There are various types of hydrangea bushes, the mophead hydrangea being the most common. Hydrangea pruning instructions may vary slightly with other types. Although hydrangea pruning care may differ, all hydrangeas can benefit from the removal of dead stems and spent blooms each year.

Pruning hydrangea bushes is not usually necessary unless the shrubs have become overgrown or unsightly. You can safely remove spent blooms (deadhead) anytime. However, there are a couple deadheading tips to keep in mind for optimal results:

  • Try to keep cuts above the first set of large leaves or only cut down to the last healthy buds. This ensures the safety of any developing blooms for the next season.
  • When pruning hydrangea bushes that have become overgrown, cut stems to the ground. Although this may delay blooming the following season, it helps revitalize the plants.
  • Big Leaf Hydrangea (H. macrophylla) includes the commonly grown mophead and lacecap varieties. When hydrangea pruning care should be performed for these sometimes varies. Generally, they are pruned in late summer, after blooming has ceased. However, some people prune them in fall while others do so in spring.
  • As long as you do not cut any stems that have not bloomed, leaving healthy buds intact, they should be okay.
  • Prune weak stems to the ground and cut or deadhead spent flowers and stems to the last bud. Many people also enjoy leaving the flower heads over winter for additional interest. When to prune hydrangea bushes varies and is not an exact science. Keep in mind that pruning hydrangea is not always necessary, and unless the situation calls for it, they can simply be left alone. Removal of spent blooms and dead stems each year should be adequate for maintaining healthy hydrangea bushes.

Read about other varieties of hydrangea and when to prune them at Gardening Know How: Prune Hydrangea Bushes: Hydrangea Pruning Instructions