Hydrangeas need deadheading at ‘best time’ for them to flower properly next year

When gardeners deadhead hydrangeas, they aren’t harming the plants at all. Removing the spent blooms is highly beneficial as it triggers flowering shrubs to stop producing seeds and instead put their energy toward root and foliage development. 

This makes plants stronger and healthier, so by deadheading, gardeners will be doing your hydrangeas a favour.

After spotting that their hydrangeas had started to turn brown, one gardener took the Loving Your Garden Facebook page to ask when they should deadhead the plant.

Jessica Bouziane wrote: “Let’s talk hydrangeas. Planted a lovely hydrangea in my front garden, it’s only small and had an area to plant one. 

“I use ericaceous soil and have feed for it. The flowers are browning, however, the leaves are lovely and green. 

“Please tell me the best time to deadhead as I don’t want to kill it and ideally I’d quite like it to eventually take over the front garden and turn into some sort of monster.”

Deadheading is an easy gardening task – and one many people enjoy. All gardeners need to deadhead hydrangeas is a pair of garden gloves, pruners and a container to hold the faded flowers.

Before starting, wipe the pruner blades clean with a cloth soaked in denatured alcohol. Keep the cloth handy, as it’ll be needed to wipe the pruners between snips to avoid spreading disease through the shrub.

To deadhead hydrangeas, simply take each spent bloom and follow its stem down to the next set of large leaves – that’s where the cut needs to be made.

But, when should gardeners be deadheading their hydrangeas? In response to Jessica’s post, group members claimed that deadheading hydrangeas depends on the variety.

Cathrine Hughes explained: “If it is a mophead with round flowerheads on it, leave them on it till spring then prune them off after the last frost. But if it’s a lacecap hydrangea with the flatter flowerheads you can prune them off as soon as they die.”

Jessica replied saying that her hydrangeas were of the mophead variety. It is advised to leave spent blooms on this type of hydrangea until spring as they are less hardy than lace cap hydrangeas. 

The spent blooms provide frost protection for the growth buds that will then become next year’s blooms.

Other gardeners agreed that these plants need deadheading in spring. Angela Whiley said: “Wait until spring and you’ll get big vibrant blooms next year. The flowers look good in their dried form over winter. 

“Snip off after the worst of the frosts, just above new growth. The old flowers give some protection during winter.”

Irene Foy commented: “Yes like Angela said the old flowers protect new buds so the best time is to wait till spring.”

Janet Howden wrote: “Deadhead during the flowering season, then stop in when it’s autumn.”

Melanie Livingstone argued: “You can deadhead it now if it has gone crispy early. Depending on the variety it may make more flowers before the Winter. Don’t deadhead after August.”

One gardener claimed to have made the mistake of deadheading their hydrangeas at the wrong time, which resulted in her shrub producing “no flowers”.

Julie Arnott explained: “I’m so annoyed with myself, I’ve got two hydrangeas in the back garden, one in front, all planted last year and I’ve only lately learned that you don’t deadhead till spring. Now they’re big and bushy but grow no flowers, lesson learned, next year fingers crossed they’ll be ok.”

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