All hydrangeas are equally beautiful, but they can also be equally confusing when it comes time to prune!
It’s important to know the type of hydrangea that you have so that you know the proper time to prune without removing any new flower buds. Four types of common hydrangeas are bigleaf, smooth, panicle and oakleaf. Not sure what type you’re getting? Check the plant tag at the garden center.
Pruning is an important part of gardening. You’ve put a lot of time, energy, and money into your garden beds so keep them tidy and nice by removing any wayward stems. Pruning also keeps the plant healthy by promoting new growth and encouraging flowering.
You’ll want to make your cut at a 45-degree angle where a leaf is attached to the stem. Clean your tools thoroughly with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol in between plants to avoid spreading diseases.
Bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) have two common flower shapes: mopheads (round flower heads) and lacecaps (flat flower heads). These hydrangeas bloom on old wood, or stems that were produced the previous growing season. Wait until the summer or early fall as the flowers fade to cut back one-third of the plant to its base.
All hydrangeas in Endless Summer’s collection are bigleaf varieties. Endless Summer hydrangeas were designed to bloom up to 12 weeks longer than the average bigleaf hydrangea. We also love the Blue Enchantress hydrangea from Monrovia.
Smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) are sometimes called wild hydrangeas because it is native to the southern and eastern United States. The ball-shaped blooms grow on new wood (new stems that were produced that growing season). Prune these in the late winter or early spring before flowering begins. Cut them back to just 1-inch to 2-inches tall.
Annabelle hydrangea is one of the more popular smooth hydrangea varieties. Its offshoots include Wee White hydrangeas and Monrovia’s Seaside Serenade Bar Harbor hydrangeas.
Panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea panculata) have cone-shaped blooms that grow on new wood. Prune them at the same time as your smooth hydrangeas in the late winter or early spring. Thin out weaker stems completely as you prune to help it grow stronger ones.
Some of our favorite panicle hydrangea varieties are Limelight, Bobo, Little Quick Fire and Vanilla Strawberry.
Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) get their name from their leaf shape, which resembles leaves on an oak tree. Like bigleaf hydrangeas, their cone-shaped blooms grow on old wood. However, these hydrangeas like to be left mostly alone. You can prune it enough to improve its shape after flowering is done in the late summer or fall, but limit your cutting to primarily dead or broken branches.
Alice and Ruby Slippers are two of our favorite oakleaf hydrangea varieties.
If you didn’t prune your hydrangea at the right time, that’s OK. You will probably go a season without blooms, but they will forgive you and flower again the following year.
If you need more advice on how to properly care for your hydrangeas, our team of experts at Martin’s Home & Garden are ready to help!
Jennifer Brown is the Marketing Coordinator for Martin’s Home & Garden. The family-owned full-service garden center has proudly served the Rutherford County community since 1982. Martin’s Home & Garden is located at 1020 NW Broad St. and can be reached by phone at (615) 867-7121.