Should I Cut Off Brown Hydrangea Blooms?

Gardening with Hydrangeas is a gift that keeps giving—as the perennial flowers come back every year.

They require some tending, so keep reading to learn more about cutting brown hydrangea blooms.

4.5 in. Qt. Quick Fire 'Fab' Hydrangea, Live Plant, White and Pink Flowers

Brown Hydrangeas

  • Should you cut hydrangea blooms? Yes and no. Hydrangeas, in ideal conditions, don’t require frequent pruning.
  • However, there are certain times you should prune and tend to your hydrangeas. Brown blooms are typical at the start of winter but could also indicate a problem.
  • In the summer, when the heat is too great, and hydrangeas aren’t receiving enough water, they can brown. If winter is coming, they will naturally begin to wilt. If they are exposed to pests or fungus, they may also start to turn a brown color.
  • There is an appropriate time to prune hydrangeas, and this should be followed closely. Any other abnormalities should be identified and treated as such to avoid over-pruning.
  • Cutting brown hydrangeas is not a simple yes or no answer. We will cover all the aspects—so you know how to care for your hydrangeas and don’t have to worry.

Also Read: Hydrangea Bush Not Flowering [Causes & What to do]

In the Summer

  • If you notice brown flowers in the summer before you decide to cut them off, first identify if they are getting enough water or too much heat.
  • Underwatering will most definitely cause flowers to brown. Don’t fret, though, because underwatering over a short period can be corrected. By watering and keeping a close eye, the beautiful color can return.
  • Ensure you do not overwater, though, once the color has returned.
  • In the high heat of the summer, they may also require extra watering to avoid turning brown. Pay close attention during the hottest points of the summer to ensure your hydrangeas are getting plenty of water.
  • Additionally, if they are receiving too much direct heat, they may also begin to brown and be in desperate need of some shade. That is something to keep in mind when planting hydrangeas for the first time.
  • So before cutting, eliminate underwatering or heat as a problem to avoid trimming the flower as it could still be healthy.

Brown Hydrangeas in Winter

  • Hydrangeas do not require pruning in the winter. You should also try not to prune them in the winter to avoid shock to the flower.
  • If you attempt to cut or prune in the winter, it can be challenging to identify old growth from newer growth. Then the hydrangea may struggle to come back in the spring.
  • Hydrangea flowers will turn brown as the winter rolls in, and they do not have to be pruned during the cold months. A little extra care in the fall can avoid any issues in the winter.

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Care in the Fall

  • There are a few things to do before winter to ensure hydrangeas return to full bloom in the spring.
  • Make sure they get plenty of water before the winter comes in – this helps to ensure they have enough water to absorb and survive the winter.
  • To help prevent freezing, adding mulch atop the soil can help insulate and avoid frost damage. A good mulch is straw or wood chips. While this should be done in the spring, it won’t hurt as a measure in the fall.

Check out: Why Is My Hydrangea Not Growing? [8 Reasons & How to Care]

Care in the Spring

  • As spring arrives, your hydrangeas begin to come back to life. Spring is the ideal time to start taking care of hydrangeas.
  • Spring is a crucial time to prune any old foliage that did not survive the winter. You can identify old wood in the plant and remove it while leaving the new wood intact.
  • You may also remove any flower heads.
  • To ensure you don’t cut new growth, distinguish old from new wood and old flower heads from new flower heads. Old wood will appear and feel dry. Old flower heads will have little to no growth, and leaves, and lack color.
  1. Another tip for identifying new growth is you may notice baby flower buds. That often indicates a potential new bloom.
  • Removing the dead growth will leave plenty of room for your hydrangea to blossom. Spring is the best time to introduce any fertilizer, fresh soil, or mulch on top of the soil.
  • Additionally, if you are struggling to determine whether to remove the growth, it is okay to wait until you are sure. Pruning is helpful for hydrangeas but not entirely necessary.
  • Attention during the spring can help ensure new growth will be strong enough to make it through the upcoming winter.

Pee Gee Hydrangea Bush - White Flowering Shrub - Live Plant Shipped 1 to 2 Feet Tall, Grows Into a Weeping Hydrangea Tree (No California)

Things to Know About Hydrangeas

  • One thing to be aware of is your hardiness zone. Hardiness zones tell you what kinds of plants and flowers will do best in your area.
  • By understanding the highest temperatures of the seasons, you can find out what will do best in that area.
  • Hydrangeas do best in USDA zones four to six, meaning they can handle four-season areas, but intense winters or summers may introduce problems.
  • So places such as Cape Cod or Scranton would do well with hydrangeas.
  • While hydrangeas are hard, some things can be done to help them. Too much direct sunlight can cause browning.
  • So plant hydrangeas in areas where they will get a bit of natural shade.
  • Because hydrangeas are perennials, meaning they will occur year after year. They need winters they can survive through without freezing past the point of no return.
  1. One final tip, watering during the summer should be done in the morning. As with most plants and grass, watering during the hottest point of the day can be problematic.

Check out: How to Save a Dying Hydrangea [Easy Tips]

Don’t Overdo Trimming

  • There are a few instances when hydrangeas will require a lot of pruning. For the most part, hydrangeas are self-sufficient.
  • One important thing to note with hydrangeas is that they need plenty of room to grow and spread out.
  • If they can’t spread out, they struggle to bloom. It may seem there is a lot of dead foliage that needs to be removed when the hydrangea should be thriving.
  • Hydrangeas need space to root well and bloom. Without proper space, the plant may fail to produce blooms because there simply is no room.
  • When hydrangeas have plenty of room, they can get quite large. While there are different species, a good average is about six feet tall and up to five feet long.
  • This can vary quite a bit, especially with a climbing hydrangea which can grow up to 50 feet tall.
  • Being able to grow large is what keeps hydrangeas happy. Pruning to make them smaller is generally bad practice for their overall health and unnecessary work for you.
  • The best rule for pruning is that foliage should not be removed unless it is dying and cannot correct in a better way.

Read: Can You Plant Hydrangeas Outside?

1 Gallon Quick Fire Fab Panicle Hydrangea (Paniculata) Live Plant, White, Pink, and Red Flowers

Before You Prune

  • Before you start to prune your hydrangeas, consider all other issues that may be happening. We have covered underwatering as a contributor to brown hydrangeas.
  • Other things may cause browning that can be fixed. Hydrangeas are prone to some diseases; Botrytis blight and powdery mildew.
  • With Botrytis blight, you may notice that the leaves of the hydrangea have irregular brown spots. It tends to eat through the leaves and is unsightly.
  • Powdery mildew is a fungus that will cause the hydrangeas to grow a white fungal substance on the plant.
  • These problems are common if there is too much moisture or humidity or after heavy rainfall.
  • Both of these are treated by removing fallen infected growth that may spread the problem – washing them gently with a light mixture of water, baking soda, and dish soap is also a good method.
  • Pests can also be a common problem for most plants, which can cause browning in the leaves.
  • There are a lot of solutions out there for pests, so even if you suspect your hydrangea is under attack don’t start pruning.
  • All of this to say, many issues with abnormal brown hydrangeas can be treated and fixed. If you are noticing this, try to identify the problem and solve it before you prune it.
  • Pruning in these situations won’t necessarily solve the problem and could cause further harm to the hydrangea.
Should I Cut Off Brown Hydrangea Blooms
Should I Cut Off Brown Hydrangea Blooms

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Putting It All Together

  • You have all the information about why a hydrangea bloom would turn brown. Hopefully, it helps answer the question; should you cut brown hydrangea blooms?
  • If it isn’t clear, let’s break it down further.
  • Hydrangeas don’t like a lot of cutting or pruning. There is one time a year you should prune: That is the spring. So they have plenty of time to recover and establish strong regrowth.
  • You should only cut flower heads, wood, and leaves that are dead – this should be defined as browning that is not caused by dehydration, pests, disease, or heat.
  • If it is one of those issues, appropriate steps should be taken to correct the problem. Pruning won’t fix it and is a problem in itself.
  • By taking these steps, you will ensure your hydrangeas come back year after year to be enjoyed throughout the seasons.