The Q&A Archives: Caring for Hydrangea

Question: I have a Hydrangea plant which is blooming now. There are quite a few twigs (sticks) sticking out from the plant. Last year when I cut these sticks out and pruned the plant I did not get any flowers all year. I was talking to a friend and was told that I should not cut the Hydrangea at all. If I did I will not get any flowers. So I did not do any pruning or cutting this year and I have lots of flowers this year. But the sticks are an eye sore. Is it true that Hydrangea plant should not be cut or pruned? I would like to keep it controlled and not takeover that area. Any suggestions would be much aprreciated. Thank you.

Answer: Hydrangeas produce flowers on new shoots which develop on old wood so it's important not to completely cut the plant all the way down to ground level because you want to retain at least some old wood. So, here's what you can do: cut off all the sticks now so your plant looks more attractive. When the flowers are spent you can cut them off the plant, along with some of the stem. You can also do some overall pruning after the plant has finished flowering if you think it needs to be reduced in size. Next spring, just as the buds begin to swell on the branches, reduce the branches to about 12-18" (or knee-high) from ground level. Anything that sprouts from those branches will be a flowering stem. Hope this clarifies things for you about pruning hydrangeas. Enjoy your garden!

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