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Should You Prune Annabelle Hydrangeas? (Care Tips and More)

Kelly Lehman is the owner of Cranbury Fields Flower Farm and shows everyday gardeners how to grow amazing flowers on her Youtube Channel.

Lucy and I enjoying some freshly-cut Annabelle hydrangeas!

Lucy and I enjoying some freshly-cut Annabelle hydrangeas!

To Prune or Not to Prune?

Annabelle hydrangeas—do you really need to prune them back? As the owner of a flower farm in New Jersey, I'm no stranger to hydrangeas (and how much work it can be to prune them back each year!). So this year, I wound up doing an experiment to see what would happen if I pruned some of my hydrangeas back and left the other ones in place.

I usually do not prune back my Annabelle hydrangeas. I just kind of leave them alone. I don't even deadhead them a lot of the time, though I know it can be important to deadhead them if you want them to have a recharge. But I didn't even do that—instead, I let myself get a little bit lazy and left those spent blooms in place.

Not pruning your Annabelle hydrangeas may result in smaller blooms, but they're no less stunning!

Not pruning your Annabelle hydrangeas may result in smaller blooms, but they're no less stunning!

What Happens If You Don't Prune a Hydrangea?

The bushes that I left alone—no pruning or deadheading whatsoever—came in pretty spectacular. What happens with Annabelle hydrangea is if you don't prune them back, you wind up getting small, beautiful flower heads. They don't end up being tiny by any means, but they grow smaller flower heads than if you actually do prune them back.

So even if you don't prune them back, the flower heads on Annabelle hydrangeas are still gorgeous, and they're still actually pretty big.

What Happens If You Do Prune a Hydrangea?

If you decide to prune them back, the floral heads are probably going to be larger—almost as big as soccer balls. But while those bigger blooms are gorgeous, they can also be problematic.

Big Blooms on Floppy Stems

When you prune back, you usually go down to about two feet tall towards the beginning of spring, so when the plant gets new growth, a lot of it is stemming right from the base of the plant. That means that some of the stems are super, super long, and they're on new growth, which makes the stem just slightly floppier.

When you have those slightly floppier stems with giant, colossal flower heads, sometimes they tend to flop to the ground more easily when there's a big rainstorm. But they still look beautiful!

Just a Matter of Preference

The moral of the story? It's OK if you prune back your Annabelle hydrangeas, and it's also OK if you don't prune back your Annabelle hydrangeas. It's just a matter of preference. And if you're struggling to get blooms to show on your hydrangeas at all, here are seven possible reasons why.

More Annabelle Hydrangea Tips

In addition to tips on pruning (or not pruning!), here are a couple of other things to keep in mind when planting or cutting your hydrangeas.

Plant in a location with morning sun and afternoon shade.

Sometimes, if planted in full sun (and in a super hot summer), the hydrangea's white blooms will burn up in the afternoon sun. So if you can, plant them in morning sun and afternoon shade; then they'll wind up keeping a deeper, greener tone.

Wait to cut Annabelle hydrangeas until they're semi-dried out.

I love waiting until blooms are at this point to cut them, which is closer to the end of July. When I put them in a vase in their white, fluffy stage, a lot of times the vase life for those blooms isn't as wonderful as when they're semi-dried out. And they turn such a beautiful green towards the end of summer!

I hope you loved learning about Annabelle hydrangeas. After all, why not do a little less work if you can get away with it!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Kelly Lehman