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Pruning Bigleaf Hydrangeas: A Quick Guide

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All hydrangeas are beautiful, but not all hydrangeas are the same. Because of this, bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) should be cared for in their own special way to maximize blooms. Especially when it comes to pruning.

When to prune bigleaf hydrangeas

Traditional bigleaf hydrangeas
These shrubs bloom on old wood, the flowers are produced from buds that were set the season before, typically around August (depending on region).

hydrangeasBecause of that, these shrubs are best pruned after they finish blooming, before August. It’s best to avoid any late-season pruning at the risk of cutting off flower buds for the following year.

With traditional bigleaf hydrangeas, losing old wood buds means missing out on flowers the following season. So, it’s often best to skip hard pruning altogether and focus on deadheading spent blooms.

Endless Summer® Hydrangeas
These shrubs bloom on old wood like traditional bigleaf hydrangeas, but can also flower on the current season’s growth. That means you’ll get flowers even if winter is particularly harsh and kills old wood flower buds. Because of this, they need little to no pruning at all.

hydrangeasBut if your heart is set on a bit of maintenance, wait to pick up your pruning shears until late April or May so the stems have time to fully leaf out and new, green growth is visible. Only prune what didn’t survive the winter and do not prune at all in fall.

During the summer, remove spent blooms to encourage your shrub to use its energy to produce new blooms.

How to prune bigleaf hydrangeas

First, you’ll need to have the right tools. Bypass pruners (for smaller branches) and bypass loppers (for larger branches) are ideal for providing a clean cut without crushing the stems of your hydrangeas.

When trimming back stems, use sharp, clean pruners and make your cuts just above a set of alternating leaves. To redirect growth or shorten your branches, make a heading cut at a 45-degree angle toward the end of a branch, and about ¼” above the last green bud on the stem.

Depending on thickness, use your pruners or loppers to thin out what didn’t survive the season by removing the branch as close to the base as possible.

Visit endlesssummerhydrangeas.com to learn more about achieving consistent hydrangea blooms all season long, year after year.

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