The many varieties of hydrangeas are hardy shrubs for colder climate zones. They produce large clusters of small flowers, often in white, blue or pink. Some varieties naturally grow with stronger branches than others, so if you choose Incrediball, White Dome, Cityline, Edgy Hearts, Limelight, Let’s Dance Moonlight or others that have been bred to have stronger stems and branches, you’ll avoid the problem of weak branches that some hydrangeas exhibit. If you don’t have a strong-branching type of hydrangea, pruning can help spindly branches become stronger.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Make stiffening cuts on all weak or spindly hydrangea branches before August to ensure good blooming the following season. Cut the plant back by about one-third when it is about 5 years old. Cut weak branches about one-third of the way back to the main branch, making your cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch from a node where a flower bud or leaf protrudes.
Remove all dead, damaged or diseased branches back to the ground to encourage healthy growth of the plant’s other branches. You can cut dead branches at any time of year.
Prune about one-third of all branches back to ground level in summer to encourage good growth of the remaining branches.
Deadhead spent blooms and flowers you use for arrangements by cutting long stems. If you do this after July, cut only short stems to conserve buds that will bloom the following year.
Stake your hydrangea when it blooms if the branches droop under the weight of the flower clusters. Gently tie the weak branches to stakes you have pounded into the ground around it, using nursery tape or strips of fabric.
The professional growers at Hydrangeas Hydrangeas caution against severe pruning of this plant. Prune judiciously and as little as possible.