How to Trim Hydrangeas


Lush hydrangeas which have been well cared for can be the most attractive part of a garden. While many growers know about the hydrangeas' reputation to change bloom color depending on their soil, few focus on how simple it is to trim hydrangeas to keep such beautiful flowers coming. Once dormancy is broken and the last frost has been seen, your hydrangea is ready for a little spring cleaning.

Step 1

Walk around your hydrangea and look it over to see if any stems are dead or look old based on the woodiness of the stem or cane. Thin, smooth stems are obviously newer, while the rough texture and thickness of other stems will indicate their age.

Step 2

Cut off the visibly dead stems with your pruners as close to the ground as you can and pull them away from the plant.

Step 3

Cut off a select few of the old stems, leaving 2/3 of old wood behind, by cutting them off close to the ground. Do not cut all of the old wood away as most hydrangea varieties need old wood for blooming.

Step 4

Trim away any dried blooms from the year before. Clip the blooms off by finding the last set of buds on the stem just behind the dead flower and cutting above the buds with a diagonal cut without nicking the buds.

Step 5

Shape the hydrangea as needed to cut back damaged, misshapen stems or ones that seem to grossly stick out from the rest of the plant. Find the first or second pair of buds from the end of the stem you want to cut and clip just above either set.

Step 6

Pull off any leaves which appear shriveled or brown if you have any to keep the plant healthy. These leaves formed too early in the season and will not recover from frost damage.

Tips and Warnings

  • Be sure to wear garden gloves and safety goggles to protect yourself from injury anytime you are pruning plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden pruners


  • "Hydrangeas: A gardener's guide"; Toni Lawson-Hall, Brian Rothera; 2005
Keywords: how to trim a hydrangea, trimming hydrangeas, pruning hydrangeas

About this Author

Margaret Telsch-Williams is a freelance, fiction, and poetry writer from the Blue Ridge mountains. When not writing articles for Demand Studios, she works for as a contributor and podcast co-host.