This is often a really confusing area for most gardeners, but we will break it down into cultivars and have specific answers for specific hydrangeas.
The most popular common name for these hydrangeas is the “limelight” variety. These hydrangeas bloom on old and new growth so they can be pruned just about any time of the year. A lot of people typically prune them back in the winter, but some people do not prune them at all and they leave the old blooms on the stem to accent the landscape in the winter.
These hydrangeas are the tricky ones. These are the blue mophead hydrangeas that are a classic staple to the southern landscape. We typically tell our crews not to prune these hydrangeas. They typically do not bloom on new growth so a severe pruning may eliminate blooms for the next year. The ideal time to prune these if you do not want remove setting buds is during the time they are blooming which is usually May or June. There are newer varieties like Endless Summer that do bloom on new growth, but it is usually impossible to tell which ones are an older variety or newer variety in the landscape.
The most popular arborescens hydrangea is the Annabelle. These hydrangeas also bloom on new wood so they can pruned during the winter.
These hydrangeas commonly known as oakleaf hydrangeas also bloom on new growth so they can handle some late season pruning, but typically the natural growing habit of these hydrangeas is desirable and pruning is not usually necessary. There are several dwarf varieties of these now so planting the correctly sized variety is always preferable.
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