How and When to Prune Hydrangeas in MN

These shrubs are simple enough to grow, but there are a few things to note when it comes to when to prune hydrangeas in Minnesota. Hint: It all depends on the type of hydrangea.

Nothing is quite as striking as the profuse flower heads of hydrangeas in a summer garden. To ensure you get the best floral display from these shrubs, you'll need to know some things about how and when to prune your hydrangeas. It can be a bit confusing because there's no one way that applies to all the different types. For example, when you should cut back an 'Endless Summer' hydrangea differs from when you should prune a 'Snowball' hydrangea. If you prune your shrubs at the wrong time, you run the risk of cutting off all the flower buds–resulting in no blooms that year. We've compiled what you need to know to avoid this.

Hydrangea Pruning Tips

Pruning these shrubs each year does not only encourage them to produce more flowers, but also helps to keep them healthy if they suffer damage from weather, and allows you to shape them however you desire. The first step to figuring out the best time to prune your hydrangea is identifying what type it is. The two most popular:

  • Macrophylla
  • Paniculata

How to Prune Macrophylla Hydrangeas

The popular mophead or bigleaf hydrangea is distinguished by its color-changing flowers. When the shrub is planted in acidic soil, its flowers are blue. While planting in alkaline soil will result in pink flowers. Since this plant blooms on the previous season's growth, commonly known as old wood, flowering depends on if you prune them in spring.

For optimal blooms, Macrophylla hydrangeas should be pruned shortly following the fading of the flowers in late summer. This way, the shrub will be able to produce new growth for next year's flower buds to form.

Some newer variations of mophead/bigleaf hydrangea, including a crowd favorite: 'Endless Summer', have been bred to bloom on both new wood and old wood. This makes them the better choice for those who live in colder climates (such as the Midwest) because regardless of winter damage to stems, new growth will still bloom. Additionally, this provides more flexibility in your pruning schedule because you can prune at any time of year and your plant should still bloom. Still, we suggest pruning directly after bloom to maximize future flowering.

How to Prune Paniculata Hydrangeas

Paniculata hydrangeas–which includes popular varieties such as 'Limelight'– and smooth hydrangeas, best known for the variety 'Annabelle', bloom on new wood, meaning they bloom on that same year's growth. Typically, shrubs that flower on new wood start blossoming later than old wood bloomers. The timing for pruning isn't as critical as it is for bigleaf varieties, you just need to be sure to avoid pruning when the flower buds are opening.

How you prune paniculatas depends on your objective. If you are simply trying to shape plants that are too tall, you can sheer the ends from each branch. If you need to rejuvenate a spindly shrub with severe pruning, you should cut all the branches back until they are roughly a foot above the ground during late winter or early spring–while the plant is still dormant. As a result, the plant will produce lots of new growth and you will see flowers later that year.

Tips for Planting and Watering Hydrangeas

Unless the ground is frozen, hydrangeas can be planted almost any time of year. It's best practice to plant your hydrangeas at about the same soil depth they are at in their nursery pot. Always read the guidelines on the plant tag to ensure that you space them out properly. Certain breeds of hydrangeas stay more compact, while others can get quite large–it's important to know which you have. If you're not sure, consult your local expert.

Of equal importance to pruning is properly watering your hydrangeas. Even skipping a day or two of watering them in the summer can affect them, so make sure their soil does not dry out. If your hydrangea starts wilting, a good soaking should get it to perk back up quickly.

Want to Start Planting?

Now is the perfect time to bring color into your yard with Hydrangeas you’ll enjoy for years to come. Dundee is your one-stop shop for improving your yard– with knowledgeable staff and an extensive list of services to help you achieve your dream yard or garden. Visit our website to learn more, or call the Plymouth location at (763) 559-4016 to speak with the team.