pruning leggy hydrangeas

Asked November 3, 2019, 6:56 PM EST

My hyrdangeas have grown too leggy -- 4 feet tall but drooping nearly down to the ground. The large blossoms on thin stems weigh the stems down so instead of standing up the stems bend over. I would like to rejuvenate them b ut have never cut them way back. I usually cut them back only a leaf node or two. Can I cut them way down to redevelop stiff stems even if I might miss a growing season? I have done this with rhodos, cut a tall plant down to a couple of feet and they have responded well save for the fact that I might have missed a season of blossoms. I can't find anything online other than the usual blossoms on old wood, cut out dead stems, etc. Help.

Benton County Oregon trees and shrubs

1 Response

If your garden has hydrangeas, then you need to know that there are two distinct types of hydrangeas which are pruned very differently. One type produces flower buds on “old wood” and the other type produces bloom buds on “new wood.” Hydrangeas are deciduous shrubs.

Badly neglected, overgrown plants can be cut back to the ground level in early spring to rejuvenate the plant.

Always remove dead or damaged stems as the first step during routine pruning. When shortening stems, cut back to just above a pair of healthy buds. Winter damaged stems can routinely be cut back to living wood; the shrubs rarely die.

Hydrangeas do not require strict regular pruning; simply keep them healthy by removing dead wood and they will grow and flower well. The best advice for hydrangeas is to consider their mature size. Locate them in an area they won't outgrow and require heavy pruning to keep them in bounds.

Here is a publication that may be useful:

https://ucanr.edu/datastoreFiles/268-86.pdf

Hope this helps!