Everybody loves hydrangeas, but not many people know how to prune them.
If there is anything you want to know about a shrub, the place to come is Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden, Connecticut. We’re here with Carl Galanter, who’s going to show us how to prune a panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata and cvs., Zones 3–8).
FG: The first question, Carl, is how do you know you have a panicle hydrangea?
CG: You can tell by how late in the season your shrub flowers. Panicle hydrangeas generally bloom around July, a lot later than Hydrangea macrophylla. Panicle hydrangeas also flower on new growth.
FG: Once you know you have a panicle, how do you prune it?
CG: Along the branches you will see these little bumps; that is where the newly formed stems will be coming out. So I like to prune these hydrangeas hard, but not so hard that I don’t have enough buds to develop into new stems.
FG: How much damage did we just do to this shrub?
CG: None at all. We’re going to have a better-maintained shrub with bigger flowers at the end of the season.
FG: What is the best time to do this pruning?
CG: Late winter to early spring is good—any later in the season and the hydrangea will not flower.
FG: Basically, the time I don’t want to be outside, but it will reward me with better flowers? Sounds like it’s worth it.
More on panicle hydrangeas:
More on pruning hydrangeas: