Pruning hydrangeas: ‘Easy’ way to prune the flowers in ‘two bursts’

Gardeners’ World: Monty Don on growing hydrangeas

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Pruning prevents hydrangeas becoming woody and congested, and channels the plants’ energy into producing strong growth and large blooms. After pruning, mulch the plant with well rotted manure or compost. Different types of hydrangea are pruned in different ways, as some flower on old wood and some on new. Pruning incorrectly will affect flowering. Gardening expert Louise Findlay-Wilson of Blooming Lucky, has explained how easy it is to prune hydrangeas.

Hydrangeas are a favourite plant amongst British gardeners, beloved for their colourful and shapely blooms.

Louise spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk on the easy way to prune hydrangeas.

She said: “With their balls, mopheads or cones of lovely flowers, in pink, white or blue, hydrangeas are a garden classic. I love them – in fact, I have 10!

“Yet some people avoid them, fearing they’re tricky to prune. This really isn’t the case. 

“It is easy to prune hydrangeas, you just need to know the type of hydrangea you have.”

Hydrangea paniculata and hydrangea arborescens

Louise explained that hydrangea paniculata and hydrangea arborescens are the simplest plants to prune.

She said: “The paniculata and arborescens varieties such as the popular ‘Annabelle’ produce their flowers on new wood.

“You’ve less chance of pruning them in the wrong way and losing this year’s flowers!”

The gardening expert detailed how gardeners should be pruning these types of hydrangeas.

Louise said: “Come early spring, simply prune the last year’s growth back to a nice tidy framework that’s about 30-60cm tall, cutting to just above a pair of healthy buds on each stem. 

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“Relax, don’t obsess, thinking you’ve got to cut the stems so they’re an absolutely identical length.

“If you feel nervous, prune in two bursts. Go down so far, have a cup of tea and then go back and look to see if you can go a bit lower.”

Hydrangea macrophylla (lacecap and mophead hydrangeas) and hydrangea serrata

These types of hydrangeas can be “trickier” to prune according to Louise.

She said: “The classic lacecap and mophead varieties are a little trickier as they produce their flowers on old wood. 

“Don’t prune them back hard, or you’ll prune away this summer’s flowers. 

“In mid-spring carefully cut back the flower head to just above the top set of lovely plump buds that are forming – you will see them just under the dead flower head.”

Hydrangea aspera and hydrangea quercifolia

These varieties only need “light” pruning during this time.

The gardening expert said: “Give these varieties a light prune in the spring. 

“All you’re really aiming to do is to tidy them up – removing old or criss-crossing stems and old flower heads. Do nothing more complicated than that.”

Climbing hydrangeas 

For gardeners who have climbing hydrangeas they will not require pruning in spring.

Louise said: “For the climber, hydrangea petiolaris, leave any pruning to the Summer, after flowering. 

“Then you want to cut back the flowered shoots to a pair of new buds.”

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