How to Cut Hydrangeas


If you own a hydrangea bush, pruning your plant can be a nerve-wracking experience, partially due to the variation of behavior in hydrangea plants. While some hydrangeas produce flowers on spring growth, others produce new hydrangea blooms on the previous year's growth, so pruning at the wrong time of year may or may not cause you to accidentally cut off all of your hydrangea blossoms. On top of that, not all hydrangeas benefit from regular pruning. To find your hydrangea's pruning needs, know your type of hydrangea plant.

Identifying Your Plant

Step 1

Read identification tags when purchasing your hydrangea bush so that you know what type of hydrangea you have purchased.

Step 2

Examine your hydrangea bush and take note of the leaf shape and blossom shape. Take a cutting of the plant for comparison to help you identify it.

Step 3

Consult your local garden center, master gardener's program or extension service for community and continuing education for your local college. Professionals with these organizations can help you identify your plant based on these features. Take your cutting with you for faster identification.


Step 1

Time your pruning based on your hydrangea bush variety. Garden, big-leaf and oakleaf hydrangea bushes should be pruned in mid-July after blossoms have withered. Smooth hydrangea should be trimmed back in early spring. Climbing hydrangea should only be cut to maintain size and shape.

Step 2

Remove about half the length of hydrangea canes by cutting the plants back to the strongest pair of buds.

Step 3

Cut woody, older stems down to the ground.

Step 4

Prune away dead or broken branches and branches that rub one another.

Step 5

Remove spent flower heads by cutting them at a 45-degree angle right under the point that the nearest leaf emerges from the plant (the leaf node).

Cutting Flowers

Step 1

Move the pruning shears down the stem until you reach the desired stem length.

Step 2

Place the pruning shears directly beneath a leaf node.

Step 3

Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle.

Step 4

Place the flower stem immediately into a bucket of water to prevent air bubbles from becoming lodged in the stem and to preserve the flower longer.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not cut entire plant all the way to the ground. This will lead to spindly growth and no blooms in the following year.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Bucket


  • The Augusta Chronicle: Cutting Hydrangeas Can Be Fearful Experience
  • East Texas Gardening:Hydrangeas Brighten Landscaping

Who Can Help

  • Pruning Hydrangeas: Pruning Made Easy
Keywords: growing hydrangea, shrub care, cutting flowers

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.