Get your hydrangea pruning right this spring with these top expert tips

Pruning hydrangeas is mostly easy, but there are a couple of variations to be aware of

Pruning hydrangeas
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Hydrangea pruning is an important part of keeping this garden favourite thriving. Hydrangeas work brilliant as part of both contemporary and traditional garden design ideas, and they're one of the best shade-loving plants, which makes them perfect for gardens with almost any aspect.  

Where it comes to pruning, everyone has heard the basic advice – to prune in early spring when they're in bud, and to always prune just above a bud. But, as it turns, there's a little bit more to hydrangea pruning than that – and understanding the correct timings for pruning make a real difference to the quality of the blooms.

Hydrangea pruning

(Image credit: Unsplash)

In fact, the most important thing to know is not so much how but when to prune your hydrangeas, and this will depend on the variety that you're growing. Gena Lorainne, gardening expert at Fantastic Services, explains: 'There are two groups of hydrangeas, the first ones will bloom on last year’s growth and need late summer pruning. The second ones need new growth and will bloom on new wood, these should be pruned in late winter or early spring.'

'Hydrangeas that require summer pruning are Climbing hydrangeas, Bigleaf hydrangeas, Oakleaf hydrangeas and Mountain hydrangeas. These will thrive healthily when trimmed right after flowering stops and no later than July. Prune lightly by cutting dead, diseased and broken woods, that’s enough to maintain a healthy and good shaped plant.'

Never prune that group of hydrangeas harshly or in autumn or winter, as this can lead to new buds dying.

Blue hydrangea

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'Hydrangeas that should be pruned in winter or late spring are Smooth hydrangeas and Panicle hydrangeas. These require harder pruning right after the leaves start to show up.' The pruning process is very simple here, as Gena points out: 'Simply cut back all branches by one half above the node and that will keep the plant in bounds. Also, to promote a strong framework, you can cut back the surrounding smaller wood.' 

As this expert advice proves, pruning these shade loving plants is all about timing, but the technique for hydrangeas is actually very simple. There is just one technical thing to remember, says Dobbies Garden Centres resident gardening expert and Horticultural Director, Marcus Eyles: 'Prune to an outward-facing bud and make sure there are no branches crossing in the middle, to ensure air can circulate.' We like it when gardening advice is this simple. 

Ready to get pruning? Browse the best secateurs for the job in our buyer's guide or check out today's best deals below.