Hydrangeas are the perfect summer flowering plant. They are available in a variety of shapes and colors, have attractive foliage and are useful in a wide range of garden sites. But the question we hear most from customers about hydrangea is “When should I prune?” Let us make it easy:
Big Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
These are perhaps the most commonly grown hydrangea in the home garden. Big leaf hydrangea can be either mopheads or lacecaps and includes familiar varieties such as ‘Endless Summer,’ ‘Nikko Blue,’ ‘Twist-n-Shout’ and many more. Since they produce flowers on the previous season’s growth, pruning hard typically results in no flowers. Selectively prune in early spring just before bud break.
Smooth Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
This is a very hardy shrub with an open, spreading habit, making it great for bouquets. One of the most popular is ‘Annabelle.’ Smooth leaf hydrangea produce flowers on the current season’s growth and respond very well to both hard or light pruning. Prune in late winter/early spring before new growth. Tolerates shade very well.
Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
This hydrangea is well named, as its leaves bear a striking resemblance to oak leaves. The deep green leaves of the oakleaf hydrangea turn shades of orange and red before falling off in late fall. The flowers, which are a striking white, are produced on the previous season’s growth. Prune right after flowering (mid-summer) to control size and shape. Only remove up to 1/3 of the plant.
Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
A large, late blooming species of hydrangea. The flower heads are excellent cut, either fresh or dried. Popular varieties include ‘Limelight’ and ‘Tardiva’. Panicle hydrangeas produce flowers on the current season’s growth and respond very
well to both hard or light pruning. Prune in late winter/early spring before new growth. Tolerates sun well.
Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris)
This hydrangea is in the form of a large, woody vine with dark green heart-shaped foliage. Beginning in June, lacy, flat-topped clusters of white creamy flowers appear in abundance. Climbing hydrangeas grow in full sun or shade but need rich, moist, well-drained soil. They also require a structure such as an arbor, trellis or fence to grow on. Since they produce flowers on the previous season’s growth, prune right after flowering (mid-summer) to control size and shape. Only remove up to 1/3 of the plant.
We hope this tutorial helped to answer all of your hydrangea pruning questions. If you need additional assistance please stop by the nursery or give us a call at 516-334-0066.