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Hydrangeas should be pruned in March. The pruning is done in March because the faded flower helps protect the buds throughout the winter. There are, of course, a few exceptions to the rule of pruning hydrangeas in the spring and much depends on the variety and how much pruning the hydrangea requires.
The three most common types of hydrangea are mopheads, lacecaps and climbing hydrangeas. All three can benefit from regular pruning. However, just a gentle warning, there is a difference between deadheading hydrangeas and taming an unruly plant. If you find your hydrangea is taking over, a hard prune may be necessary but you will have to sacrifice flowers for the first year after pruning.
Pruning Hydrangeas Quick Reference
- Most hydrangeas prefer to be pruned in March.
- You can hard prune hydrangeas.
- You can prune hydrangeas to ground level if needs be.
- Hard pruning hydrangeas may result in no flowers for a season.
- Hydrangeas are sensitive to nitrogen. This means they could put on too much growth and not have any energy to produce flowers. This could happen if the hydrangea is near a fertilised lawn.
- When deadheading, cut back to a pair of large healthy buds. Usually the second pair on the stem below the bloom.
- Don’t worry about making a mistake hydrangeas are very forgiving!
Can I cut Hydrangeas down to Ground Level?
Lacecap and mophead hydrangeas produce flowers from the previous year’s buds and they are easily identifiable as they are larger than the current season’s buds that are nearer the bloom. If you need to get the shrub back into shape, cut back a few stems to ground level in March, this will encourage new growth from the base. You can then do the same to the next set of stems the following year.
Why are my Hydrangea Blooms small?
Hydrangeas can get old, tired and a bit woody and this can be the cause of smaller blooms. In this case, it is acceptable to cut the whole plant back to ground level, for a complete renovation and this should be done in March or April. Beware, you could sacrifice flowering that season.
Let’s look at which is the best month to prune each of the hydrangea species.
Which Month should I be Pruning Mophead Hydrangeas?
Mophead hydrangeas are easily identifiable by their, large pink or blue blooms. These hydrangeas can be pruned anytime after flowering, usually between November and March. A spring pruning in March is preferable as the faded blooms can protect the shoots from the ravishes of winter. Some gardeners like to deadhead their plants as soon as the flowers have faded. Cut back the stem to the next pair of healthy buds just below the dead flower head.
Which Month can I Prune Lacecap Hydrangeas?
Lacecap hydrangeas can be pruned in November or earlier if the flowers have faded. The lacecap varieties are hardier than the mopheads hydrangeas, so don’t need as much protection during the winter. Prune back to a pair of large healthy buds, usually the second set of buds down from the bloom.
Which Month to Prune Hydrangea paniculata
Hydrangea paniculata has soft cone-shaped flowers and should be pruned in March. The pruning should be done in spring as the plant produces flowers on the current season’s growth. Pruning in spring encourages the plant to produce new stems and therefore new flowers.
Pruning Climbing Hydrangeas
Climbing hydrangeas should be pruned after they have flowered in summer. Climbing hydrangeas can cope with a hard prune if the plant has become out of control. You can hard prune climbing hydrangeas in March.