When to cut back hydrangeas: The best way to deadhead your plant

Gardeners’ World: Monty Don on growing hydrangeas

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Pruning your hydrangeas now is one of the most important steps to take for a stunning display next summer. But, this depends on what type of hydrangea you have. When should you cut back hydrangeas? And what is the best way to deadhead your plant?

Hydrangeas are the definition of a blooming beautiful plant.

Their colourful flowers brighten up any garden, and they are famously easy to care for.

As summer comes to an end, some species of hydrangea will thank you for a September trim.

So, how can you tell whether your hydrangea needs cutting back?

What are the different types of hydrangeas?

There are two most popular species of hydrangea for British gardeners: lacecaps and mopheads.

Lacecaps, as the name suggests, have delicate little flowers in the centre, and larger ones on the outer edge.

While mopheads have very full and round heads of big petals.

Climbing hydrangeas are another stunning and much-loved species, with clusters of flowers that stay bloomed throughout the autumn months.

When should you prune hydrangeas?

Hydrangeas bloom on so-called ‘old wood’ – growth from last year – so when pruned in early spring, you risk losing dormant flower buds.

By pruning hydrangeas as soon as the flowers fade, you’re giving your plant time to establish buds for next year.

This month, it’s a good time to cut back any climbing hydrangeas you have.

You should cut any long shoots after the plant has flowered. Avoid pruning the top of the plant too much.

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A really well-established climbing hydrangea will be fine with a good, thorough, pruning but you should avoid this on younger plants.

Instead, stagger the pruning throughout the year – doing some in spring, and some after the plant has flowered.

Your hydrangeas will bloom beautifully without much attention, but pruning and dead-heading will produce the most stunning displays.

Dead-heading hydrangeas

Try to resist the temptation to dead-head your mophead hydrangeas this month.

Leaving dead blooms on the plant can actually protect the younger buds from frost over the winter months.

Instead, you should dead-head mophead hydrangeas in early spring by cutting back the stem to the first healthy young buds.

Lacecaps are not so sensitive and can be dead-headed after flowering to the second pair of leaves below the head.

Avoiding problems with hydrangeas

Like many other plants, hydrangeas can be damaged by frost in winter and early spring.

If there is frost damage in early spring, prune the plant back, removing any damaged shoots.

Cut it back to just above the newest undamaged shoots.

Any weak and straggly shoots can be cut off, especially if they are trailing along the ground.

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