How to Prune Hydrangeas for the Perfect Summer Blooms

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Ready to learn how to prune hydrangeas? Here's the best way to care for these stunning shrubs.

Hydrangeas are a gorgeous addition to any garden. The breathtaking blooms on these shrubs are spectacular—and the plants themselves are fairly easy to take care of.

If you’re curious about how to prune hydrangeas, grab your shears and let’s garden!

When to Prune Your Hydrangeas

It’s good to get into the habit of pruning every year. You’ll need to schedule pruning hydrangeas at different times, though. There are two main types in the Hydrangea macrophylla family: lacecap hydrangeas and mophead hydrangeas. We’ll also cover oakleaf hydrangeas and panicle hydrangeas.

Mophead Hydrangeas

The blue, purple or pink hydrangeas you see in your grocery store’s florist section? They’re mopheads. Mopheads don’t need heavy pruning, but a snip here and there does encourage new growth. Just trim off dead growth once the shrub has finished flowering.

Lacecap Hydrangeas

The same is true of lacecaps. Don’t go overboard with pruning! Lacecaps also bloom on old wood, so just deadhead them once they’re done at the end of the season. Lacecap hydrangeas are the only blooms that can change color.

Oakleaf Hydrangeas

Oakleaf hydrangeas are another type that require old wood to flower. Once again, a light cut to remove dead growth once summer’s over is all you need.

Panicle Hydrangeas

Panicle hydrangeas are instantly recognizable for their unique cone shape. These flower on new wood. You can prune them anytime except during the summer. If you want to reshape the shrub, trim stems back while the plant is dormant (late winter once the risk of frost has passed), about a foot or so from its base.

For more details on pruning hydrangeas, consult our full guide on how to care for hydrangeas.

How to Prune Hydrangeas

First things first—make sure your shears are sharp! Then, no matter which type of hydrangea you have, don’t prune more than one-third of the shrub. If you’re not 100% sure what variety of hydrangea you have, play it safe and simply deadhead it.

Editor’s Tip: Be sure to give your hydrangea plenty of water when the temperatures creep up. During the height of summer, the soil is prone to drying out. Depending on where you live, you’ll want to break out the hose every other day or so.

Ready to start gardening? These are the garden tools worth a splurge.

Tools You Need for Pruning Hydrangeas

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Camille Berry
Part of the third generation in a family of restaurateurs, Camille was born with a passion for cooking and food. She embarked on a career in hospitality where she excelled as a sommelier and wine director. This hospitality experience has given her a wealth of first-hand knowledge about how to pair all manner of drinks with food—plus some serious kitchen skills. These days, she's hung up her wine key in favor of a pen and covers all aspects of food and drink.