Why aren’t my hydrangeas flowering?

Q. Why aren’t my hydrangeas flowering?

A. Different types of hydrangeas prefer to be pruned at different times of year. Knowing which type of hydrangea you have will inform you on the best time to prune them.

Keep in mind that pruning your plant at the “wrong” time will not kill it, it may just remove any chance for flowers that year.

Determine which type of hydrangea you have from the list below and prune it at the suggested time, and you should have flowers during the next growing season!


Bigleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla)Purple blooms flower on a bigleaf hydrangea plant.

  • Will only bloom on wood that is 2 or 3 years old
  • Prune only when necessary, and very minimally
  • Allow them to grow to their natural size
  • Prune in June or July, whenever your shrub has finished flowering
  • To prune, remove half of all the stems


Smooth Hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens)While flowers on a blooming smooth hydrangea plant

  • Prune when dormant, before new growth starts
  • When pruning, cut down to 8 or 12 inches
  • Find any deadwood in shrubs that are more than a few years old by bending the 8-to-12-inch stubs from side to side. Those that are dead will break off.


Panicle Hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculate)A variety of blooms ranging from light orange to pastel pink cover a flowering panicle hydrangea shrub

  • Panicles bloom later in the season (starting in July) and into the fall
  • Prune in late fall to early spring
  • Ensure you prune before new growth starts



Oakleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia)White, cone-like flowers cover a blooming oakleaf hydrangea plant

  • Minimal pruning is best
  • Prune in mid-September to mid-winter, right after new growth has finished and flowers are done
  • Prune to keep its natural shape and to remove old wood



Climbing Hydrangeas (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris)While flowers cover a climbing hydrangea vine

  • Vines that bloom in late spring
  • Prune after bloom (late spring/early summer)
  • Prune to keep the vines from growing “out of bounds”
  • Can be slow to grow and bloom when first planted, prune only dead or damaged branches until the plant is established


Once you determine which hydrangeas you have and prune them at the correct time, you should start to see blooms reappear the following growing season!

If you still have questions about your hydrangeas, please talk to one of our experts at Bay Landscaping’s nursery.

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Answer Provided By ...

Jerry Somalski

Jerry is a Landscape Designer, Project Manager, and the President of Bay Landscaping. He began learning about plants and landscape design as a young boy, hoeing in the family nursery and tagging along with the landscape crews who taught him the tools and methods of the trade. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Central Michigan University, he returned to the family business. Jerry has an enthusiastic yet practical approach to landscape design, focused on choosing the right plants (ones that thrive in the mid-Michigan climate) for the right place to create sustainable and spectacular landscapes. He loves to share what he knows with gardeners throughout Michigan! Learn more about Jerry >>