How To Trim Hydrangea Trees

You can trim down to within a few inches of the base, for example. You can allow new growth to develop and grow after that. There might not be any new growth if you chop it off completely, at the trunk.

When do hydrangea trees need to be pruned?

Depending on the kind you have, you must prune your hydrangeas correctly. Different hydrangea varieties need to be pruned at various times of the year.

For instance, you should hold off on pruning smooth hydrangeas like Annabelles until they are through blooming. All summer long, new blooms will result from pruning done in the late fall or early spring, before new growth starts.

Big Leaf and Oakleaf hydrangeas should only be pruned in the early fall to avoid cutting off buds that might otherwise prohibit summer blooming. It’s advisable to prune these hydrangea varieties as soon as they finish blooming.

Although Paniculata or PeeGee hydrangeas are a little more adaptable, they should still be clipped in the early spring before new growth starts.

How far back may a hydrangea tree be cut?

I have a hydrangea tree, but because the branches are excessively long, they bend downward to the ground when it rains. Can I prune branches back, and if so, when should I do it?

Yes, you can prune it, but first it’s important to define a hydrangea tree so you can understand how and why.

A panicled or PG hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) is actually a hydrangea tree that has been deliberately pruned to resemble a tree. Depending on the cultivar, it develops huge, elongated clusters of white or lime-green blooms at the tips of its branches in the summer that progressively turn pink or even scarlet in the fall. Since few other kinds of hydrangea have stems robust enough to create decent trees, it’s very much the only one used in this method.

The panicled hydrangea typically develops into a sizable multi-stemmed shrub. It grows an abundance of branches from its base and develops an erect, spreading shape over time, eventually reaching a height and diameter of up to 15 feet (5 meters) after 15 to 20 years. It’s obvious that it’s a shrub because it doesn’t resemble a tree in its natural state.

The nurseryman selects a young specimen with a strong central branch and starts to shape it into a hydrangea tree “prune it until it yields. He cuts off any more branches and any secondary branches that develop on the branch that will eventually serve as the trunk. During the first few years, staking is frequently required to maintain the trunk’s strict verticality. He starts trimming the top of the plant as well after the trunk has grown to the appropriate height, which is often 4 to 5 feet/1.2 to 1.5 meters. Because of this, the hydrangea is compelled to grow numerous branches at the top of a primary stem, or new trunk.

The process of making a hydrangea tree is time-consuming and significantly raises the price of the plant.

If you like, you can prune a hydrangea by yourself to resemble a tree, but it will take some time.

If you want to keep a hydrangea tree healthy, you’ll need to be prepared to prune it on a regular basis. If you don’t, the branches will grow too long and begin to bend under their own weight, as you’ve seen, and they may even break off, especially when there is heavy snow on top of them.

In your situation, it would be advisable to prune your hydrangea tree before winter because it is overgrown and the limbs are already bending from the weight of the plant. Simply prune all branches back to a distance of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) from the top of the trunk in October or November if you don’t want them to risk breaking off in snowy or icy conditions.

Starting pruning early in the spring as opposed to the fall will help your hydrangea tree survive the winter. This is because you’ll want to keep the panicled hydrangea’s dried flower heads until spring because they are lovely over the winter.

Make it a practice to trim back all the branches early in the spring, before the leaves emerge, by 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm). This will give your tree the intended effect, which is typically a ball of greenery topped with blossoms at the summit of a short trunk. Panicle hydrangeas bloom from new growth that begins to appear in mid-spring, so they will continue to bloom profusely even after harsh early-spring trimming.

In order to keep its tree-like look, with a clearly “Remove any suckers that develop at the plant’s base and any growth that develops on the trunk itself. This type of pruning is suitable for all seasons.

The optimal growing conditions for panicled hydrangeas are full sun or very little shade in virtually any well-drained soil. They can thrive in zones 3 to 8 and are cold hardy.

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 typically have smaller blooms and leaves than Bigleaf varieties and are all 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.

Shape of the Flower Head

  • A paniculata type is most likely present if the flower head is formed like a cone.
  • It is either a macrophylla or an arborescens kind if the flower head resembles a ball or a flat disk. Visit the section on Flower Color.

Robert Pavlis’ photograph of a hydrangea arborescens from the side, highlighting the flower’s dome-shaped crown

Flower Color

  • A macrophylla type is present if newly opened blooms feature blue, purple, or pink blossoms.
  • An arborescens type is present if the flower buds initially seem green, then turn white, and finally turn green or greenish brown as they ripen.
  • You likely have a macrophylla kind if the flowers are white when they first open and remain white as they age. Although they are less common, white flowered macrophylla varieties do occur.

Note: Recent breeding is beginning to develop arborescens with flowers that have a pink tint, such as “Eco Pink Puff.” Future cultivars should have a stronger version of this pink.

What height do hydrangea trees reach?

Check your hardiness zone if you’re thinking of growing hydrangea trees. Plant hardiness zones 5 through 8a of the U.S. Department of Agriculture are ideal for growing tree hydrangeas. They can reach heights of 25 feet (7.6 meters) and widths of 20 feet (6 meters) when planted properly.

According to tree hydrangea information, this plant has dark green, deciduous leaves that drop off in the fall. The largest leaves can grow to be 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide and 6 inches (15 cm) long.

Expect nothing resembling a fall show; the leaves hardly turn yellow before falling. The magnificent blooms, however, make up for the lack of fall color.

Panicle growth of the flowers can reach 8 inches (20 cm) in length. They begin as cream-colored blossoms on the trees and later turn purple or deep pink as they ripen. The flowering of tree hydrangeas is abundant. Often, the weight of these flowers causes the tree’s spreading limbs to lean toward the earth.

Should you prune the hydrangea tree’s dead flowers?

Because hydrangea blossoms are so large, deadheading a hydrangea can help the plant focus energy on other, more crucial aspects of its growth. To promote new blossoms and keep your plant appearing healthy, you should continue this approach throughout the flowering season. The time of year determines the best way to deadhead hydrangea blossoms.

You should cut the wasted blossoms with a long stem still attached if it’s before August. Look at the stem’s junction with the larger branch; there ought to be several little buds there. Make sure to keep the buds whole when trimming the stem back as short as you wish.

The plant is probably developing new buds along the stems in anticipation of the following spring if it is August or later. Check the area between each set of leaves as you work your way down the stem from the faded bloom. You should see buds at the first or second pair of leaves. Offset the spent bloom far above those buds with a knife.

Carry a cloth that has been dipped in denatured alcohol while you work. To stop disease from spreading throughout the bush, wipe your pruners clean with the rag in between cuts.

Cut back these shrubs in late winter before new growth begins

Shrubs that flower on young wood typically start blooming later than old-growth bloomers, beginning in June and continuing until the first frost, because they need to grow and set buds the same year that they bloom. As long as you avoid trimming when the flower buds are opening, these shrubs are understanding if it is not done at a specific period.

1. Trim the flowers all the way back for larger blooms.

These bushes can be completely removed from the ground in late winter or the beginning of spring. If cut severely like this every year, smooth hydrangeas will produce much larger flowers, but many gardeners prefer smaller blooms on stronger stems.

2. Maintain an old growth foundation to lessen flopping

Especially after watering from above or after a heavy storm, the branches of some hydrangeas frequently topple over from the weight of their blooms. Cutting the stems to a height of 18 to 24 inches will help to reduce this flopping by creating a strong framework for fresh growth.

Janet Carson is the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service’s horticulture specialist.

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How should a hydrangea tree be cared for over the winter?

One of the most adored Southern belles in the garden is the hydrangea. There are many reasons to enjoy shrubs; they tolerate shade, come in a range of colors, and can add interest all year long. In addition, hydrangeas typically require little maintenance and thrive in challenging growth environments.

Hydrangeas in Winter

Mulch over the hydrangeas in the winter to protect them. Leave faded blossoms alone to add interest in winter.

You may be wondering how to ensure that your shrubs remain secure over the winter due to the unpredictable nature of the weather. I am aware that I am in Georgia. So I asked Ryan McEnaney of Bailey Nurseries the most important winter care issues for hydrangeas, and fortunately, the answers are straightforward:

Is there a time or temperature when it’s “too late” to winterize hydrangeas?

Any form of protection is beneficial. Winter months bring a wide range of temperatures, so if you’ve already experienced any really chilly spells, some harm may have already been done. Despite this, continue to preserve it to ward off any potential threats in the months to come.

Will mulch prevent plants from heaving? Is there a type of mulch that is better for winterizing plants? When spring returns, do I need to remove the mulch?

Plants in the ground and in containers benefit greatly from mulch during the winter. Beyond providing general security, the mulch’s role is to establish an environment that is more consistent with what is going on outside. Temperatures can change from -10 to 30 degrees in some areas of the nation within a week or two. As a result, the root system is disrupted as water molecules in the ground freeze (contract) and then defrost (expand) (heaving). Mulch aids in minimizing those abrupt alterations to safeguard the plants. We advise using wood mulch, oak leaves, or pine straw.

To prevent damage from late spring, wait until after your last frost date to [remove to the mulch]. However, don’t wait too long as heat can develop moisture, which can cause the stems to rot in the absence of air flow.