Pruning Endless Summer Hydrangeas
Are you wondering how to get the most blooms on your hydrangea? Pruning is the answer! The best time for pruning endless summer hydrangeas is late winter or early spring. If you’d like to retain what gardeners call “winter interest” in a shrub with a summer bloom cycle, let your hydrangea flowers fade and dry on the stems over the fall. You’ll have an arrangement of dried flowers in your yard to look at all winter long.
Pruning Endless Summer Hydrangeas Steps
The first thing you want to know about pruning a hydrangea is that these are extremely forgiving plants. If it is alive when you start this process, you can do just about anything to it and it will be alive at the end. But let’s make sure you end up with what matters: the most blooms possible. After all, that is the entire point of growing these beauties.
You’ll need a few tools for pruning endless summer hydrangeas: a pair of sharp hand pruners for the small branches and old flower heads, and a folding garden saw or anvil pruners for the older, larger branches.
Springtime Pruning Steps
Pruning in the spring has one main advantage – you’ll be able to see the leaf buds, which will guide all of your pruning decisions. In the spring, keep an eye on your hydrangea. You’ll want to wait to prune until you see leaf buds swelling on the stems.
Once you notice the springtime buds, head outside on one of those amazing sunny spring afternoons to prune. You’ll start by taking on the first segment of pruning hydrangeas: removing the dead branches. This is so easy when you can see all the buds. Removing the dead branches prevents disease and gives your shrub some interior breathing room.
Once you’ve removed the dead branches, look for any branches that appear diseased or broken, as well as any branches crossing and rubbing. You’ll want to remove all of those – this is where your folding saw will come in handy. Broken branches can lead to disease and branches that are rubbing can also cause disease. Your shrub will be much healthier without them.
Now you can start pruning off the old flowers and shaping your shrub. To ensure you get the most blooms, prune right above the swelling bud growth – there will be singles and pairs of buds. If you want to keep your hydrangea the same size, then prune to the bud growth at the end of the branches. To shape or prune back your shrub, follow the buds back along the branch as far as they go and prune back to the furthest one.
Significant Hydrangea Pruning
Generally, you can prune back a third of a hydrangea and it will thrive and bloom. However, there are times when a massive pruning is necessary. For example, a neglected hydrangea will most likely need more significant pruning. Follow the same steps of removing dead, broken and diseased branches first. You can prune a hydrangea back by half, but you probably won’t see a lot of blooms until the following year.
Remember, hydrangeas are resilient and will grow back. The great news is, you will have another chance to prune next year. Follow these techniques to keep your shrub healthy, happy and blooming.