Should you prune your Endless Summer Hydrangea?

By now I imagine most hydrangea lovers are familiar with ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangeas, more officially named Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Bailmer’.  They are the blue or pink mophead, large leafed hydrangeas that are “ever blooming”.  The main difference between this hydrangea from other mophead hydrangeas is that the ‘Endless Summer’ blooms not only on old wood but on new wood.  This makes for much different (and easier) pruning needs!  Alas! 

The question I seem to be consistently asked is when and how to prune hydrangeas.  The answer is… “It depends…”   Frustrating, I know.  But, really it depends on several factors.  First, what type of hydrangea do you have and if it is of the large leafed variety, is it an Endless Summer?  

For the sake of brevity, I will focus on the pruning of Endless Summer hydrangeas.  However, if I receive requests for techniques on pruning other hydrangea types, I will be happy to answer!

Now, for advice on Endless Summer hydrangea pruning…  In actuality, these plants are extremely low maintenance compared to other hydrangea types.  There isn’t really a “bad” time to prune these.  As a matter of fact, young ones don’t need any pruning at all.  It’s really best to leave them alone and let them grow to maturity. 

Deadheading, whether a younger or older plant, is always a good idea and practice because it encourages new blooms.  When deadheading, use sharp, clean hand pruners to cut off the dead flowers.  Cut the stem just above the first set of leaves beneath the spent flower at approximately a thirty degree angle.  Use this technique throughout the growing season to maximize the number of blooms on your Endless Summer hydrangea.

When pruning your Endless Summer hydrangea in the Spring, do not prune the “dead” stems down to the ground until all the new leaves have pushed through and are totally enlarged to full size. 

In the Fall, I like to leave my spent blooms on the plant to give some Winter interest to the landscape.  They also give the added benefit of insulating the new buds for next season.  However, once Spring arrives, make sure to cut down these blooms before the new growth starts.

Other than deadheading of your Endless Summer, there really should be very little to prune of your plant unless you encounter a dead limb here or there which can and should be pruned at any time.  This plant is one of my favorite landscape plants to use for my clients because of its easy care and ever blooming qualities. 

One last thing to remember, if you want your hydrangea flowers pink, you want your soil more alkaline, but if you want blue flowers, you want your soil more acid!

13 Comments


  1. Dec 8, 2010
    8:44 pm

    Jeana

    Thanks for this information! Written in an easy to understand way!


  2. May 31, 2013
    12:42 pm

    Doris

    I have several endless summers. My questions is: all but one grow to a regular size—one is very large (at least three times the side of the others) with few blooms. Could this not be an endless summer? They were all purchased at the same time and place.


    • Jun 26, 2013
      2:03 pm

      admin

      Hi Doris,

      Honestly it’s hard to ascertain whether that plant is an endless summer or not without seeing a picture. Nurseries do sometimes incorrectly label cultivars of plants. However, sometimes plants grow at different rates based on many factors including the soil quality in the location it’s planted and light/water exposure. Please feel free to email me directly with any further questions.

      Best,
      Nikki


  3. Jun 26, 2013
    4:55 am

    A.Robinson

    My Endless Summer hydrangea has grown too large and has now been battered by unseasonal rain. How much should I cut it back . Thank You..


    • Jun 26, 2013
      1:59 pm

      admin

      Hi! You may prune the hydrangea down as much as you want really. But best to prune it before August so as not to risk the blooming for next season. Some people feel you can prune hydrangea into August without affecting next year’s bloom but it can be risky. Hope this helps!


  4. Jul 1, 2013
    2:25 am

    Bonnie

    If I cut my endless summer hydrangea to use in arrangements and cut them several inches down will this keep them from continuing to bloom. Bonnie


    • Jul 5, 2013
      4:02 pm

      admin

      Hi Bonnie,

      No it will not! Enjoy your hydrangea and cut away! They are meant to be enjoyed inside and outside. Pruning actually encourages more blooms.

      Happy pruning!
      Nikki


  5. Jul 1, 2013
    3:24 am

    Jenmac

    I’m having the same issue as A.Robinson. I’ve tied them upright to try to salvage the beautiful blooms for the next few weeks. I want to prevent them from getting so tall next year (6 ft tall + 10 in rain = blocked walkways). Can I give them a hefty trimming with the expectation that they won’t get so tall next year?


    • Jul 5, 2013
      4:01 pm

      admin

      Hi! You can give them a significant pruning but unfortunately they will revert back to their original size. I would say just keep on top of them often to keep their size in check.

      Best,
      Nikki


  6. Jul 13, 2013
    7:28 pm

    Megan

    Thank you for this information. I recently (3 weeks ago) purchased two endless summer hydrangeas. They are both in the same area- partial shade. One of the hydrangeas had several blooms when we planted; the other did not. In the past few weeks the one without blooms has grown quite large and is developing some blooms. The original bloomer has continued to bloom but has remained the same size. I believe we are watering enough. Why hasn’t the original bloomer grown?


    • Jul 22, 2013
      5:28 pm

      admin

      Hi Megan,

      This is a difficult question for me to answer without being able to see the plants, where you’ve planted them and what type of soil they’re in. The soil composition and/or sunlight exposure could be slightly different in each spot making the plants grow at different rates. Try fertilizing the one that isn’t growing and/or add some compost to that area and see if that helps. Let me know what happens!

      Best,
      Nikki


  7. Jul 17, 2013
    7:20 pm

    marjorie sowell

    why are my hydrangeas wilting. We have an excess amount of rain


    • Jul 22, 2013
      5:25 pm

      admin

      Hi Marjorie,

      The heat wave dried the soil out very quickly. If you have a well drained soil (sandy) then the water drains through the soil even faster. I always tell my clients that hydrangeas are a great way to tell if your plants need more water if they’re wilting. You can keep the soil moister longer if you increase organic content of the soil (ie. adding compost) and also by adding mulch. Hope this helps!

      Best,
      Nikki

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