My Hydrangea-less Summer and When to Prune

When to Prune Hydrangeas so they bloom!

Big, fat tears rolled down my cheeks when I stepped outside a couple of months ago only to be met with a frightening sight.

No, it wasn’t Sasquatch or Freddy Krueger (although this did give me nightmares).

It was so much more horrifying.

Learn the best times to prune hydrangeas or risk getting no blooms

Oh my hubby certainly meant well when he let someone give our yard a spring clean up.

The aftermath of his well meaning decision was that my beautiful hydrangeas had been clipped to within an inch of their lives and all that remained were a few brown branches sadly wondering what they had done to deserve such a cruel fate.

They have gorgeous, shiny leaves but not a flower to behold (I guess I won’t be needing my simple hydrangea drying method this year)!

If your hydrangea are a bunch of sad brown sticks, read these tips for fixing winter kill hydrangeas.

Avoid the #1 mistake when pruning hydrangeas or you will have no blooms!

When to Prune Hydrangeas so They Bloom

There are three types of hydrangeas …

Old Wood Hydrangeas

Mophead (what I have) and Lacecap Hydrangeas (typically pink, blue or purple) bloom on old wood meaning that their buds start to form in the fall for next summer’s blooms.  If they are trimmed in the fall, winter or spring, all of those precious buds will be removed and you summer hydrangeas will be flowerless.  Only prune in June or July!  Only prune if the shrubs are too large for their space.

Don’t be afraid to remove dead stems or flowers anytime of the year – this should be done annually and will not affect regrowth.

I can’t do without my favorite fertilizer to get gorgeous hydrangea blooms!

New Wood Hydrangeas

PeeGees and Annabelle hydrangeas (usually white) bloom on new wood meaning they can be pruned in the fall and will bloom on new stems in summer.

Everbloomer Hydrangeas

There is a group of mopheads that will bloom whenever they are pruned – one common type is called Endless Summer.  These are the exception, not the rule, so make sure you know which type you have before cutting.

Read this post if your hydrangeas aren’t blooming or are nothing but sad brown sticks – Why Aren’t My Hydrangeas Blooming – and How to Fix It!

 Learn about the 3 types of hydrangeas and when you should prune them

I still haven’t fully recovered – it’s a process.

Oh, and if that landscape guy ever sets foot in my yard again be better beware of the wrath of the crazy hydrangea-less lady.

More Gardening Tips

Why Aren’t My Hydrangeas Blooming – and How to Fix It!

Why Aren't My Hydrangeas Blooming - and How to Fix Them!

#1 Succulent Planting Tip

Easiest Succulents Planting Tips

peony growing and care tips and tricks to have them blooming like crazy!

Peony Planting Tips

Want Eclectically Vintage delivered right to your inbox?
Just enter your e-mail in the box below!

Enter your email address:
Delivered by FeedBurner


  1. I feel your pain. How about this–normally my hydrangea set buds and then drop leaves for winter. This past winter was no different. Then in spring the “dead wood” usually sprouts leaves mid june followed by huge beautiful flowers! This year–the dead wood was really “dead” and all new growth started from the ground at root level. Not one leaf on not one branch on over 8 mature plants. so, i waited–all of june and most of july and finally gave up–not a single flower on the 6 giant plants in the front and two in the back. I don’t get it! Lush healthy looking plants too!

    • Mary Lou says:

      Me too! :( I have a beautiful leafy plant but no flowers but its sister plant in a different location has gorgeous blooms. I think the many days of below zero temperatures took their toll. So sad…

  2. I only had six blooms this year and maybe now I know why. I think I cut mine back late last August. Oops!

  3. I’m right there with you…..not one bloom this summer :(

  4. This happened to me a few June’s ago when we had someone mow our backyard & he completely obliterated my strawberry patch! Gone! No more! Ugh :( It was the last summer at that house & I never got to enjoy what I planted. Hope the new tenants enjoyed what I started lol. Hope yours come back twice as nice next year!!! :)

  5. Cheapdiva says:

    Due to our extremely long, cold, harsh winter, I lost half my roses and 2 of my bushes are only sporting leaves, no buds. I feel your pain.

  6. My very large hydrangea is not blooming as well as it has in the past…I would have hundreds and hundred of gorgeous blooms…this year, not much…and we did not prune it…yet my small hydrangeas are doing a bit better..We are thinking that it was the horrible winter we had, then it became very warm…and then we had snow…I miss them too!…thanks for the tips and hope that landscape guy does not cross your path!..

  7. I have no blooms on my hydrangeas this year, Endless Summer, and I’m blaming it on the harsh winter. That seems to be the consensus when I did a post about it. Lots of people in the same boat…but it’s still a huge disappointment!!
    Mary Alice

  8. Laura Strack says:

    Oh wow Kelly, that bites! I’m sure you gave him the what what! He probably ran out and bought “Hydrangeas for Dummies”!! Hint Hint Yard Man. Are you reading this?!!

  9. Mary Evelyn Denton says:

    I totally feel your pain!! We had an extremely harsh winter in Tennessee and none of our hydrangeas have bloomed at all!! The plants are very green and healthy but no blooms! Soooo sad!!!

  10. Oh, how I feel for you! Mine was a similar story this year except with caladiums! Without knowing until it was too late, my husband moved my very happy 650 bulbs from the cool garage closet to the outside shed and I did not realize they had “froze to death” until AFTER the mushy bulbs were planted anyway by our yard man. I have had a bare yard all summer and I am currently being treated for caladium-less stress! Come on next year as now I have a greater insight about watching over my bulbs until they can be planted! He said he needed the space in the garage for his stuff! :-)

  11. I hear you but we didn’t prune. Our guy said the bad winter destroyed buds. Actually, no one’s hydrangeas around here are blooming. So sad to see no blossoms in summer!

  12. Yes, Kelly, “landscapers” are notorious for whacking back mop head hydrangeas, regardless of which cultivar they may be. Take heart in that this year most macrophyllas did not perform as expected; too harsh of a winter. But, you actually can prune the old wood blooming mop heads in the spring. It’s a matter of timing (late April is ideal), and being able to differentiate a leaf bud from a flowering bud. As long as you prune just above a flowering bud (slightly more round looking than the slim, pointed leaf bud), you’re fine.

  13. I had no blooms and I didn’t prune. We had a very harsh winter in NC and all I have are lush shrubs.

  14. Sileandal says:

    The deer mowed mine down this spring. Thought they didn’t like hydrangeas!

  15. Margaret says:

    Hydrangeas are just a mystery, I think and they bloom when they feel like it :) . I have two bushes in my front yard. I have pruned them, not pruned them; fertilized and not fertilized; some years they bloom, some they don’t. I can’t for the life of me figure it out. Last year, I pruned one, but not the other and guess what – neither one has a bloom on it – go figure!

  16. The good or bad news is that you may not have had any anyway. The heavy winter snow killed off a lot of old wood on plants and so a lot of wood had to be removed this spring. My mopheads have actually started to bloom a little, but are certainly not prolific. My Endless Summer is bloomless. My neighbors Endless Summer are FILLED with beautiful blooms like they have never had before.

  17. No, Kelly! this is terrible. at least your bushes appear strong and undamaged so you should hopefully have lots of lovely flowers next year. hydrangeas are notoriously tough and forgiving, they will reward you next year I’m

  18. Oh, I laughed and cried as I read your post. I tried and tried in TX to grow hydrangeas, but failed – just too hot in Austin. But after moving to NC, I was determined to grow the beautiful flowers that seem to grow like weeds here in everyone’s yard. After babying the three new plants along our garage wall last summer, they made it through an extremely overly wet summer. Then come about November, and my well meaning hubby, cut them to the ground. I was horrified and asked him nicely to please let me research when the best time is to prune my precious new plants before doing so. Alas, I have three gorgeous, green, healthy plants and not one bloom this summer…. I asked the woman at the nursery and she told exactly what you’ve shared in your post. “NEVER prune the old wood”, she said. Now we are moving back to TX and I’m sure the new owners of our lovely NC home will enjoy the blooms I will likely never see – next summer. Maybe I’ll give it another try in Texas. I read your post to my hubby and we both had a good chuckle. Well, at least I can *almost *laugh about it now!

  19. I’m so sorry about your hydrangeas! I would be broken hearted as well! If there was any way I could send you some of my dried blooms, I would! I’m just afraid that they would be a pile of crumbs by the time they got to you. But, if you happen to be near Murfreesboro, TN…I’ll have some waiting for you! :) Life to the full! Melissa

  20. Oh noooooooo, I would’ve “screamed!” Can you just hot glue some “faux” ones onto the leaves? LOL … kidding. I hope that they resurrect soon!

  21. Same thing happened to us this year. We have several big old hydrangea bushes that were GORGEOUS last year but this year we only had 2 blooms. We’re in Atlanta. We pruned the dead flowers back later than we should have but were careful to only get the flowers & still only had 1 or 2 blooms this year. I was very disappointed.

  22. So sorry to hear about your hydrangeas, Kelly. We had such a harsh winter here in Nebraska that we lost a Blacklace Elderberry tree, a dwarf blue spruce, one hibiscus and a cedar tree. Two of my six Endless Summer hydrangeas nearly died. Each has about a dozen small leaves sprouting at the base–finally. The remainder of the Endless Summers are big, thick, full and TOTALLY DEVOID OF BLOOMS! Arrrrrrgh! I’ve never seen anything like it. My Annabelle and Tardiva hydrangeas have blooms, but not nearly as many as usual. Just means our blooms will be even more special next year.

  23. I love Hydrangeas. I bought one a couple of years ago and at the end of the first season I chopped it back to stubs. Mistake! A client of mine who is an avid gardener told me to just leave it be next year and I did, I am happy to say it is thriving! The flowers are such pretty assets to a garden!

  24. I have never had blooms on my hydranga’s which I have had for over 5 years. Then I bought a blooming hydrangia and that also did not bloom the following year. I do not trim the plants. I even moved one of the plants from a east location to a west location. Help, what do I need to do.

  25. Judi James says:

    Sorry to heat about your flowerless hydrangeas. I live in Alberta, Canada and we also had a very bad winter/spring. I lost my little limelight hydrangea as well as two clematis and a barberry. It was debatable whether or not my other hydrangea would bloom but I am happy to report that is has the best blooms ever. Maybe feeding it coffee grounds and banana peels worked!

  26. I tried to bring my hydrangea flowers in to start drying them in water but there were little green bugs that kept crawling out of them so I had to take them back outside. What do you do to eliminate the bugs before you bring them in?

  27. Beautiful lg bush leaves here no Flowers… Should I cut the bush back now or leave it…. Im sure i trimmed it to small last year… But the bush itself is way to big for the area.. Can the leaves be trimmed and wehn exactly ?? Thank you

    • Hi Deborah – it depends on where you live and exactly what type of hydrangea you have. If you have an old wood hydrangea (see the post), do not cut it now. This should only be done in June/July.

      • Hello again.. I Live in Boston,Ma My bush was a Beautiful Purple blue color for 1 or 2 yrs… NOt a single bllom this year .. I have 2 bushes one in the sun is Huge!! The other stays very small (too small 0 shaded area.. Do you suggest I move it and when is a good time.. Love the flowers when they bllom and thank you.. Also would feeding it something help ??

  28. Trina Ambrose says:

    I’m still getting over the fact that there are other hydrangea fans out there………..I thought I was the only one. I’m desperately trying to work out how I can incorporate more hydrangea’s into my garden in a mediterranean climate. I live in central Victoria in Australia – our temperature today is 41 degrees celsius (106 fahrenheit) -tomorrow we’re expecting 45! At this point, I have two planted on the south side of our house and they are going quite well – I will probably plant more in this location and just enjoy……

  29. I feel your pain. I think my lawn guy cut mine down 2 years ago and this past summer – not a bloom in sight. I even try not to trim them on purpose! We’ll have to see what happens this spring/summer. I was also told that because of the freezing temperatures (here in NY) they might have been damaged. BUT it never happened before!!

  30. Sherry W. says:

    We just bought our new home and what attracted me most was the big beautiful hydrangea next to the deck with georgous huge pink blooms. Before moving in, the previous owner asked if she could dig it up. What? Did she just say that? Of course I said no. So she just chopped off all the flowers. Ugghh. So, I just patiently waited for the next year. Once winter hit, my husband shoveled off the deck and guess where the snow went? Yes! Right on the bush. Broke off alot of branches. Summer came and went with nice healthy leaves but not one flower. Looking forward to this summer. I am hoping I get to see the big blooms that helped me pick out my new home. As a bonus, one branch got buried under the mulch and I found a whole new bush growing next to the first one. Nice!

  31. Debbie Dixon says:

    I dont know what kind of hydrangea I have. Is there any way of telling what kind I have? Do they have different types of leaves? I love hydrangea but havent had any luck producing flowers for years. This year I havent proned anything. Can someone help please. Thanks

  32. I’m not sure what hydrangeas I have there white but every year I get less branches and bubs, I’VE Pruned and I’ve not pruned still nothing any suggestions?

  33. Tracey Brogan says:

    When we moved to our house, we have 3 in the backyard up against the sunroom. I was redoing all the gardens and they were huge and spaced poorly. So I ripped them out, split them and replanted. Every year since, the plants are big, beautiful and healthy looking, but NO blooms or 2-3 blooms at best. They are the “old fashion” type that grow off the old wood. I don’t prune them at all.

    Any advice?

    • Tracey Brogan says:

      Ps. Forgot, I replanted 3 back were they were, just spaced better. The other 3 went on the slightly sunnier side of the sunroom. So same flower bed, just a different side for those 3.

    • Not sure – maybe the transplant did it or you had late spring freezes that froze the new buds. Maybe try some fertilizer (ask your garden center what is best). Hope they bloom soon!

  34. Good and bad news. First the bad for you all not me, I have lots of different hydrangeas in my yard in Seattle, Wa and 100″s of blooms, sorry they are gorgeous. Now the good news a few years back, it was really cold for here (Seattle) plus after all the Seattle rain they looked hideous, so I pruned them way back, not one bloom on about 15 bushes for 1 year.. Great news every year since I have had big, beautiful flowers. So glad. I learned it takes a year of waiting to get great results.

  35. I just pruned mine just last Sunday. Because of the blooms of the hydrangeas were dead and the leaves looked like something has been eating on them. So I cleaned up what needed to be cleaned up on them. But we have had such a very wet spring and summer. So did I mess up on mine for pruning them now and when will the blooms come back? These are my first hydrangeas.

  36. I live in Tennessee. How far down should I cut?

  37. I live in Tennessee. How far down should I cut ?

  38. Catherine Ellsworth says:

    Thank you Kelly.
    I thought your article was only about the type of Hydrangeas that you have. I then read it and it told me everything I did wrong. I appreciate this so much.

  39. I have a hydrangea. It never blooms it gets green leaves & that’s it

  40. My MIL is a plant geneticist and told me it could take 3-5 years to get blooms if they are all cut! Mine finally bloomed this summer after 4 years of no flowers…then the deer ate them :(

  41. What will happen if I didn’t get mine pruned in the fall? Will it still bloom?

  42. Christine says:

    Found you a while back on Pinterest. I read this with passing interest, because I have two hydrangeas, but don’t pay them much mind.
    After a HARD April frost, where all my Japanese maples, hosta and even huechera had to restart their spring growth, I noticed my two hydrangea had lots of brown as you described. Actually, I have 3.
    One, ‘Limelight’ grows stuff on dead branches.
    The ‘Lady in Red’ and ‘Twist and Shout’ are putting out basel growth, but not on dead wood.
    I guess I need to go look them up to see how to best care for them. I picked the latter two for their red elements. The ‘Limelight’ was a throw-away from a nursery. It’s rewarded me with beautiful, lemon yellow foliage for several years now. I have no idea if it even has flowers!
    Thanks for the info!

    (I”ve suffered from unasked for “help” before, too. I never, ever want favors.)

  43. Irene Moore says:

    I live in Virginia beach, Va and I have the most beautiful blooms ever this year. Hydrangeas that is.
    However my iris didn’t bloom at all well. Any comments?

  44. Irene Moore says:

    I live in Virginia beach, Va and I have the most beautiful blooms ever this year. Hydrangeas that is.
    However my iris didn’t bloom at all well. Any comments?

    • Sorry Irene – I don’t have any iris so I can’t help you there but I’m glad your hydrangeas look amazing!

      • My hydrangeas are in the shade. The blooms don’t start till late summer. I have blooms into November.
        The plant has gotten quite large. I think last year I trimmed in the fall. Did I hurt the blooms.
        The plant is very large. This is now August so I guess I should wait till next year to trim. I only see
        one or two blossom. I love my hydrangeas. I also have the white and it is in he sun and has lots of

        • Sounds like you might have sun loving Limelight Hydrangeas. They bloom in August through the fall with white blooms that turn a beautiful shade of rusty pink. Not sure about the ones you have in the sun – try taking a pic and bringing it to your garden center.

  45. My beautiful Hydrangeas have dark green leaves as big as elephant ears! Not one flower. The first year we moved here from Florida, we cut the wood way down in the Fall. The next year, no blooms so we decided to just leave them alone. This year giants with gigantic leaves, very healthy looking, not a flower among them. We have at least 30 bushes! The former owner loved flowers. Sadly I have a very brown thumb!

  46. I have no blooms on my hydrangeas this year either AND I never pruned them. Not sure what’s up with that. I have tons of leaves and all these ugly sticks shooting straight out of them but not one flower. I’m completely confused.


  1. […] Not anymore – I’ve finally fulfilled my peony dream (similar to my dream of growing amazing hydrangeas). […]

  2. […] – Limelights bloom on new wood (see my post on When to Prune Hydrangeas so they Bloom) which means you can cut them and they will still bloom that season but it’s best to prune in […]

  3. […] Don’t miss my hydrangea growing tips HERE. […]

  4. […] When to prune hydrangeas […]

  5. […] summers (thanks to the “pro” that mutilated my hydrangeas one spring (read my When to Prune Hydrangeas so they Bloom post so this doesn’t happen to you), I could feel it in my bones that this was gonna be my […]

Speak Your Mind