The Q&A Archives: Hydrangea Pruning

Question: Having just moved to Ct. when is the best month to trim back and when to deadhead?

Answer: In a few weeks you should see buds beginning to swell on the branches, or at the very least, from the crown of the plant. Most common garden hydrangeas are Hydrangea macrophylla and they bloom on new wood which develops on old wood. So, you'll want to prune the existing branches down to 18-24". This will give the plant some old wood on which to produce new flowering shoots. If you find later in the season that the remaining branches are not sprouting, but that new shoots are coming from ground level, simply prune off all the old, dead wood to make room for the new branches. Some hydrangeas routinely die down to ground level but they bloom on new growth. These types of hydrangeas can be pruned down to ground level every spring, just as new growth begins. Once you've determined which type of hydrangea you're growing, you'll know how to prune them. Some gardeners leave the old flowers alone because they enjoy seeing them during the winter months; others prune them off as the petals begin to fade. Either way is acceptable. Best wishes with your new landscape!

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