How to Prune an Oak-leaf Hydrangea


Oak-leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) are named for their leaves that resemble oak leaves. The leaves turn dark maroon before dropping in the fall. Large cone-shaped white flowers bloom in the summer and then fade to dark pink, rusty red or wine red in the fall. During the winter, the cinnamon colored, peeling bark of the stems is revealed. Oak-leaf hydrangeas grow 6 to 8 feet tall and wide with a rounded form. They can be pruned each year to keep them smaller. They bloom on old wood and should be pruned immediately after flowering so new blooms have time to grow for the next season.

Step 1

Cut the oak-leaf hydrangea limbs at 30-degree angles at buds or joints. Use lopping shears for limbs more than ¾ inch in diameter and hand pruners for smaller limbs.

Step 2

Remove injured, diseased or dead limbs with hand pruners or lopping shears. Diseased limbs may have dying leaves, split wood, cankers or peeling bark that appears moldy or slimy.

Step 3

Cut out 1/3 of the older branches at ground level with hand pruners or lopping shears to open up the plant for better growth.

Step 4

Prune the oak-leaf hydrangea back halfway with lopping shears or hand pruners if you want to control the size of the plant.

Step 5

Remove dead flowers with hand pruners before new growth starts in the spring.

Things You'll Need

  • Lopping shears
  • Hand pruners


  • University of California Extension

Who Can Help

  • Hydrangeas
Keywords: oak-leaf hydrangea, prune oak-leaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia, prune Hydrangea quercifolia, oakleaf hydrangea

About this Author

Melody Lee worked as a newspaper reporter, copywriter and editor for 5 years. In addition, she has edited magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design and is a Florida master gardener. She has more than 25 years of gardening experience, which includes working at nurseries and greenhouses.