How to Prune Hydrangeas: The Common Mistake When Pruning Garden Hydrangeas


Hydrangeas are most valued for their colorful flower heads, and pruning is the best way to ensure regrowth year after year. With spring now here to stay, it’s the perfect time to make some much-needed trimming as the shrub begins to grow. Dead flowers and a wandering structure are two key things to address when pruning, but what’s the one mistake you could be making while doing so?

How to prune hydrangeas

Spring is a busy time for garden plants with many varieties ready to be pruned before the peak growing season.

Most hydrangeas should be pruned in late winter or early spring, but what’s the right way to do it?

The Royal Horticultural Society has recommended pruning in two simple steps – deadheading and cutting – and there’s one key step you should never forget.

READ MORE: Plant pests: The 5 most common garden pests to watch out for in spring

Start one-on-one

Old flowers should be removed to make way for new growth starting in March.

Begin by removing dead flower heads with the pinch of the thumb and forefinger before entering with sharp pruning shears.

Cut the stems

For most hydrangea shrubs, it is best to cut the stems back to the first pair of strong, healthy buds just below where the faded flowers were previously.

Some hardier varieties, such as lacecaps and mopheads, need to be cut slightly differently, with a harder cut needed to stimulate new blooms.

What is the most common mistake made when pruning hydrangeas?

The correct size of your plant will depend on the type of hydrangea you are growing, but that’s not the only thing to consider when pruning this vibrant plant.

Removing the stems from the shrub body is crucial for stimulating new flowers and stems, but many gardeners forget to tackle low growth at the bottom of the plant.

The RHS has recommended removing weak and sparse stems throughout the plant while ensuring that any stems lying on the ground are also cut.

Tackling all aspects of the plant will open up growing space for intertwined stems and make your hydrangea even healthier when the clustered flower heads reach full bloom.

What type of hydrangea do you grow?

Before pruning your established hydrangeas, it is crucial to determine which variety you are growing in your garden.

The most common types of hydrangeas have a number of key details that set them apart, and these are the most important characteristics you need to know.

Broomhead Hydrangeas

These are a common choice for cottage gardens, thanks to their round heads of large blue, pink, green and white petals.

Lacecap Hydrangeas

Known for its tiny flowers in the center of the bloom, this strain has larger petals around the edge, creating impressive display throughout the blooming season.

Climbing hydrangeas

The clue is in the name of this strain, with its climbing stance that often lays down large expanses of fences and walls.


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