Pruning Hydrangea paniculata: when & how


I studied agricultural sciences and have always preferred spending my free time outdoors. Apart for my enthusiasm for gardening and agriculture, I love taking photos and rarely leave home without my camera. Whether it is landscapes, blossoms or wildlife, I can usually find a perfect shot that captures the beauty of nature.

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How do you prune panicle hydrangeas? Is it better to cut them back in autumn or in spring? Our tips for the perfect pruning Hydrangea paniculata.

pinky winky hydrangeas in bloom
Annual pruning of panicle hydrangeas promotes flowering [Photo: ingehogenbijl/]

Panicled hydrangeas particularly delight because of their large, dense flower panicles, which appear in different colours depending on the variety and also change over the course of the flowering period. To maintain the flowering and compact growth of your panicle hydrangea, annual pruning is advisable. However, for those who do not have enough time or for whom the panicle hydrangea is located, for example, in a flower hedge, please note: Hydrangea paniculata grows excellently even without pruning. Without pruning, Hydrangea paniculata will grow larger and larger over the years and become more bare inside the shrub. Thus, it will eventually bear fewer flowers in relation to the mass of leaves.

If you would like to get an overview of panicle hydrangeas first, we recommend our special article on panicle hydrangeas. There you will learn everything you need to know about planting, caring for and propagating the pretty hydrangea and get to know the best varieties.

When should you prune panicle hydrangeas?

Panicled hydrangeas are among the late-flowering hydrangea species. Their withered panicle flowers make a pretty decoration in the garden in winter. In the spring, the rods can then be cut back if necessary. The right time to prune the panicle hydrangea is between mid-March and April, after the last heavy frosts and before the plant creates new shoots. In addition to pruning, spring fertilisation has a supporting effect, especially for potted hydrangeas, and helps the Hydrangea paniculata to produce vigorous new shoots and many flowers. For example, our Plantura Hydrangea Food with long-term effects reliably supplies the hydrangea with all important nutrients.

panicle hydrangea flowers withering
The withering flower panicles still look very decorative in winter [Photo: Dreamnord/]

Pruning Hydrangea paniculata: how to proceed

There are several ways to prune panicle hydrangeas. As a general rule, do not be too cautious. The more you cut back the panicle hydrangea, the more vigorous the new shoots will be and in the summer it will thank you with much larger flower panicles. About one third of the crown volume can be shortened per pruning. Hydrangea paniculata, unlike the Hydrangea macrophylla for example, forms flower buds only after budding on the “new”, that is, this year’s wood. Therefore, when pruning, you do not have to worry about removing or damaging flower buds.

If you want to keep the classic shrub shape, you should cut all the shoots to a stub about 15 centimetres tall with about 2 “sleeping eyes”. This refers to dormant bud plants from which new shoots sprout in the spring. You will recognise them as raised dots under the bark. In addition, diseased and dead wood should be completely removed.

garden shears pruning hydrangea paniculata
In spring, the branches should be cut back to a height of about 15 cm [Photo: S.O.E/]

If you want to prune your young panicle hydrangea into a tall trunk, you need to do the following pruning in the first year: first, look closely at the plant and select one of the middle shoots, which will later form the trunk. When doing this, opt for a strong, preferably straight-grown shoot. All shoots growing on the sides must be removed. Cut them back completely, that is, to the base. The shoot left standing should be stabilised with the help of a wooden stick It should also be trimmed down to 2 to 3 pairs of sleeping eyes. In subsequent years, each spring remove the shoots that are starting to grow in the lower part of the main trunk, and cut back the shoots of the crown to about 10 centimetres in length.

hydrangea with a tall trunk
It is also possible to cultivate a panicle hydrangea to have a tall trunk [Photo: Edita Medeina/]

Are you interested in planting and caring for Hydrangea paniculata and want to find out how to easily propagate your favourite panicle hydrangea? Then continue reading our special article on panicle hydrangeas!

Hydrangea Food, 1.5kg
Hydrangea Food, 1.5kg
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  • For beautiful hydrangeas with lush blooms in pots & flower beds
  • Prevents common deficiency symptoms & supports healthy plant growth
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