How to Prune Hydrangea Plants


Pruning hydrangeas can be tricky. Some hydrangea cultivars bloom on old wood, while other cultivars bloom on new wood. Old wood means the plant blooms on buds that developed the previous summer. Pruning in late summer, fall or spring will remove flower buds and eliminate flowering for that year. New wood means the hydrangea blooms on growth it puts forth that year. Pruning in spring and early summer will remove flower buds and eliminate flowering for that year. Mophead and lacecap cultivars bloom on old wood. Peegee and Annabelle cultivars bloom on new wood. Use pruning shears for small branches and a pruning saw for branches greater than 1 inch in diameter.

Pruning Hydrangeas That Bloom on Old Wood

Step 1

Remove flower heads after flowering or in early spring by making a cut 1 to 2 inches in front of a strong bud.

Step 2

Prune 1/3 of the plant's woody growth to the ground every five years to keep your hydrangea compact and healthy.

Step 3

Prune off dead or broken branches at anytime, making the cut 1 to 2 inches above a strong bud or cutting the entire limb off at the ground.

Pruning Annabelle and Peegee Hydrangeas

Step 1

Prune off broken or dead branches at anytime of the year, cutting them back to the ground.

Step 2

Prune the entire plant to 2 to 3 inches above the soil surface in fall after the majority of leaves have fallen.

Step 3

Prune crossing branches or branches that grow towards the interior of the plant to the ground in spring as foliage emerges.

Tips and Warnings

  • Before making a cut, be sure what type of hydrangea you have. Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood will not bloom the following year if heavily pruned.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning saw


  • Perennials for Every Purpose; Larry Hodgson; 2000
  • Taylor's Master Guide to Gardening; Houghton Mifflin Company; 1994
  • Royal Horticultural Society; Guide To Pruning Hydrangeas
Keywords: Pruning hydrangeas, Hydrangeas, How to prune hydrangeas