How to Get Mad Blooms from Your Hydrangeas

The key to mad blooms from your hydrangeas: prune them while they’re young. With all types of hydrangeas, it pays dividends to build a strong bushy plant, even before you worry about flowers. The first few years after planting are the most important for pruning hydrangeas because you’ll be building the foundation for years to come.


The key to a hydrangea bush full of blooms in wise pruning in the first year of planting. Here is a stunning Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hortensia’ in its glory!

When the plant is young, it is best to prune or pinch it in order to build a full-bodied, well-branched specimen. Every time you cut off the growing tip of a plant, you get twice as many branches and thus, in the long-run, more flowers.

How to Pinch a Hydrangea

If the plant is leggy when you purchase it, shear it back hard by one-third to one-half its original size. Once it puts on an inch or two of growth, pinch the branch tips to remove just the growing tip. This tip controls branching. Once it is removed, the buds below it will turn into two or more stems. Once these new branches grow an inch or two, pinch the tip out again.

You can repeat this throughout the first growing season as you are tending your garden. Although you may sacrifice one year of bloom, this technique results in a well-branched, full-bodied plant that will have more flowers in subsequent years.

The second season in the ground, repeat the pinching practice or lightly shear the plant once, then cease pruning and pinching to allow the flower buds to set.


Sacrifice the first year’s bloom by pruning and pinching to encourage full branching. In the second season, you’ll only pinch back early then let the bush bloom.

Wondering if you can plant up the hydrangeas you received from the florist? Here’s what you need to know.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2011 issue of Horticulture magazine which you can download here.

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