Hydrangeas are prized for their stunning flowers, but to encourage them every season, you have to make sure you prune them the right way, at the right time.
“The first step is to determine the variety of your hydrangea,” said Tim Wood, product manager at Proven Winners ColorChoice. “This is fairly easy to do. If your plant produces big pink or blue flowers, it is a Hydrangea macrophylla. If its flowers are round and white—or pink in the case of the new Invincibelle Spirit—the plant is a Hydrangea arborescens. Finally, if the plant has large, conical flowers, which are often white but may also be green or pink, you own a Hydrangea paniculata.”
Bigleaf Hydrangeas (macrophylla)
Relax! This plant requires a bit of a trim immediately after flowering. Never prune this plant in the spring or winter because you’ll be trimming off next year’s flowers.
Some of the newer varieties that rebloom the same season bloom on the current season’s growth, so they should only be trimmed right after the final blooms of the season.
Smooth Hydrangeas (arborescens)
These shrubs can be pruned back in the late winter or early spring. They bloom on the current season’s growth. Pruning them encourages new growth, which also encourages more flowers, and also results in a stronger plant.
Some of the newer Invincibelle varieties have stronger stems, so won’t flop once established. The Incrediball Hydrangea has the biggest flowers and strongest stems of any of the Annabelle varieties, with some blooms as large as a basketball.
Hardy Hydrangeas (paniculate)
These hardy hydrangeas also bloom on new wood, and can be treated much the same as smooth hydrangeas.
Fortunately, if you do prune at the wrong time of year, these plants are forgiving. They may not bloom for a season, but they’ll be back, bigger and better than ever.