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Your Guide to Pruning Hydrangeas


Hydrangeas are a common plant in the South and are thus included in many home and business landscapes. Many home owners and landscapers mistakenly think the best time to prune these bushes is in February; however, this isn’t entirely true when you take a look at how these flowers develop. According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, some hydrangeas bloom on “old wood” while others on “new wood.” If they are on old wood, this means the blooms are produced by buds stemming from the previous summer; buds forming on this year’s growth show up on new wood. As an example, big leaf and oak leaf bloom on old wood; smooth and Panicle hydrangeas bloom on new wood.

Pruning shrubs that bloom on old wood right after flowering will prevent the removal of the developing buds for next year. August is when the next year’s buds start to form. Shrubs on new wood would be best pruned in late winter or early spring so new blooms are encouraged. Check out these maintenance tips:


Maintenance Tips

Of course, you also need to keep up with general maintenance, whether you have a big leaf or oak leaf hydrangea.

  • Cut the dead wood from your big leaf or oak leaf — 1/4 to 1/3 of the older stems to the ground to encourage a robust plant, with good shape and volume.
  • For smooth hydrangea, cut between six and 12 inches from the ground in late winter or early spring.
  • For Panicle hydrangea, which does best as a tree, take away lower branches and up to 1/2 of older stems for increased flowering.
  • Keep July 4th on your calendar as a good reminder for the latest you should wait for pruning any hydrangeas. Don’t do it beyond then.
  • In general, cut above the first set of big leaves or down to the last buds.
  • For hydrangeas that have become overgrown, cut stems to the ground. Although this may delay blooming, it will invigorate the buds once they do start popping out.

As one of the most sensitive to cold that you can get, hydrangea needs careful monitoring. It can fall victim to early or late freezes due to the poor dormancy of the flower buds. That means, if early warm weather awakens them and they bloom, only to be hit hard with frost later, they may die or become damaged. For this reason, experts recommend planting big leaf hydrangea on north slopes or east slopes underneath towering pines to keep temperature extremes from affecting them as much.


Contact Twelve Oaks Landscape Co.

If you need help with your hydrangeas, don’t hesitate to call in the pros. Contact us at 256-997-9005 or fill out our convenient online form. We have the experience and know-how necessary to properly plant and care for all types of hydrangeas to complement your landscape. Our team would be happy to come out and give an assessment.

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