Hydrangeas and Roses

Asked August 20, 2019, 8:08 PM EDT

When is the best time to prune Hydrangeas and Roses? Also How aggressive should the pruning be? I see videos in Youtube that say pruning should be aggressive even if it sounds counter intuitive but I am always scared to cut beyond what I feel is right. But my "feel right" is not based on any knowledge. I am 61, started gardening a few years ago, love it but need to learn a lot. The Hydrangeas and Roses I want to prune are adult plants.

San Diego County California pruning hydrangea roses

1 Response

Hi--Let's start with the roses. Pruning roses isn't difficult, but describing how to do it can be confusing. I'm going to refer you to a really good rose-pruning guide: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/roses/prune.cfm In San Diego, stop watering and fertilizing your roses in November or December to put them into dormancy. Prune them in January or early February, following the guidelines in the article above.

Hydrangeas do fine with little or no pruning. However, if you choose to do so, here are some general guidelines: Prune after bloom in the summer and before the plant starts developing its bloom buds. Take off any dead branches, but make sure they are tan under the bark--they can look dead, but healthy branches show green when you nick back the bark a tiny bit. You can cut off some of the worst branches that are crossing and touching each other. Cut off branches that are lying on the ground. Beyond that, individual branches can be cut to the ground or to a promising side branch, node, or bud down inside the shrub. You can also prune more severely to renovate an overgrown plant, but don't remove more than 1/3 of the plant at a time. For more detailed instructions, see:. http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/files/103022.pdf


I strongly suggest that you get the best book I've ever seen on how to prune. It's written in non-technical language, and give how-tos for pruning in many situations Guide to Pruning by Cass Turnbull. WSU has a good how-to guide, too: http://vpracing.com/rh/pdf/eb1619.pdf