The ‘best way’ to tell when hydrangeas are ready for pruning – ‘essential’ tips to follow

Gardeners’ World: Monty Don on growing hydrangeas

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Hydrangeas make a great statement piece in a garden bed, border or container. They put on a spectacular display of flowers in the summer, and then die back in winter. Tolerant to a wide range of soil and light conditions, apart from a little pruning, hydrangeas require almost no maintenance.

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When you prune hydrangeas will depend on what type of hydrangea you have. 

Any hydrangea that produces blooms from new growth will need to be pruned in late winter or early spring. 

Hydrangeas that bloom on old, woody growth will need to be pruned in summer after they have flowered.

The experts at seed and plant company Thomas & Morgan explained: “Apart from climbing hydrangeas, which are pruned in summer, most hydrangeas are pruned in early spring – ideally February to March.”

But how can gardeners tell if their hydrangeas need pruning?

Lee Burkhill from Garden Ninja said: “The best way to tell if your hydrangea is ready for pruning is you will see all the seed heads have dried up and then you’ve got new green buds bursting out. 

“As soon as you see those you know it’s time to prune.”

Although many hydrangeas are pruned at the same time of year in late winter or early spring, the way you prune the different varieties differs, however. 

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Hydrangeas are generally pretty low maintenance shrubs, and among the best flowering shrubs. 

Once you have identified the variety that you have in your garden, it’s easy to get to grips with how to prune hydrangeas. 

Some flower on old wood and some on new wood, so it is important to prune them the correct way to not detrimentally affect their flowering.

Ian Wright, garden consultant at National Trust explained: “Pruning hydrangeas will help the formation of new flowers and promote good shape.”

This then boasts dramatic displays of hydrangeas in many of its gardens.

If hydrangeas are not pruned then they can eventually resemble a tangled mass of woody stems, and the flowers will become smaller and less showy. 

If your hydrangeas are not blooming, lack of pruning is often a reason.

Regular pruning of hydrangeas helps to maintain their shape and also encourages new growth and a better display of blooms. 

The experts at Thompson & Morgan said: “It’s this strong, new growth that ensures you have lots of large, healthy flowers to enjoy in the years to come.”

The best and “essential way to prune hydrangeas, as with all pruning, should be carried out with a sharp, clean pair of gardening tools”, according to the experts. 

This is to create a clean cut that is less prone to infection. 

The way that you prune your hydrangea will depend on the variety that you have, and to some extent the condition of the plant. 

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