When and how to prune hydrangeas like Endless Summer and other varieties seems to be one of the most confusing issues that gardeners face. Why is that? Conflicting information that’s what the problem is. So in just a moment here I am going to forever set the record straight for you. But first, let’s have a chat about this plant, Endless Summer Hydrangea.
In short? It’s an awesome plant and unlike some of the other Hydrangeas, this baby blooms like clock work! Because it is said to bloom on both new wood and old wood it is a more predictable bloomer. Is that true? What in the world do you mean by new wood and old wood?
Okay. In the Nursery Biz we refer to the stems on plants as “wood”. Why? I dunno, we just do. So any growth that has taken place this growing season is considered new wood. Growth from previous growing seasons is considered old wood.
Now I have a confession to make.
But first, another photo for you enjoy.
I’ve been in this business in one way or another since about the age of sixteen and for those of you that are counting, that would be about forty one years. No schooling, no college, no trade school, just me and the dirt learning from others who also learned hands on.
People in Your Town would Love to Buy Small Plants like
Endless Summer Hydrangea from You! Take a Peek.
My confession? I can’t figure out all of this new wood, old wood, when should I prune my hydrangea nonsense. I get that Hyrdangea like Paniculata Grandiflora and Annabelle bloom on “new wood” and therefore if you trim them in the spring or summer before they bloom you are going to stop them from blooming. I got it. That’s easy.
But Nikko Blue Hydrangea on the other hand are said to bloom on old wood and whatever you do don’t prune them in the spring or the summer, you have to prune them right after they finish blooming. Got it! Don’t prune them in the spring. However,
I Recently Broke the Rules of Hydrangea Pruning and . . .
My Nikko Blues are blooming like crazy plants. This is what happened. This spring I bought about 100 Nikko Blue Hydrangea. These plants were field grown and dug just a little bit late and they suffered some damage from being dug so late. In short, they looked bad. So we took to pruning them in May.
May!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mike are you a crazy person?
Hmmmm. That’s debatable, but I am a nurseryman and they needed pruning so they got pruned. That’s how it works in the nursery biz. There are no books, no rules to follow, no Internet Geniuses to ask, keep in mind, nurseryman have been at this long before there was an Internet, so believe it or not, plants can function without Google.
My Nikko Blue Hydrangea looked pretty bad so we cut them back considerable and there really was nothing more than a few inches of growth left after we got done pruning. After that we left them alone. Plants like that. They like to be left alone when they are having a bad day. They need time to recover.
So here it is July 2nd and those Nikko Blue Hydrangea that we so viciously pruned are nice and full and loaded with flowers. Go figure! Good thing I don’t listen to those guys on the Internet. I am not including photos of the Nikko Blue because this post is supposed to be about Endless Summer Hydrangea and how to prune them. But I will get those posted for you. So . . .
This is How You Prune Endless Summer Hydrangea.
You look at the plant, not the calender, and you prune the plant as needed. Ideally the best time to prune any Hydrangea is right after it blooms. Write that on your wrist. “The best time to prune any hydrangea is right after it blooms.” However, life gets in the way and we often miss these “ideal windows of opportunity for pruning” so what should we do when that happens?
We should prune the plant. That’s what we should do.
If it needs pruned, then by all means prune it.
Not pruning a plant when it needs pruning is the worst mistake you can make in your garden. Prune when the plants need it. Do not wait for these “ideal windows of opportunity” for pruning. Prune, prune prune. If they need it pruning, prune them today.
When you see me on video look in the right front pocket of my bibs. Pruning shears. They are part of my uniform. And they come out often! Doesn’t matter when it is, if I’m walking by and I see something that needs pruned, it gets pruned.
About this Endless Summer Hydrangea.
These photos are from the plants in my landscape, we’ve got four of them and they are awesome. They are very predictable about blooming. They bloom like crazy and they are easy to care for. Other varieties from the Macrophylla family of hydrangeas like Nikko Blue and some of the reds? Not so much. They can be more challenging. So if you want a hydrangea that you’ll really enjoy, hunt down an Endless Summer Hydrangea.
If you had 100 or 500 Hydrangea Rooted Cuttings Right Now,
People Would Give You Money for them. Check it out.
Questions? Comments? Shout em out below!
Martha Cabados says
Hi Mike, I just received some Nikko Blue Hydrangeas today from a member. Since I’m not familiar with hydrangeas I was wondering if it’s normal for the stems to have short brown lines on them or is it a disease? I appreciate your input. I went ahead and potted them so I could get them watered.
Could be just winter damage, once they bud out they should be fine.
Martha Cabados says
Thanks, Mike,,,I’ll hang in there.
The root ball on endless summer seems so large, tight and raised up in a lump. Should I just leave it alone or try to divide it?
Endless Summer Hydrangea is a patented plant and believe it or not, it’s against the law to propagate it even for your own use. If you feel the need to break it apart, legally you’d have to dispose of what you remove. With that said, it’s your yard, I just want others to know how plant patent laws actually work. But it’s probably fine just as it is. A plant doesn’t really need dividing until the center dies out.
My husband just cut all branches on my endless summer from last year down to 4inches we have a lot of new growth underneath starting he did not touch that. Will it still bloom or did he destroy 8 endless summers.
They’ll be fine, should bloom like crazy. Most died all the way back this winter anyway.
I had a gardener at my home & he butchered my hydraendas . This past weekend. Nothing left of them. I told him 2 leave them but guess my Spanish isn’t as good as I thought! Wonder if they’ll survive? Should I fertilize them? Anyone with a similiar situation?
Don’t do anything to them right now, I’m sure they’ll be fine in a few weeks. By mid summer you’ll probably be quite happy with them.
My mom has a plant that has not bloomed. In two years. Can you tell me if she has pruned it incorrectly. And we live in Kentucky is it ok to prune it now since she has not had any blooms?
If it needs pruning, prune it now. Chances are your mom did nothing wrong, it will bloom when it’s ready.
Yep, that’s correct. I was about to ditch my Endless Summer after 4 years and nothing but foliage but last summer it was covered in incredible blue and purple blooms that aged to wine red. Really stunning. Guess like fruit trees it has to age a little first before it puts out it’s fruit (blooms).
My endless summer hydrangeas bloomed but the heat toasted them and the flowers are brown. Can I prune off the dead blossoms and have new blooms this year? Thanks. Sue
Absolutely remove the blooms and you should get more flowers on the plant.
I just planted my hydrangea will follow your instruction and
advise you my results
you’ve offered a great help all these years
Have a great summer
I live in New Zealand and prune mine in late winter (August) when the worst of the frosts are over , I get great flowers year after year’
Thanks Mike some great tips.
Hello, we just planted Hydrangea bushes this spring. They were looking rather bad and then started to look really good just a few weeks ago. the blooms that were beautiful at Home depot were wilted and becoming brown and new buds were forming. Well yesterday the old blooms were just gone and I cut them off…the new blooms and newer buds are looking great. Hope I didnt do something wrong…
You did just fine, your plants will thank your for the pruning.
Should have mentioned that I live in southeast Michigan
Thanks for the great info on the Endless Summer Hydrangea. Interestingly I just received an Angel’s Parasol Hydrangea as a gift. Until reading your article didn’t realize that Hydrangeas are hard to grow. Do you have any advise on how to care the Angel’s Parasol Hydrangea? I have never dealt with Hydrangeas before.
mike wondering if there is a follow up on this post. My wife received one of these as a gift. It seems like it’s a dwarf hydrangea, would like to know the eventual size in order to place it in the garden.
Unlike Miriam, I live in Oregon and our hydrangeas generally thrive.
You can google to see the eventual size, but I have mine in my landscape in an area where I will not allow them to get larger 30″ in any direction.
I also recieved an Angel’s Parasol as a gift. I have it indoors as of now and a few days after recieving it, the blooms started to wither and fall off? Is it just done blooming or what could have happened? How should I prune these so that I can see new blooms? Any advice will be very helpful as I love this beautiful plant, Thank you so much Mike!!
Angel’s Parasol is a commonly used hydrangea by florists and probably not a typical hardy hydrangea. The blooms were probably forced. The plant needs to set new flower buds and that will take some time.
My hydrangea has been beautiful all spring and now into summer. But, I fertilized it, along with my other flowering plants, and the blooms have turned brown and greenish. What is the rule on fertilizing hydrangeas?
I really don’t fertilize any of the plants in my landscape. Never have. They look great.
Hi Mike, Have your backyard growing system. Need to get on the Backyard Growers Business Center. How do I do this. Eddie
Hey Mike…I live in Ontario Canada.
What’s a good blue hydrangea variety for this zone?
I’m north of Toronto.
The ‘Blue’ species sold in Canada are to be considered Annuals depending on your zone. The ‘Garden Center’ varieties are much better for the outdoors than the ‘Tin Foil Type’..ie;Potted ones from Safeways, etc. Most are a zone 6 or 7 plant, and probably will not survive a Canadian Winter anyways, unless you ‘dig them up in the fall and pot them’ to bring indoors. Also, to keep the Blue color, soil must be fairly acidic, or they will turn ‘pink’ ! I have yet to have a ‘Blue’ survive a second year here in zone 3..but they are nice if you can find them at a good price..for one season anyway ! Good Luck !
Say, have you heard about or grown the Hydrangea called “Incrediball”? It has blooms that are 12″ in dia. and is superior in stem strength to “Annabelle” I’m growing some for the second season and they’re huge!
Sounds interesting, never heard of it but it sounds like it’s worth checking out.
I never know where to post and am by nature skiddish about public postings but in any event, thanks for the invite!
Unfortunately, due to the leftover CNS Lyme bacteria I am pretty much confined to a 10 minute radius from my home. Not complaining, just the situation.
I’ve been visibly successful with one out of two Hydrangea cuttings with both new leaves and a root system. I’ve ‘stuck’ about a hundred other cuttings, around a dozen of each kind, and will see what does/doesn’t make it in two months. If it looks like success, I’ll be in panic mode about what to do next!
Thanks for all of your encouragement!
Keep up the good work. I often hear from people that have a lot of trouble rooting cuttings, then all they have to do is change one thing and they can get hundreds at a time to root. I have a group of backyard growers that root hundreds of thousands of cuttings, so it is very much possible.
I’m supposed to wait until 8/1/13 to resume my subscription to Rural again, which I’m greatly looking forward to and plan on keeping ad infinitum, OR subscribing to Backyard instead, but in any event since this discussion is about hydrangeas, I’ve got a question.
I thought the color of the flower depended upon the acidity of the soil; my wife has me dump coffee grounds on the soil around our one plant because she wants it to be a rich blue. True/False?
I love the color of the plant your showing here, but if it were in an acid soil would it be blue? This is confusing to me because you mention Nikko Blue and refer to ‘red’ varieties too.
Hope you take a break today and just enjoy it with your wonderful family and friends,
Looking forward to hearing your answers to above questions! I wrote before that I have been trying propating a few of my on plants before I invet in your system…many cuttings are from my hydrangeas. Lost 5 out of 6 first round…now all are still standing after 2 weeks with tiny shoots. MaybeI can do this????? 5 Cuttings are from a varigated lacecap I paid $75 for…have 3..never bloomed again since 1st season I purchased them. Didn’t grow from any wood this year but from the ground…bushy but no blooms yet! No blooms for 3-4 yrs now! What’s the answer to that one?????
With hydranges it often depends on where you live. I’m in Ohio zone 6 and for the most part they do fine here. Usually they are easy enough to root from cuttings using one of these methods. http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
I have two hydranga’s, one is a strawberry & the other have the leaves like the one above but the flat flowers. When I bouoght it, it was greenish-blue in color. Now that it;’s blooming this year its pink so far. The flower isn’t completely opened yet. The strawberry hydranga is reall a full plant & I will have to transplant further back in the fall after blooming, is that the correct time to do that?
I wish I had 1 of every color, they are just my favorite.
The ideal time to transplant Hydrangea and or most other plants is late fall, after a hard freeze and the plants are dormant. That way there is not shock to the plant.
I have a pink one in my yard. I did not realize what it was. I had this huge ugly woody plant in my yard when I moved in last spring. I got tired of looking at it and cut it back about ground level. Mid may last year my landlord asked about it and all I could say was oops. I felt really bad. However, it does have new growth and blooms this June. I afraid to touch it, but would love to get a few cuttings. Should I give it more time to heal?
Taking a few cuttings won’t hurt the plant. Do them like this; http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
We moved into our house 6 years ago. It was already beautifully landscaped. I couldn’t identify most of the plants if my life depended on it. How do I know what type of hydrangea we have? It doesn’t look anything like the pictures you have. The flowers are white/pinkish, cone shaped and the plant is about 6′ tall now. I’ve been giving it vinegar/water to help pink up the blooms. It is so tall that the stems are bending over. I want to prune it back but it’s covered in flowers and don’t want to cut them off until after they die. It that correct?
Your hydrangea is probably in the P.G. family, Annebelle or a similar hydrangea. Come late fall you can cut it back as hard as you like and it will come back nicely.
I am so glad to read this because it confirms that I am not crazy! 🙂 I trimmed mine back in May also. It was scraggly and it needed it. I figured I wouldn’t have flowers until next year and I was ok with that. But it is covered in lush blooms now! I was so excited! I love hydrangeas and they make great cut flowers that last a long time. Have some in my kitchen right now. Thanks for the great article!
Oregon calling :grew up with hydrageias my grandma had stood five feet !
CALLED THEM SUMMER SNOWBALLS HUGE . She has been gone for some time so I should put some on her site ! Think she would have loved internet in her later years ! My hydras are new one year . red white &blue . planted them where yucca were and you know them every now and then I have to pull them . Need some BLOOMS . went away and the potted one went brown. black clay soil with soil on top venue ?! The Italian pine died but I moved what looked like a deceased rose and it is back !
fragrant roses and hydragias ! !!!!!!
Paddy & O Brian except if that was your father s name ! ha
worked at a mini horse training and groom ! One hit the ground at 25,000$$$$$$$$ as is . there is a circuit for showing – some fun – !!!!!!
One guy had a mini buckboard and four palimino mini pulling the red white and blue ! wowlol what a show !!!!!! they do get nosey if you are digging a hole and will come to inspect !!! ha ha And just a PS they do not know that they are not a full size and it wont matter when they step on you !
So how do I know when something needs to be pruned, mike?
If you don’t like the way it looks it probably needs pruning. So really, it’s more of a personal preference.
LOVE these plants and had several when I lived in Pa. NOW I live in Florida. Zone 9. Are there ANY that would survive the heat????? here?
I’m not sure about that, I’d have to look into it. The heat might be okay, but some shade would help a lot.
Janis Haug says
Yes, at Daytona Beach and just a block from the Atlantic!
deborah maisonet says
BTW, i’m in zone 7-eastern NC.
deborah maisonet says
loved the article…1 question: where can i find RED Hydrangeas, or do they even exist?
They do exist, I had a couple in my landscape and they struggled. Ruby Red, I think that was the variety. Maybe northern Ohio was just a little too far north from them. Now I wish I’d have kept them just to give them more time. I’ll see if I can two more to plant at the nursery.
I did the same “terrible” thing you did to one of my hydrangeas. It has been in the ground for 6 years and is only about 8″ in diameter and 6″ high. It grows from old wood. It never gets any bigger. So I held my breath and trimmed off the old wood this year. I figured do or die. Amazingly the plant is twice the size as ever before, and has many blooms??? Go figure. Maybe it does need that every so often, to re-boot if you will. Of course the weather in Ohio has been very abundant with good old rain water. I wish I knew what is in rain that makes my plants go crazy.
Thanx for your time!
Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker says
Mike, I just did this to some roses that I transplanted. I am hoping they make it; much has died back on them. Our landscaping project has taken a lot longer than we planned (delayed 5 weeks by a very long wait for the HOA to give a go-ahead) and right after I planted the temperature shot way up to 118º. It’s been that way for several days and it will be cooling down to 110º around Friday. It’s not a great time to plant at all, but it was time to finish up the project, so in they went.
I’m pruning fruit trees in summer, too, so that next year’s fruit on this year’s wood isn’t too high for me to reach!
You’re plants should be fine. Keep them watered as needed, but don’t drown them. Check the soil before watering. If you see leaf burn create some temporary shade over the plants that seem to be having a problem.
I HAVE A BLUE HYDRANGEA AND THE ONLY TIME IT BLOOMED IS WHEN I BOUGHT IT IN BLOOM. I FED IT, WATER IT, NOTHING. I ALSO HAVE THE PINK HYDRANGEA AND I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THAT ONE. I NEED HELP WITH THE BLUE HYDRANGEA
My advice would be to just leave your blue hydrangea alone. Left alone it knows what to do. But if you are fertilizing it might be too busy growing to make flowers. Give it time, the blooms are often damaged over the winter. But it will bloom when it’s ready.
Mike, My daughter in law would like to take cuttings from her grandfather’s plants and start them at their new home. Help!
Now is the absolute best time to take cuttings, pick any one of these methods. http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
How does the cutting business work with you? Do I order the cuttings from you? How do I get the word out that I m selling cuttings?do I need a license or permit. Tell me the “scoop”, please! Kelly
The best thing for you to do is to start with my system, http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm, it contains a ton of really important information that you should have. I know you’re not crazy about paying for the system, but it’s a great investment and it is the only means I have of justifying the time I spend giving away gardening information online.
Grandpa Mal the kiddies' pal says
Hydrangeas. Love-hate! Gorgeous blooms–when they bloom. When to prune; when not to. Old wood; new wood. How much water, how much sun, how much fertilizer, add aluminum or not; frigid winter, mild winter. Really, aren’t they just like stubborn little kids, they will do what they want, when they want? We have eight plants. Three big Endless Summer were planted by a nursery three years ago. Only a couple of flowers the first year and second year. Voluptuous leaves, though. They told us to try this and that. Last fall we did not prune, no fertilizer, and it has been a lousy long winter north of NY City. But, voila! They are blooming like crazy on both old and new wood.
Another smaller E-S we planted is also blooming well. However, another E-S that we planted ourselves has had no blooms for four years. Full of leaves, though.
We planted three hydrangea “trees” PGs (?) (just babies, about three feet tall) last year. Now, two have nice leaf growth and hopefully will bloom later in the season. The third, put out no leaves and looked dead, but has since put out growth from the top of the root ball.
Our in-laws have four hydrangea trees, about 6-7 feet tall that regularly put out just the most beautiful blooms.
Love them and leave them?!
Mike..I have an older, lacecap hydrangea, name unknown and I always leave the heads on for the winter, and prune in the spring. I find you can tell where the flowers are going to be by the new growth. I had also done my Mother’s old fashioned regular hydrangeas the same way, and they had wonderful blooms afterwards.
Mary Jane Levan says
Hi, Mike…Can we grow hydrangias in SW Florida? Moved here 2 years ago from Ohio (down the road from you in Willowick) and gardening here is a whole new ballgame! Just fenced our yard and those would look great against our fence if they would survive the heat. Thanks a million.
You’re right Willowick is right down the road, I landscaped a lot of homes in Willowick. Hydrangeas in Florida? Boy, I am not sure. We need to look into that.
Yes, I have seen MANY gorgeous hydrangeas in FL
Thanks Deb, your input helps us all.
Janis Haug says
My Endless Summer bought at Lowe’s is doing well in a neighbor just a block off the beach. Go figure! Have two hugh blooms on a small 24″ plant.
I live in northwest Florida and have the native [oakleaf hydrangea], Fuji Waterfall, one of the most gorgeous lace cap hydrangea I’ve ever seen and another lace cap [name of which I don’t know] and several Nikko Blue hydrangeas. They mostly get morning sun and afternoon shade. Obviously they like our sandy acid soil, which occurs in most of Florida. As long as they get enough water and no midday blazing sun, they will grow anywhere in Florida. By the way, climate change has now put us in zone 9A according to the University of Florida. The rest of Florida is mostly 9B and the very bottom is zone 10.
I have a question do I cut (prune) my hydrangeas to the ground at the end of the season? My plants grow very well but I really don’t get a lot of flowers. Maybe one or two per plant. I hope you can help me
I would not cut it to the ground..ever.Of course I don’t know anything about plants. I leave the stems cutting only the tops. The part I leave seems to support the new growth. I would put peat moss by the roots in the spring and before snow or frost.
I agree with Lucie, don’t cut them to the ground. Right after they finish flowering prune them to the size you like and just let them be. Some of the Macrophylla hydrangeas make flower buds this summer for next years blooms so you are at the mercy of Mother Nature as to how well those buds survive the winter.
Not much you can do, just let them do what they do and enjoy them when they bloom.
I have an Endless Summer for about 6 years and it flowered the first couple of years with beautiful blooms. Since that time I cannot get it to bloom, last year I had 2 flowers. I fertilize it, lime the dirt it gets sun and some shade. I have not pruned it at all. What am I doing wrong?
You might be over caring for it. Plants know what to do. The more we stay out of their business the happier they are. Seriously. Fertilizer could be forcing so much new growth they can’t slow down long enough to bloom.
Daryle Thomas says
Here’s another fine example of “I have no idea of what I am doing … how am I doing?”
Do a soil test!
I was telling the Cheshire Cat the other day, “If you don’t know where you are, it makes it really, really hard to get to where you want to be.”
A soil test will tell you where you are.
I live in Colorado. Would like to purchase some oleanders! Can’t seem to find them here. It is very dry and pretty hot this summer.
Sue, oleanders are sensitive to cold. If it freezes where you are, they won’t live more than one summer. On the other hand, they do well in hot and dry.
I am not sure if you are aware, perhaps you are, however Oleanders are very poisonous. Leaves, flowers etc. Even if you burn them, smoke is also. We had hundreds of them on the California freeways because they are so hardy, however just a word of caution especially if you have children or pets. Lynn
Steven P says
so your rule is — “think of the plant like you think of a kid. If the kid needs a hair cut. By all means, give that kid ( plant ) the pruning and quit getting nervous about it that it’s going to like it, or, love you ever, ever, again.”
Yeah Stephen, that’s pretty much it. Like a bad hair cut a bad pruning will grow out. But in almost all cases a pruning really helps the plant.