Garden Talk: Is it too late to prune my hydrangeas?

Hydrangeas. They are one of the stars of our gardens. We don’t want to do anything to mess up the blooming cycle for this year. Here are some tips to make sure we get to gaze at the floral splendor this summer.

There are some things to know about pruning hydrangeas. If you prune a certain hydrangea in the wrong way or time of year you could definitely have bloom disappointment this summer.

The main concept is some hydrangeas bloom on old wood, last year’s growth. Some hydrangeas bloom on this year’s new growth that is yet to emerge. Finally some hydrangeas bloom on both old and new wood.

It’s the old wood blooming hydrangeas we have to worry about ruining the blooming cycle. On this type of hydrangea the flower bud for this year already formed last fall. If you prune this hydrangea now you will cut off this summer’s flower buds.

The hydrangeas that bloom on this year’s new growth are much more forgiving on pruning timing. You can prune them now and will not cut off any flower buds since those buds haven’t even formed yet.

The more rare selections that bloom on both old growth and new growth are half forgiving. Prune them now and you will reduce the number of summer blooms.

It helps if you know what type of hydrangea you have, but many of us don’t leave the tag on the shrub once we plant it. Here is an article from Proven Winners that helps you identify which type of hydrangeas you have in your yard. You could have several types.


Tree hydrangeas in summer splendor (Mark Torregrossa | MLive)Mark Torregrossa

Jerry Somalski of Bay Landscaping in Bay County, MI gives us a great, useable tip. He says if your hydrangeas usually bloom after June 10 they are probably blooming on this year’s growth. It is fine to prune those hydrangeas back as far as you want to keep them the right size, and you’ll still get blooms this summer. If a particular hydrangea in your yard blooms very early, before June 10, then don’t touch the pruning. That hydrangea already has its flower buds.

If you are still uncertain and really need the soul-healing of a full-flowered hydrangea you can do the safest thing- do absolutely nothing. Your hydrangea may not have the greatest shape, but it will bloom whether it has flower buds from last year or this year.

Proven Winners demystifies the six types of hydrangeas in this article.