How To Deadhead Hydrangeas (Easy Guide)

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Meta description: Check out this simple, error-proof guide on how to deadhead hydrangeas to enjoy the benefits of healthier and stunning-looking blooms.

Are you conflicted on how to deadhead hydrangeas correctly? Well, you are on the right track – it is important to deadhead your hydrangeas correctly for the best results. But, even better, we have a solution for you.

With our flawless and simple guide, you can become an expert in deadheading hydrangeas in less than 30 minutes. So, if you want to ultimately transform the aesthetic look of your hydrangeas garden – take a quick peek at this game-changing guide for deadheading hydrangeas.

Why Deadhead Hydrangeas?

Deadheading hydrangeas is an important step to ensure you maintain healthy, fuller, and stunning flowers during the blooming seasons. However, deadheading is unlike pruning.

While pruning focuses on the entire hydrangea shrub, helping shape and maintain its size, deadheading solely focuses on the blooms (flowers) of the plant.

Deadheading refers to the act of removing spent flowers, halting the production of seeds, and instead allowing the plant to focus its energy on boosting root and flower development.

First, as you deadhead the near dying and wilting flowers (flowers turn brown), you keep the plant neat and clean looking. Further, as you remove the dead flowers, you allow more enriched growth of flowers for the next blooming cycle.

Other people choose not to deadhead their hydrangeas. This doesn’t do significant damage or any problems to the plant. But, it will certainly limit the size and magnitude of which your flowers will bloom in the next cycle. In short, deadheading your hydrangeas allows them to bloom to their full potential during the next season.


What To Know Before Deadheading Hydrangeas

You need to have several key things before you kickstart your deadheading process. Here’s what’s important;

The Type of Hydrangeas To Be Pruned

You need to know the type of hydrangeas you want to deadhead as this determines several factors, including the best time to deadhead it.  Some of the common varieties to be found in many households include big leaf hydrangeas, such as mophead or endless summer.

Big leaf Hydrangeas

Big leaf hydrangeas tend to form larger flowers, sometimes growing to the size of a dinner plate. In fact, it’s their bigger, showy size that makes them a popular variety among gardeners as it improves their aesthetics and beauty further.

Generally, big leaf hydrangeas should be deadheaded before July (around late winter or early spring) to reduce faded flowers as the new blooms begin to appear.  It is advised to deadhead the flowers at this time as keeping the very last of the spent blooms from last fall protects the new buds (which will eventually grow into flowers).

The spent flowers act as insulation during the winter season, protecting the buds from frost damage, after all, the stems of the big leaf hydrangeas plant tend to retain moisture which freezes during the winter season, posing the risk of damaging the younger buds.

Further, removing the spent flowers during the fall or winter season may also remove the bids in the process, leaving the plant with none to transform into blooms.

Smooth Hydrangeas

Another popular variety of hydrangeas is smooth hydrangeas. These varieties tend to have smaller blooms in clusters and come in different colors. You are advised to deadhead smooth hydrangeas as soon as you notice faded or wilted flowers begin to turn green.

Lace Cap Hydrangeas

A hardier variety of hydrangeas, lace cap hydrangeas can also be deadheaded anytime before late summer. In fact, you are advised to cut the flowers as soon as you see them starting to fade. Doing so redirects the plant’s efforts from seed production to flowering and root production.

The Right Deadheading Time

While some varieties have slight variations, the best time to deadhead hydrangeas should be around late winter to early spring.

During this time, depending on your plant, you should continue to deadhead the flowers every time you notice them brown or fade. This continuous process encourages the best growth and look.

But, you want to stop deadheading a hydrangea plant around mid to late fall. Leaving the plant unpruned during this time protects it during the winter seasons.

In fact, you can even add mulch to insulate it from frost. Another reason to stop deadheading around mid-fall is that you leave the buds that will bloom next spring in place.

Step-by-Step Guide to Deadheading Hydrangeas

Deadheading hydrangeas refers to removing flowers that have begun to brown, fade, or wilt. However, the process is not as simple as it sounds. After all, removing the flowers the wrong way may risk damaging the entire plant.

Below is a simple step-by-step guide for deadheading hydrangeas;

Tools Needed

  • Clean cloth ( for wiping the shears)
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Shears or pruners (with dual sharpened blades for easy cutting)
  • Large container for discarding the flowers
  • A pair of gardening gloves (to protect your hands)

Step 1: Prep your Tools

Start by cleaning the pruner blades using the cloth (soak the cloth in alcohol first). Using pruners that resemble a pair of scissors makes the job easier and more effective. The double sharp blades make it easier to cut through the stem (up to half its diameter) and cover large spaces (can handle bigger flowers).

On the other hand, cleaning the pruners before you start the deadheading process helps to prevent the spread of any disease or pests from one stem to the other. It also prolongs the durability of the shears.  You will have to clean the blades between each stem cut.

Step 2: Deadhead the Hydrangeas

With the pruners cleaned, one by one, hold a flower/ flower cluster and track your way down toward the stem until you get to the first set of large leaves. Make a clean cut right about the set of leaves to remove the flowers.

Removing the flowers this way allows for the plant to initiate new and healthier growth. Next, wipe clean the pruner blades with the alcohol-soaked cloth and repeat the steps with the unpruned flowers until you are satisfied with the results.

As mentioned above, deadheading your flowers doesn’t mean the plant experiences a rebloom during the season. This process simply prepares the plant for the next blooming cycle to ensure all the flowers bloom and grow fuller. So, to enjoy a fresh and stunning spectacle of full blooms, you have to wait for the next season the following year.

How To Deadhead Hydrangeas In Pots


Deadheading hydrangeas in pots follows the same process as those in a garden. Remember, hydrangeas shrubs grow tall and bushy. So, to maintain a beautiful and healthy look for both the plant and blooms, you want to deadhead the flowers as much as you prune the entire plant.


Still have unanswered questions regarding deadheading hydrangeas? Check out this Section dedicated to commonly asked questions about the topic to give you the answers you are looking for.

Should I Cut The Dead Blooms Off Hydrangeas?

Yes, you should cut the dead blooms off hydrangeas. Contrary to what you may believe, cutting the dead blooms off hydrangeas allows for new and better growth.

Removing the older and dead blooms allows the plant to refocus its energy on growing healthier roots and fuller flowers during the next bloom cycle. But, you have to cut the blooms at the right time to prevent disrupting the new growth.

Also Check: Why Are My Hydrangeas Wilting?

When Should I Cut Dead Blooms Off Hydrangea?

You should cut dead blooms off hydrangeas when you first notice them wilting, browning, drying, or fading. This is usually a subtle sign that the plant is ready for deadheading and pruning.

While different varieties of Hydrangeas may have slightly varying periods, you generally want to do the deadheading towards the end of winter to early spring.

Avoid cutting blooms off hydrangeas during mid-fall to winter as you may remove buds that would’ve grown into flowers in the next season. Additionally, leaving the older blooms during winter offers an extra layer of protection for the buds against frost.

Will Hydrangeas Rebloom If Deadheaded?

Deadheading hydrangeas don’t make them rebloom. This is not the purpose of deadheading these flowers. Typically, hydrangeas only bloom once per season (you may find very few unusual varieties that will rebloom later in the season to produce another set of flowers on new stems).

But, for regular hydrangeas varieties, the purpose of deadheading the flowers is not to promote reblooming. Instead, the process helps to prepare the plant for fuller and more beautiful flowers, growing to their full potential in the next bloom cycle (in another season).

What Happens If I Don’t Deadhead Hydrangeas?

No significant damage or harm will be done to the plant if you don’t deadhead your hydrangeas. However, you may limit the growth of the flowers.

Without going through the deadheading process, hydrangeas will not produce as many flowers and the few produced may not grow as big to their full potential. Nonetheless, even without deadheading, you can still expect the blooms on your plant during the next flowering cycle.

Should I Deadhead Hydrangeas In Summer?

You can continue to deadhead hydrangeas during the summer season. Generally, you are advised to deadhead your flowers towards the end of winter and early spring.

But, deadheading is not an isolated process. So, you can continue to do so throughout the blooming season. After all, the more you prepare your plant, the better the flowers will grow in the next blooming cycle.

But, you want to stop deadheading dead blooms during mid to late fall through winter. If you notice any spent flowers, leave them during this time as removing them may also remove buds intended to produce flowers for the next season. Further, these spent flowers also offer protection to the buds from the frost of winter.

Can I Deadhead Hydrangeas In Winter

You want to avoid deadheading hydrangeas during the winter season. Ideally, you want to stop deadheading during the start to mid-fall to preserve the last spent flowers of the plant. These spent flowers do a great job of adding an extra layer of insulation to the buds underneath and protecting them from cold weather and frost.

Removing the last of these spent flowers may inadvertently remove buds (intended to produce flowers in the next cycle) as well. Instead, removing these last spent flowers towards the end of winter or the start of spring helps to produce healthier buds which, in turn, produce fuller and better-looking flowers.

People who live in extremely cold weather even wait for the winter season to be fully over before removing the spent flowers, eliminating even the slightest risk of the buds being damaged by the remnants of frost and cold weather.

How To Deadhead Mophead Hydrangeas

To deadhead mophead hydrangeas, one by one hold on to the flower and trace your fingers down to the stem until you find the first set of large leaves.

Use dual blade pruners to make a clean cut just above the leaves to remove the flowers. Mophead hydrangeas are a type of big leaf hydrangeas. So, they follow the same standard deadhead process as any other regular big leaf hydrangeas.


Learning how to deadhead hydrangeas is the easiest way to ensure you enjoy beautiful, fuller, and large blooms that grow to their full potential in every flowering cycle.

After all, it’s this simple cutting process that helps to promote healthier growth. Nonetheless, knowing just where to cut the flowers is not enough in this case.

You have to equip yourself with other key principles that come with cutting dead hydrangeas flowers. You have to also know the exact hydrangeas variety you are dealing with. Additionally, you want to know when the right time is to deadhead hydrangeas and when to avoid doing so.

Mike Smith

I love Gardening and this is my site. Here you will find some really useful plant-related tips and tricks.