How to trim a woody hydrangea
I have a large hydrangea bush in front of my house - it looks terrible! It only blooms on the top most branches - the rest is very woody and dead-looking. It is in shade for a good part of the day and then receives late afternoon sun. Can I cut it way down and have it start over? Am I supposed to prune the dead wood each year? I am a struggling but determined new gardner!
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest


Thanks for writing! You can definitely prune out any dead shoots every year.

As far as the shoots that aren't dead -- you can cut them back considerably --- to 6 or 8 inches tall for example. If you do that, however, it probably won't bloom for two or three years.

You can also go about it more gradually and cut back 1/3 of the stems every year. That way you'll still be able to enjoy its blooms and in three years it'll be more tidy and compact.

By the way: The best time to prune back most blue- and pink-flowering hydrangeas is in July, right after they finish blooming. You can prune most of the white types in winter or early spring.

Good luck! I hope this helps!
---Justin, Senior Garden Editor,

Answered by BHGgardenEditors