Can You Prune Hydrangeas To Keep Them Small

One of the hydrangeas that blooms on new growth is called Annabelle. However, if you extensively prune them, they will still bloom. If you prune them too much, the new growth that develops may be weak and bow when the flowers are in bloom.

How do I prune my hydrangeas? is the query I receive the most on GardenLine. The big-leaf hydrangeas, Hydrangea macrophylla, have a difficulty in that if you cut them back too much, they don’t bloom as much the next season because their flower buds develop in the previous summer. On old growth, the majority of the well-known blue mophead and blue, pink, or white lacecap hydrangeas produce blooms.

However, some hydrangeas do not bloom on second year growth, which furthers the uncertainty. Both the white-flowered ‘Annabelle’ and the extremely hardy Pee Gee hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora, bloom on fresh growth. Several kinds, including “Penny Mac,” “All Summer Beauty,” and “Endless Summer,” bloom on both fresh and old foliage.

Let’s first discuss why you should prune these bushes before moving on to how. Unfortunately, the most common motivation for pruning a plant is to reduce its size. You’re destined to lose unless you’re cultivating a shrub or tree in a bonsai dish.

Plants should typically only be clipped to enhance appearance rather than regulate size. I’ll say it again because it’s crucial: Hydrangeas should be clipped to enhance look rather than regulate size. The mature hydrangea shrub is an immovable object. A big leaf hydrangea will grow back the following season if you prune it one year. Replace your larger growing variety with one that is genetically engineered to stay short if you wish to keep them little. A few types are recommended later in this article.

Many lacecap hydrangeas flower on growth from the second year, thus they should be treated similarly to mopheads. For illustrated pruning instructions, download the pdf document found at the end of this post.

Pruning instructions for lace-caps, mopheads, and big leaf hydrangeas are as follows:

1. When the plant has started to emerge from dormancy in the spring, prune. You can tell which canes are alive and which are dead at this time of year.

2. Start by cutting all dead canes down to the ground and eliminating them. In order to avoid being tempted to leave unsightly, six-inch-tall stumps because you can’t reach to cut them any shorter, it is better to do this while seated close to the plant.

3. After removing all dead canes, assess what is left. If you still have a lot of surviving stems and some of them are older than three years, cut the oldest canes again at ground level and eliminate a third of them. New growth will be encouraged by this. Skip to step #4 if the plant is not overcrowded with numerous older stems.

4. Trim any remaining faded flowers to thin the plant. Working from the top down, trim the remaining canes back by stopping and making the cut just above the first or second pair of buds you reach. Some canes will be cut very little or not at all when using this top-down strategy, while others will only contain surviving buds close to the base of the plant, meaning you’ll be chopping off a significant portion of that stem.

5. After that, back up and inspect the plant. If there is a stem that is noticeably higher than the others, you can cut it to make it more in proportion with the others if you prefer the way it looks. Remove any curved, frail-appearing branches that trail on the ground.

6. Bear in mind that any green buds you remove could later on in the summer bloom. Do you like more flowers or a cleaner plant? Keep in mind that you may always cut those flowers to make bouquets, which would help the plant look better later in the year.

7. Prune Infinitely Summer and other large-leafed hydrangeas that similarly bloom on fresh growth. Cutting these plants short results in fewer flowers because they bloom on both new and old wood.

8. Do you want them to be small? Let it go. Plant “Mathilda Gutges,” which is my favorite hydrangea, as well as “Hortensis Compacta,” the diminutive “Pia,” and “Pink Elf.”

Hydrangeas like the one on the right, called “Mathilda Gutges,” are suitable for perennial gardens and foundation plantings because they don’t grow much higher than four feet. The hydrangea “Ami Pasquier” on the left can reach heights of over five feet and should be planted in an area where it will have room to develop.

‘Pee Gee’ hydrangeas can be pruned in a variety of ways. By pruning deadwood and one-third of the smaller lateral branches each year, some people help them grow into little trees. Remove these twigs, leaving just the larger, upright stems, and the plant will grow taller, resembling a miniature tree with many stems. Cut out any crossed branches or those that are growing toward the center of the plant rather than away from it after cutting the deadwood and those lower stems. Do this in the spring or late winter.

Pee Gee hydrangeas can also be pruned annually to a height of six inches to three feet. But because the top tends to grow thicker, the new stems that emerge will be dragged down by the weight of the blossoms. Pee Gee hydrangeas should generally be planted in areas where they have the potential to grow huge. Consider the diminutive oak leaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee, if you want a white flowering shrub that stays small.

If Annabelle hydrangeas are pruned short, the stems will bend under the weight of the flowers since the fresh growth is weaker. These should be pruned similarly to mopheads, in my opinion.

Download this pdf of instructions with graphics to bring pruning knowledge into the garden. how to prune hydrangeas.pdf

Can hydrangeas be prevented from growing too large?

Myers believes excessive trimming can be harmful, even though deadheading your hydrangeas can be beneficial for fresh growth. The energy held in the roots of “Annabelle” cultivars will all be used to produce above-ground growth, which is frequently insufficient to support the blooms, according to the author. The older stems can help sustain the new growth while a late winter 15 to 18 inch cutback will promote new development from the roots up.

How should a too-large hydrangea be pruned?

Hydrangea bushes do not require pruning unless they are overgrown or ugly. Spended flowers (deadhead) can be safely removed at any time. However, there are a few deadheading pointers to remember for the best outcomes. Aim to just trim down to the last healthy bud or try to keep cuts above the first set of huge leaves. This guarantees the security of any budding blossoms for the upcoming season.

Cut stems all the way to the ground when pruning hydrangea shrubs that have grown out of control. Although it could postpone blossoming the following season, this helps the plants recover. All hydrangea varieties benefit from occasional trimming, but different varieties require different hydrangea pruning care, so it’s crucial to know what kind you have.

How come my hydrangeas are so large?

“My hydrangea is too huge,” our clients often complain.

How do I cut it back? It’s crucial to know what kind of hydrangeas our clients have before we can respond to such an inquiry. Are those mopheads (Hydrangea macrophylla or H. serrata) or blue lace caps? Or do they cultivate hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) in pink or white, like Annabelle or Incibelle Spirit? Maybe our clients are cultivating native oakleaf or white panicle hydrangeas (H. paniculata) (Hydrangea quercifolia). Knowing which type of these plants is being produced is crucial since they all respond to trimming in various ways.

It’s important to note this before we get into the details and the crucial photos: attempting to limit a plant’s size through trimming is typically foolish. The plant’s genetics, which dictate its height, width, and shape, are the first thing you’re fighting. Second, trimming consistently promotes growth. Therefore, if you heavily prune a plant, it may appear that you are making it smaller, but the plant will immediately strive to make up for the lost growth. The best course of action would therefore be to transfer a hydrangea and plant a smaller type in its place if it is too big for the area where it has been growing.

In addition, no matter when you trim back a blue lacecap or mophead, they will not only grow back to their previous height in just one summer, but you won’t get many flowers the next season.

The smooth hydrangeas, like Annabelle, Incrediball, or Invinceabelle Spirit, will continue to bloom even after being trimmed back, but frequent pruning causes the stems to become weaker and more likely to bend over, spilling the blooms to the ground. Once more, if these plants are too big for where they are, move them and replace them with a Wee White or Mini-Mauvette instead because they will stay smaller.

Hydrangeas with a panicle shape, such Lime Light, Pinky Winky, Fire Light, and others, can get fairly big. If they are hard pruned, they will still flower, but this frequently leads to quick regrowth and larger flowers that drag the stems down. However, there are options to trying to shorten a plant. It’s frequently preferable to transform larger plants into little trees when using panicle hydrangeas.

Hydrangeas of the panicle kind like Bobo, Little Quick Fire, and Fire Light Tidbit remain shorter in height. A medium-sized shrub, little lime (around 5 to 6 feet tall and wide).

Any Hydrangeas that are out of place can be easily moved in the fall. Early September is the best time to dig them, then sow the seeds where they can grow to the size that their genes indicate. Once the plants have been relocated, the only pruning required is to take off dead wood and crossed or rubbing branches on the other kinds and remove dead canes from the mopheads and lacecaps. When a plant is developing properly, you can prune it to make it seem better and stop attempting to control how big the shrub gets.

Are you able to mold a hydrangea bush?

In the late winter, early spring, or just above a big bud known as a heading cut, trim back stems. The flower heads of these plants have a conical form. I wait to prune these until late winter or spring because I advise leaving the dried, tan flower heads on the plant to add some winter beauty to your garden. Favorite panicle hydrangeas include:

  • H. paniculata ‘Bulk’ PP16, 812, Quick Fire
  • (H. paniculata ‘Limelight’)
  • Berry White (H. paniculata ‘Renba’ PP28, 509) first editions

How can I shorten my hydrangeas’ lanky stems?

One of the nicest flowering shrubs out there, according to anyone who has a hydrangea in their garden. But if your hydrangea grows to be “leggy,” it might not be robust enough to support those enormous, gorgeous blooms. You can give your hydrangea some tender loving care to help it develop a strong base for years to come.

The best thing you can do for your lanky Hydrangea is to make sure it receives adequate sunlight. After that, pruning will promote new growth and create a stronger foundation for future blooms on your hydrangea. Your Hydrangea will stand taller if you deadhead blooms that are starting to wither.

There is no reason why you shouldn’t have one of these stunning beauties in your collection since hydrangeas are a feature of any southern landscape. Learn how to maintain your Hydrangea looking rich year after year, whether you’ve just planted a new one or your plant is simply looking too spindly.

How do I maintain the size of my Limelight hydrangeas?

Pruning all of the stems on the shrub midway along their lengths in the fall after flowering is a less time-consuming approach for the home gardener that keeps the blooming potential of “Limelight” intact. After that, cut back any new growth to the same length in the spring. A hydrangea that has been severely clipped in this way frequently grows back to its original size without suffering any damage. A “Limelight” can also be pruned in the early or middle summer; while it is unlikely to bloom at that time, it will the following year.

Only trim the bush’s stems at the top of the trunk if you’re growing “Limelight” as a standard. Avoid pruning the trunk to prevent the plant from returning as a multi-stemmed shrub. When the trunk’s baby branches develop to the size of a pencil, cut them off. A typical “Limelight” shrub needs to be pruned regularly throughout the year to keep its rounded shape and to stop thick branches from sprouting from the trunk and ruining the overall appearance.

How far back can hydrangeas be cut?

Remove up to one-third of the older living stems from the hydrangea each summer, cutting them all the way to the ground. The plant will recover as a result. Before the end of July, if required, prune back the plant to regulate its growth and give the buds time to grow. Usually, the plant grows back to its previous size right away.

What occurs if hydrangeas are not pruned?

If and when you prune is the key to happy, healthy hydrangea flowers. Of course, fertilizing and offering the ideal environment have a lot to recommend them. However, if you don’t prune properly, your efforts will be in vain. Deadheading is not the same as trimming. Pruning refers to more drastic cutting to preserve shape or remove dead growth. However, feel free to discard spent blossoms or cut fresh ones to use in arrangements.

Hydrangeas can bloom on either fresh wood or old wood, depending on the species. The wood from which they blossom determines whether and when to prune.

Old wood-blooming hydrangeas do not require pruning and benefit from it. They’ll blossom more abundantly the next season if you leave them alone. But feel free to deadhead or gently thin. Just keep in mind that while new growth may appear, it won’t bloom until the following season. In our region, four different species blossom on aged wood. Additionally, they are not limited to the hues displayed here.

Climb using suckers. On your wall or trellis, resist the desire to remove the dormant growth.

The flower heads are more conical in appearance, and the leaves are large and resemble oak leaves. It’s a pleasant surprise for a hydrangea when its leaves turn reddish-orange in the fall.

They are very comparable to lacecap types, but smaller and with more compact leaves.

Pruning should be done in late winter or early spring on hydrangeas that bloom on new wood. Trim back to two feet to prune to shape. The next season’s blossoms are produced by strong, fresh growth that is encouraged by trimming. In our region, there are two types that bloom on fresh wood. They are also not restricted to the colors displayed.

Oakleaf variants are not included in cone-shaped blooms. Keep the blooms on throughout the winter to provide interest; even dried out, they are quite lovely.

regarded as a wild kind. They often have smaller blooms and leaves than Bigleaf variants and are completely white. They enjoy full sun and can grow very tall.

Knowing whether or when to prune now will help you avoid the disappointment of a hydrangea that doesn’t blossom. Don’t forget that a robust shrub will produce more gorgeous blossoms if it has well-draining soil and good organic fertilizer. Come on in, and we’ll show you where to go to develop your green thumb.