How to Prune an Oakleaf Hydrangea


Oakleaf describes the white flowering hydrangea shrub well. The leaves of the Oakleaf hydrangea are large compared to other hydrangea and resemble the leaf of an oak tree. Oakleaf hydrangea can handle drier soil and its large leaves turn shades of burgundy, orange or yellow in the fall, making it unique over other hydrangea varieties. The blooms of Oakleaf hydrangea appear on old cane so that needs to be considered when pruning this shrub that is native to the U.S.

Pruning n Dormancy

Step 1

Look at the shrub in the winter, while it is dormant and leafless. The old cane (stem) will be brown or tan and tough compared to the greener, more flexible new cane. Old cane comes from prior years' growth while new cane was created in the growing season that just finished.

Step 2

Use the hand pruners for cutting lose to the outside of the shrub. Use the loppers to reach deeper into the shrub.

Step 3

Prune one-third off the top of the old cane. Cutting back old cane will provide more growth space for blooms, giving the appearance of a fuller shrub.

Step 4

Prune branches snapped by wind or ice. Make the cut at least 6 inches below the break.

Pruning in Summer

Step 1

Prune Oakleaf hydrangea while blooming to capture cuttings for a vase, to deadhead (remove spent blooms) or to control the height or width of the shrub.

Step 2

Push the blooming cane to the side so you can see into the shrub. Look for green sprouts down the cane and make a 45-degree angle cut just above those sprouts. The cuttings can be added to a compost bin or discarded if you do not plan to use them in a vase or dry them.

Step 3

Cut cane without blooms to shorten them by looking down the cane into the shrub for sprouts. Make the 45-degree angle cut above a sprout.

Step 4

Cut old or new cane to the ground in July to control the spread of the shrub if desired. This pruning does not have to be done if there is plenty of room for the shrub.

Tips and Warnings

  • If your pruning is too aggressive, you may see fewer blooms the following season. However, left alone the blooms will be greater the second season.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruners
  • Loppers


  • USDA Guidelines: How and when should I prune my hydrangeas?
  • Pruning Mehtod 1
Keywords: prune hydangea, Oakleaf hydrangea, growing hydrangea

About this Author

Barbara Raskauskas's favorite pursuits are home improvement, landscape design, organic gardening and blogging. Her Internet writing appears on SASS Magazine, AT&T and various other websites. Raskauskas is active in the small business she and her husband have owned since 2000 and is a former MS Office instructor.