Hydrangea Pruning ~ The RIGHT Way!

 It’s just getting warm enough to be outside for a bit of yard work. I gave my two, new PeeGee hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’) a haircut.


Hydrangeas are a mystery for some folks. Many people complain of non-blooming hydrangeas and incorrect pruning is usually to blame.

Although there are many kinds of hydrangea, they all fall into only two types of pruning.

Mophead (Macrophyllas) and Oakleaf (Quercifolia) Hydrangea types bloom on OLD WOOD.

Mopheads (think afro) are pink or blue*  (white are rare), very round blooms OR a circular bloom with larger blooms around smaller.


Oakleaf have white cone flowers like the paniculata, however the leaves look like oak leaves, very distinctive.


OLD WOOD = stems that have been on the hydrangea since the summer before the current season.

This group of hydrangeas set their flower buds around August, September or October for the following summer’s blooms. If these stems are pruned in the fall, winter, or spring, the bloom buds will be removed, and there may be little or no blooming the following summer.

Don’t fear cutting a few of these for a vase on the mantle. Stems can be cut long until August with no fear of lost blooms. After August, cut before the first set of leaves, this way the buds aren’t disturbed.

*There exists a small group of mophead hydrangea that will bloom no matter when they are pruned. ‘Endless Summer’ is this type of hydrangea.

These were created by Proven Winners and come in a blue container with their name on the side.



Paniculata (‘Limelight’ and ‘PeeGee’ ) and Arborescence (‘Annabelle’) Hydrangea types bloom on NEW WOOD.

Arborescence (think afro) are white or now pink (‘Invincibelle Spirit’ a pink arborescense), round blooms. Some can be quite large.


This is Invincibelle Spirit, a pink arborecense   Hydrangea. They are fairly new on the market and not many nurseries carry it. I think this one was created to really confuse Hydrangea pruners!! 😉





Paniculata have conical flowers, generally white with tinges of pink with age. They can be in tree form like the ones in the start of the post.


NEW WOOD = stems that grew on the plant during the current season.

A great ‘learner hydrangea’, as it can’t really be pruned at the wrong time!! =-)

Many people prune these down to the ground for winter; others keep them up for winter interest. There is a theory out there to achieve a nice, un-floppy hedge, do NOT cut them fully back to the ground to allow the stem to enlarge and hold the weight of the bloom.

If you need help identifying your hydrangea, drop me a photo via email!!


© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

28 thoughts on “Hydrangea Pruning ~ The RIGHT Way!

  1. Hydrangeas are one of my very favorite plants. Sadly, our lawn service people cut them to the ground in October. The year before the deep freeze destroyed all buds. I won’t be seeing the purples and pinks in my yard this year, again .. :-(. I will have to save this post and look at it from time to time!


  2. I love hydrangeas! Their are the flowers for my wedding. You have inspired me to grow one this season, now that I know there is a beginners hydrangea! Thanks


  3. Last year my landscapers (who aren’t charged with cutting my plants) decided to take it upon themselves to trim back all my bushes. Including my hydrangeas. It was a banner year for them in Indiana, except at my house.

    I most definitely left the new owners of the house a note warning them of pruning those bushes back (and overzealous/underknowledgeable landscapers).


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