like lacecaps, mopheads and oakleaf hydrangeas. New wood types include panicle hydrangeas and hydrangea arborescens. Prune old wood types after they flower and new wood types in the spring before they start flowering.
All types of hydrangeas look better when the dead flower heads are removed. Gardeners can deadhead their bushes at any time. However, sensitive varieties such as mopheads are susceptible to the cold, so gardeners can leave a few dead blossoms on the plant over the winter to shelter the new buds that form underneath.
Cut away dead wood at any time with pruning shears or clippers.
Prune branches back at the appropriate time for the plant type. Cut back the branch to the first healthy bud.