Pruning Hydrangeas


Pruning Hydrangeas by Proven Winners.




Identify your hydrangeas -There are six main types of hydrangeas commonly grown in North American gardens.


Bigleaf - CITYLINE® Rio Hydrangea
Panicle - BOBO® Hydrangea


Also known as florist’s hydrangea, hortensia, mophead, or lacecap. Hydrangea macrophylla
  • Hardy to USDA zone 5
  • Bloom on old wood: do not prune, protect in winter

Proven Winners® varieties include:
Abracadabra® series, Cityline® series, Edgy® series, Let’s Dance® series, Paraplu



Also known as peegee hydrangea. Hydrangea paniculata

  • Hardy to USDA zone 3. 
  • Bloom on new wood: prune in late winter/early spring.

Proven Winners® varieties include:
Bobo®, Fire Light, ‘Limelight,Little Lime, ‘Little Lamb,’ Pinky Winky®, Quick Fire®, Little Quick Fire®, Ziinfin Doll®




Smooth - INCREDIBALL® Hydrangea


Hydrangea petiolaris


Also known as Annabelle hydrangea. Hydrangea arborescens

  • Hardy to USDA zone 3
  • Bloom on new wood: prune in late winter/early spring

Proven Winners® varieties include: Incrediball® series  and Invincibelle® Spirit II





Hydrangea petiolaris are hardy to USDA zone 4. Note: While we do not have hydrangea vine in our collection, we do have false hydrangea vine: Rose Sensation Schizophragma hydrangeoides.

Mountain -  TUFF STUFF® Hydrangea


Mountain -  GATSBY MOON® Hydrangea


Hydrangea serrata are

  • Hardy to USDA zone 5
  • Bloom on old wood: do not prune

Proven Winners® varieties include: Tuff Stuff series



Hydrangea quercifolia are

  • Hardy to USDA zone 5
  • Bloom on old wood: do not prune, protect in winter

Proven Winners® varieties include: Gatsby series




Why isn't my hydrangea blooming?




Tips for Success:

  • Moist but well-drained soil (hydrangeas will not tolerate wet feet – ever!)
  • Some sun each day. Most people think of hydrangeas as shade plants, but they look and flower best with at least 4 hours of sun, ideally in the morning. Panicle hydrangeas are the most sun tolerant, and can take full sun in northern climates.
  • Plenty of water, especially as they are getting established. Hydrangeas have shallow roots, so they dry out quickly. A 2-3” thick layer of shredded bark mulch is a useful addition to any hydrangea planting.


It is the ways in which these six hydrangeas dif fer that make them confusing.



The trickiest thing about hydrangeas is that different types have different flowering habits:

Panicle and smooth hydrangeas flower on new wood (growth created in the current season). Flower buds on these hydrangeas form after the plant leafs out in spring, and open a few months later in summer. As a result, these plants flower reliably each year, no matter how cold the winter was.

Bigleaf, mountain, oakleaf, and climbing hydrangeas flower on old wood (growth created in the previous season). Flower buds on these hydrangeas begin to form in late summer and must remain undisturbed all through the fall, winter, spring, in order to flower the following summer.
As a result, these plants will not flower if:

  • They are pruned. Pruning at any time will remove potential flower buds.
  • They are browsed by deer, which will eat the flower buds.
  • They are damaged by weather. Winter weather isn’t actually the problem; rather, it is in spring, when several days of warm temperatures are followed by a sudden freeze, that flower buds are most likely to be damaged.

Reblooming hydrangeas, also known as remontant hydrangeas, are types of big leaf and mountain hydrangeas
that have the unique ability to flower on both old and new wood. Even if the buds are damaged in winter weather,
the plant can still flower on wood it produces that season. Reblooming hydrangea varieties include the Let’s
Dance series, and Tuff Stuff.


All hydrangeas undergo some color change as their flowers age, but only big-leaf and mountain hydrangeas can change their color in a predictable, controllable way. It is not the pH of the soil that is responsible for this change – it is actually the presence of aluminum in the soil that does it.

  • Certain varieties of bigleaf hydrangeas cannot experience color change – generally speaking, the more intense the color, the less likely it can change (Cityline® Paris hydrangea is a good example). Similarly, white varieties of big-leaf hydrangea will not change color.
  • It is easier to change a hydrangea from pink to blue than from blue to pink, but both endeavors involve making chemical application in specific amounts at specific times. A soil test is necessary to determine the best course of action. If you decide to try to change the flower color, shop for products carefully and read all directions.
  • Pennies or nails in the soil will not change the flower color!


  • Avoid pruning reblooming hydrangeas and those that flower on old wood, altogether. Instead, site these hydrangeas  appropriately so they do not need to be pruned, and choose varieties that do not get too big
    for their space.
  • New-wood flowering hydrangeas can be pruned each early spring, just as the new growth begins to emerge.
    Remove up to one-third of the height each year if desired to encourage vigorous new growth and strong stems to
    support the flowers.
  • Hydrangeas do not strictly require regular pruning. They will grow and flower well with nothing more than removal of spent flowers and any dead wood each early spring.