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Should you prune hydrangeas in the fall? Pruning is useful for these two species

When the flowers of hydrangeas gradually dry up on the stem, you certainly ask yourself the question of whether the bushes may now be cut. The answer depends on what kind of hydrangea you have in the garden. We summarize which hydrangeas you should prune in the fall and how to do it properly.

Why pruning is so important

Hydrangea pruning in autumn tips

There are few things as beautiful as a hydrangea in full bloom. Unfortunately, if you don’t take care of them, they can quickly become overgrown and look wild.

Pruning hydrangeas is important for two reasons:

  • It encourages new growth
  • It keeps the plant looking neat and tidy

Tip: Make sure you always use clean scissors when pruning!

Pruning hydrangeas in the fall – yes or no?

Cut back withered hydrangeas or not

The right time to prune hydrangeas can be a bit confusing, especially since there seems to be a lot of conflicting information. Since fall is when most plants go into dormancy and prepare for winter, it seems like a good time to prune. Although some hydrangeas are no exception to this rule, there are a few things to keep in mind before you reach for the pruning shears.

Hydrangeas are divided into two main groups: those that bloom on the annual wood and those that bloom on the previous year’s wood. An exception is the hydrangea Endless Summer , which blooms on both old and new wood.

In general, hydrangeas that bloom on previous year’s wood should be cut back immediately after blooming. This gives the plants enough time to form new wood before the onset of winter. Species that bloom on one-year-old wood, on the other hand, can be pruned in late fall before winter dormancy or in early spring.

So before you prune your hydrangeas, you need to know which group they belong to. If a shrub is pruned incorrectly, it may even fail to bloom completely the next year.

Which hydrangeas should be pruned in the fall?

Panicle hydrangeas benefit from autumn pruning

It’s important to know that not all hydrangea species should be pruned in the fall. In fact, most benefit from pruning in the spring, summer or winter, but not in the fall. To determine which hydrangeas you may prune in the fall, you should know the exact species you have.

Hydrangeas can be divided into two pruning groups.

Pruning group 1 includes some of the most popular hydrangeas for the garden – peasant hydrangeas, plate hydrangeas, velvet hydrangeas, giant leaf hydrangeas, oakleaf hydrangeas and climbing hydrangeas. They form their flower buds already in autumn and thus bloom on the previous year’s wood. For these species, pruning is done in the spring and never in the fall.

Hydrangeas of pruning group 2 are the classic summer bloomers panicle hydrangea and snowball hydrangea. They differ from the other species in that they form their flower buds in the year of flowering and not in the previous year. Snowball and panicle hydrangeas can be pruned both in the fall and early spring.

Prune hydrangeas in pruning group 2 in the fall: Instructions

What types of hydrangeas prune in the fall


If you are growing the imposing panicle hydrangeas like Limelight or snowball hydrangeas like Annabelle in your garden, fall is an appropriate time to prune them. We reveal how to do it properly.

1. get tools

Before you begin, you need to gather the right tools. You’ll need:

  • Gardening gloves
  • a clean, sharp secateurs
  • Ladder or step stool (for high growing plants)
  • Container for cuttings

2. remove dead branches

Begin by inspecting the plant and identifying dead or dying branches. These are usually dry, brown and brittle. Using sharp pruning shears, cut the dead branches back to the point where they branch from a living part of the plant. Once you have removed all the dead wood, take a step back and look at the plant as a whole. Make sure you are happy with the shape and size before moving on.

3. Thin out the hydrangea.

Next, you need to thin out the plant by removing any branches that are too long and any troublesome shoots that are growing inward. This is called heavy pruning. Cut them back to a length of about one-third. Young shoots can be cut back to a pair of eyes. Shoots will form from the cuts the following year.

4. remove inflorescences

Cut off faded flowers along with the stem at the base of the plant. Be sure to make a clean cut so the plant can heal quickly.

Once you have removed all faded flowers, be sure to water the plant well. Removing the flower heads can be stressful for the plants, so it’s important to give them a little extra attention after pruning.

Withered panicle hydrangeas what to do

Tip: You can dry the cut flower heads, press them, or add them to beautiful arrangements. Here are some pretty ideas for decoration with dried hydrangeas .