How To Prune Phantom Hydrangea

In contrast to mophead or lacecap hydrangeas, which have circular flower heads, panicle hydrangeas, Hydrangea paniculata, have broad flower cones. The majority of cultivars bloom from late summer through fall. Compared to many hydrangeas, they are less sensitive to the pH of the soil, but they still do best in fertile, moist soil that is well-drained.

Huge white flower panicles on the Hydrangea paniculata “Phantom” start out pale green in the early summer and turn white as they grow. For optimal results, trim “Phantom” back severely each year to a height of about 30 cm above the ground, then mulch with a thick layer of thoroughly decayed organic waste.

When planted in a mixed herbaceous border, particularly with other hydrangeas, “Phantom” thrives.

Phantom hydrangeas need to be clipped when, exactly?

The Phantom Hydrangea is a magnificent 6 to 8 foot tall deciduous shrub with gorgeous 15 inch long conical pure white flower heads. These bloom for 3 to 4 months of the year, starting in the middle of summer and gradually turning pink in the early fall. If you reside in a region that is too cold for mophead hydrangeas, this readily grown shrub is a great addition to any garden and is hardy to minus 30 degrees.

Uses in Your Garden

Anywhere in your landscape, plant the Phantom Hydrangea alongside other bushes that bloom earlier. It will bloom longer than any other plant if you grow it as a specimen in a modest garden. It can be cultivated as a bush or trained to become a little tree, depending on your needs, so plant it in a big pot to bring blossoms to your terrace.

It is highly beneficial for those shadier regions of the garden because it grows nicely in sun or partial shade, preferring some shade in hotter climates. If the soil is neither too dry or too wet all the time, it can grow in practically any type of soil. There are no severe diseases or pests there. This robust plant is very, very simple to grow effectively, making it a fantastic choice for novice gardeners.

Size and Appearance

Depending on how it is pruned, the Phantom Hydrangea is a fast-growing shrub that will quickly grow to be 6 to 8 feet tall and nearly as broad. This deciduous shrub has pale brown stems with young stems having smooth bark and older stems having coarser bark. Oval in shape and measuring around 6 inches long, the leaves have noticeable teeth along the margin. The leaf has a mid-green color and is pleasant to the touch. They turn a vivid yellow in the fall. Along the stems, the leaves are arranged in pairs or threes. The end of each new stem will soon develop a cluster of small green blooms as the new stems grow quickly in the spring. These grow gradually, reaching a length of up to 15 inches by the middle of July.

Hundreds of blooms are contained in the flower heads, which are upright and rest on the stalks’ ends. The individual blossoms emerge as a delicate shade of green, but quickly turn four or five petals of dazzling white. These magnificent, long-lasting gigantic conical heads look amazing in the yard. Unlike earlier varieties, the stems retain the heads firmly in place, preventing them from flopping and breaking.

A nice transformation starts in the fall as the temperature drops. The white blooms start out as a faint pink color, turning darker with each day that becomes colder until they are a deep pink color by late September. Even after that, when they wilt and eventually turn to soft beige, the blooms retain their color. Although they can be cut, dried, and used as decorations inside homes all winter, many gardeners prefer to leave them on the plant throughout the season.

Care and Maintenance

The Phantom Hydrangea only need pruning in late winter, just before the start of new growth. There are three distinct ways to prune it. You can get many flower clusters that are a little bit smaller if you simply cut the old flower stalks off at the first green buds. The flowers will be bigger but not as numerous if you trim the stems back further, leaving 4 pairs of buds. Reduce to just 2 pairs of buds if you want the largest heads and the most impressive display. A fantastic display in your yard will be created by the ensuing stems, which will be many feet long and with massive panicles held proudly upright.

Does fresh or old wood provide flowers for Phantom hydrangea?

Medium-sized shrub “Phantom” measures 6 feet tall by 6 feet wide and has a branching habit. The enormous flowerheads, which can reach a height of 15 inches, are composed of both smaller, fruitful blooms and spectacular, but sterile, flowers. The flower clusters are kept straight and from drooping by sturdy stalks. The flowers start off as white with a green tinge in July, mature to a pink color, and bloom all the way through the fall. The pH of the soil has little impact on the color of the blooms. Phantom is resistant to late spring frosts because it blooms on wood from the current season. It tolerates modest amounts of dryness and grows well in both full sun and light shade. This plant is a hybrid of the native Hydrangea paniculata, which grows at elevations of up to 4,000 feet in Japan, China, and Korea. Phantom was given the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 2008.

How is a ghost hydrangea tree maintained?

It’s easy to take care of your Hydrangea paniculata ‘Phantom’. This one enjoys the sun, full or partial. It can withstand heat. Plant in rich, well-drained soil that is kept moist. It is advised to get some afternoon shade in warmer climates. It will flourish in any soil with a different Ph. If pruning is desired, do it in the early spring or late winter. The Hydrangea paniculata ‘Phantom’ has medium water requirements, but during dry spells will need more. In the spring, apply a fertilizer made especially for bushes. When the flowering season is through, make careful to remove any dead foliage and mulch the base in cooler climates.

What occurs if hydrangeas are not pruned?

If and when you prune is the key to happy, healthy hydrangea flowers. Of course, fertilizing and offering the ideal environment have a lot to recommend them. However, if you don’t prune properly, your efforts will be in vain. Deadheading is not the same as trimming. Pruning refers to more drastic cutting to preserve shape or remove dead growth. However, feel free to discard spent blossoms or cut fresh ones to use in arrangements.

Hydrangeas can bloom on either fresh wood or old wood, depending on the species. The wood from which they blossom determines whether and when to prune.

Old wood-blooming hydrangeas do not require pruning and benefit from it. They’ll blossom more abundantly the next season if you leave them alone. But feel free to deadhead or gently thin. Just keep in mind that while new growth may appear, it won’t bloom until the following season. In our region, four different species blossom on aged wood. Additionally, they are not limited to the hues displayed here.

Climb using suckers. On your wall or trellis, resist the desire to remove the dormant growth.

The flower heads are more conical in appearance, and the leaves are large and resemble oak leaves. It’s a pleasant surprise for a hydrangea when its leaves turn reddish-orange in the fall.

They are very comparable to lacecap types, but smaller and with more compact leaves.

Pruning should be done in late winter or early spring on hydrangeas that bloom on new wood. Trim back to two feet to prune to shape. The next season’s blossoms are produced by strong, fresh growth that is encouraged by trimming. In our region, there are two types that bloom on fresh wood. They are also not restricted to the colors displayed.

Oakleaf variants are not included in cone-shaped blooms. Keep the blooms on throughout the winter to provide interest; even dried out, they are quite lovely.

regarded as a wild kind. They often have smaller blooms and leaves than Bigleaf variants and are completely white. They may get very tall and like full sun.

Knowing whether or when to prune now will help you avoid the disappointment of a hydrangea that doesn’t blossom. Don’t forget that a robust shrub will produce more gorgeous blossoms if it has well-draining soil and good organic fertilizer. Come on in, and we’ll show you where to go to develop your green thumb.

A Phantom hydrangea tree: what is it?

This grafted tree is cultivated for its enormous, cone-shaped flower clusters, which emerge white and gradually take on pink or green hues. The blooms, which last and give winter interest, are the biggest of any panicle hydrangea. Beginning in the summer and continuing into the fall, it blooms on new wood. It features erect, dense growth and dark green leaves. It works nicely as an accent, a foundation plant, and in a border of mixed shrubs. It prefers soil that is evenly moist, well-drained, and partially shaded—it should never be allowed to dry out. There are no significant pests around here that affect this plant.

Do you remove hydrangea blooms that have died?

Your hydrangea shrubs’ blossoms appear to be withering or turning brown. No need to worry—this is merely a signal that it’s time to deadhead—remove the blossoms from the plant.

Deadheading hydrangeas doesn’t cause any damage to the plants at all. Flowering shrubs stop producing seeds when the spent blooms are removed, and instead focus their efforts on developing their roots and leaves. You will be doing your hydrangeas a favor by deadheading because this strengthens and makes plants healthier.

Do I need to deadhead my hydrangeas?

Throughout the whole flowering period, deadhead hydrangeas as the flowers fade. This will keep it looking tidy and assist the plant in retaining the energy required to produce new flowers.

Don’t worry about it; just cut off dried-out wasted blossoms. You don’t have to get rid of them right away, and as I’ll explain below, if you’re simply not feeling it, you can even skip deadheading.

Should hydrangeas be pruned annually?

Only prune these hydrangeas in the summer after bloom, not in the fall. In August and September, old wood hydrangeas begin to form their bloom buds for the following year. It is advisable to delay pruning your hydrangeas until the following year if you don’t do it right away. If not, there won’t be any blossoms the next spring.

How can I encourage my hydrangea to bloom more?

Early spring or mid-July through late summer are the blooming seasons for hydrangeas. The methods for extending hydrangea blossoms’ life and producing more of them are discussed below.

Plant the hydrangea where it will receive morning light and afternoon shade, keep the soil continuously moist, and treat it in the spring with a fertilizer that is well-balanced to encourage more flowers. To encourage more blossoms, don’t prune your hydrangea too frequently. Hydrangeas bloom on the growth from the previous year.

Continue reading to find out how to lengthen the time that your hydrangea blooms as well as my personal pick for the best fertilizer for hydrangeas to support flowering.

Do hydrangeas bloom when coffee grounds are present?

The abundant, globular flowers of hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp.) range in color from red to various shades of pink to white. Hydrangeas bloom with blue to lavender-blue hues in the correct soil. One approach to make soil that encourages the growth of hydrangea blooms with more odd color combinations is to use coffee grinds. Learn the steps to help your hydrangea produce blue blooms before you run to the coffee shop to pick up pounds of grounds.

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Phantom Hydrangea Care:  Everything You Need to Know

Hydrangeas are gorgeous ornamental plants that can add an elegant touch to any landscape. Despite their delicate looks, they are versatile and hardy. Among the various hydrangeas varieties, one of the most eye-catching is, without a doubt, the Phantom Hydrangea.

This plant produces stunning masses of conical-shaped blooms that attract plenty of beneficial insects to your garden. But don’t be fooled by its sophisticated looks: if you know what to give it, this plant will not cause any issues.

But if you want to learn more about growing Phantom Hydrangea in your garden, keep reading. We collected all the information you must know in this essential guide.

Phantom Hydrangea

What you Need to Know About Phantom Hydrangea

Phantom Hydrangea is a lovely plant. Its most attractive feature is its thick and conical blooms that can grow up to fifteen inches long. However, the plant’s foliage is unique too and can add texture and volume to your garden. 

Under the ideal growing conditions, this hydrangea variety will spread fast. For this reason, many gardeners decide to make it the focal point of their gardens. Alternatively, you can use it as a border or hedge. Phantom Hydrangea will perform well in mass planting: you can deadhead the flowers and use them in dry arrangements.  

However, if you have kids or pets running around your garden, you should be careful with hydrangeas. Indeed, these plants are notoriously toxic to cats, dogs, and even horses. All parts of hydrangeas (including the roots and stems) will be poisonous to your animals. So, keep an eye on your hairy friends or consider planting other species if you are too worried they will inevitably munch on your plant’s leaves. Also, its foliage can aggravate skin allergies.

How to Care for Phantom Hydrangea

Phantom Hydrangea

While caring for a thriving Phantom Hydrangea isn’t anything out of this world, you should learn about the plant’s needs and requirements. Luckily, this plant isn’t too fussy, making it suitable even for beginner gardeners.

Here, we collected all the information you must have on hand when adding Phantom Hydrangea to your garden. Follow our tips, and you’ll be able to enjoy this stunning plant for years! 

Place your Phantom Hydrangea in a sunny location. Sunlight will ensure vivid blooms and enhance production. However, if you live in a hot region, you might have to provide your plant with some protection from the afternoon sun rays that might scorch its leaves.

While the plant has no issues tolerating the heat, it requires constant moisture to stay healthy (as you’ll learn in the following section). And exposure to sunlight will bring the best colors. 

Water and Soil Needs

One of the best things about Phantom Hydrangea is its versatility. This plant adapts to various soil conditions and doesn’t require a particular pH to produce blooms. However, a well-draining and rich substrate will allow your plant to grow better.

If you live in a warm region, you might have to increase the watering frequency during the hottest summer days. Indeed, your hydrangea requires constant moisture to stay healthy.

Of course, that doesn’t mean overwatering your plant: learn about its needs (by feeling the soil with your fingers) and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Usually, your plant will need moisture at least once per week. 

While the plant might survive short periods of drought, regular watering is essential to its health. To prevent issues, consider adding a thick layer of organic mulch around your plant. It will increase drainage and improve water retention. Additionally, it can make nutrients better available to your hydrangea, which will make it less susceptible to diseases and infections. 

Temperature Requirements

Phantom Hydrangea

You can plant phantom hydrangeas in most US regions. This species is cold-hardy to zone 3 and tolerates the heat. However, it might not be the best plant for areas where summers are hot and dry. So, keep that in mind before adding this plant to your garden. 

Adding extra nutrients to your plant will boost its growth. But don’t overdo it: too much of a good thing can cause issues. Instead, choose a slow-release balanced fertilizer and follow the instructions you find on the label.

Apply the treatment during the growing phase (in the spring) to give your plant an early-season boost. You can also fertilize them a second time in July to enjoy their blooms for longer. 

Common Diseases 

Most hydrangeas are susceptible to some fungal and viral diseases. However, taking preventive measures (and care of your plant), you shouldn’t worry too much about them. Fungal infections will commonly appear if you overwater your plant.

So, besides placing your plant in an adequate substrate, you must also regulate your watering schedule. And if you notice drooping, yellowing, or reddish lesions on your plant’s leaves, consider reducing the watering frequency.

Also, space your plants adequately to ensure proper airflow. If necessary, prune their branches (use sterile shears to prevent any issues) and remove damaged or dead flowers to prevent the appearance of fungi. 

When watering your hydrangeas, do so without wetting the leaves: it will help you prevent the spread of most infections. Keeping your plant healthy will make it less susceptible to attacks from pests. Still, aphids and mites might visit your phantom hydrangea. Taking prompt action will save you plenty of headaches and contain any possible infestation.

Phantom Hydrangea Propagation

The best way to propagate your phantom hydrangea is to take stem cuttings. For best results, start the process in April and May. Pick healthy stems with at least three leaves and place them in a vase of water. The cuttings will root in a couple of weeks. After that, move them into a container with the right potting mix and wait for them to grow! 

Related Article: Do Hydrangeas Die in Winter?

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How to Prune a Hydrangea Tree

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

I have a hydrangea tree, but its branches are too long. So when it rains, the branches and flowers bend down to the ground. Can I cut branches back and, if so, at what period?

J.Y. Simard

Sure you can prune it, but to understand how and why, it is worth explaining what a hydrangea tree is.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

A Real Shrub With a Radical Bod Mod

A hydrangea tree is in fact a panicled or PG hydrangea ( Hydrangea paniculata ). It is specially pruned to take on a tree like shape. In the summer, it forms at the tip of its branches large elongated clusters of white or lime-green flowers. Depending on the cultivar, they gradually become pink or even reddish through the fall. It’s pretty much the only hydrangea used this way. Most other species don’t have stems strong enough to make good trees.

Normally, the panicled hydrangea grows as a large multi-stemmed shrub. It produces a profusion of branches from its base and takes on an upright, spreading shape over time, reaching up to 15 feet (5 m) in height and width after 15 to 20 years. It’s clearly a shrub; in its natural form, it looks nothing like a tree.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

To form a hydrangea tree, the nurseryman chooses a young specimen with a robust central branch and begins to “prune it into submission.” He removes any other branches and also secondary branches that grow on the branch selected to be the future trunk. Staking is often needed to keep the trunk rigidly upright during the first few years. When the trunk has reached the desired height (usually about 4 or 5 feet/1.2-1.5 m), he begins pruning the top of the plant too. That forces the hydrangea to produce multiple branches at the top of a central stem: its new trunk.

And there you go! A hydrangea on a trunk, somewhat like a living lollipop!

Producing a hydrangea tree is time-consuming and adds greatly to the cost of the plant, so it’s quite a pricey item. 

You can also prune a hydrangea into a tree shape on your own if you want. But it will take a few years. 

Regular Pruning Is Required

If you want to maintain a hydrangea tree, you’ll need to be ready to prune it regularly. Otherwise not only do the branches lengthen to the point they start to bend under their own weight, as you have noticed, they can even snap off, especially under the added weight of heavy snow.

In your case, since your hydrangea tree is overgrown and the branches already bend under their own weight, it would be wise to prune it before winter. If not, there is a risk that they snap off in snowy or icy weather. So, in October or November, simply cut all branches back to about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) from the top of the trunk.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

Once you’ve gotten your hydrangea tree back into a more winter-resistant shape, start pruning early in the spring rather than the fall. That’s because the dried flower heads of the panicled hydrangea have ornamental value over the winter, so you’ll want to keep them until spring.

Therefore, every year, make a habit of cutting back all the branches 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) from the trunk early in the spring, before the leaves unfurl. This will give your tree the appearance of a ball of foliage capped with flowers at the top of a short trunk, usually the desired effect. Since panicled hydrangeas flower from new growth produced starting in mid-spring, it will bloom abundantly even after a severe early spring pruning.

To maintain its treelike appearance, with a well-defined “trunk,” also remove any suckers that appear at the base of the plant as well as any growth that appears on the trunk itself. You can do this kind of pruning in any season.

Hydrangeas for Laidback Gardeners

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

Giving any living plant an unnatural shape is always going to require extra maintenance. Might I suggest that the more laidback gardener might prefer to abstain from hydrangea trees? Grow them instead of the way they want to grow, as large shrubs. Give the plant lots of room (most panicled hydrangeas are very big plants) and just let it do its thing. Some, like Pinky Winky (‘Dvppinky’) have naturally sturdy, erect stems that don’t tend to flop. The old-fashioned but once very popular PG hydrangea ( H. paniculata  ‘Grandiflora’), is huge and floppy and—what can I say?—just gorgeous even as it splays out over half your garden.

If space is at a premium, there are now smaller panicled hydrangeas, like ‘Bobo’ and ‘Little Lamb’ that won’t take up as much room. And flower color, panicle size and flowering season also vary from one cultivar to the next. It’s up to you to choose the panicled hydrangea cultivar that best corresponds to your tastes and your needs!

Panicled hydrangeas grow best in full sun or very light shade in just about any well-drained soil. They’re cold hardy and adapted to zones 3 to 8.

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34 comments on “ how to prune a hydrangea tree ”.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

Can I cut a mophead hydrangea tree to the groundand will it turn into a shrub that blooms?

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

I’m a ‘why’ person. In order to find out the ‘why’ of any situation. It is very important to understand its history and how it came to be, and you gave us very good guideline information that can easily be followed.

What I don’t understand is why no one, include this article, never mentions anything regarding pruning in the summer. The question that was asked, referred to pruning “…when it rains, the branches and flowers bend down to the ground.” branches with very heavy panicles that actually bend all the way to the ground! The question must be referring to the summer (rain, large blooms, hydrated stems in order to bend). So without any reference to handling what this person should do in the first place – preventing branch(s) from bending and/or pruning during the summer months so that these bending branches don’t break.

Based on everything I’ve been able to find online, it would seem than Hydrangea Paniculata (mine is the Peegee Hydrangea) must not be touched until the Fall. But I cannot find the ‘why’ in any posts, articles, or references.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

We bought a house with a PG tree 6 years ago. Every year in fall cut back each blooming stem to just above first growth buds on each stem. Trouble is every year the number of blooms doubles as each new growth gives 2 bloom stems. Not sure what to do now, if do the same this fall it will be overloaded with blooms next summer.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

Just planted my hydrangea tree this year. Its droop cause the branches are so thin. Should I cut the thin branches

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

I planted a vanilla strawberry hydrangea in a new garden and it seems to be doing well. Can I prune back branches in the summer of the first season? Also, I planted it in corner a little less than 3 feet from fence. Noting they grow to about 5 feet in diameter, should I replant it further from the fence or can I just keep pruning it to keep back from fence?

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

Hi – This post is really helpful. If the leaves have already unfurled, can I prune now or do I need to wait until fall/early spring?

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

I suggest waiting, unless you don’t mind reducing bloom for one season.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

Came here for the same issue…. 😉 I’ll wait to to prune, but could I cut off just the old bloom, leaving everything else intact? or should I just leave things alone for now?

There is never a problem cutting off dead flowers. That can be done anytime.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

I moved into a home with a huge pink hydrangea (bumblebees love it) tree that according to neighbours is over 45 years old. It was stunning this summer. But after reading your post I think it needs major help. I was going to cut off the blossoms this weekend. But I realized I may to to cut back much more. The branches are long and bend over to the ground it it aprox 14 feet tall. Since it has never been cut back before will I shock it if I prune back severely?

No, it will grow back next season. This species (Hydrangea paniculata) is very resilient and tolerates even harsh pruning well.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

I have a 10 year old strawberry panicle hydrangea which has developed about 7 2″ think very vigorous trunks which produce many new stems each year, despite cutting all stems off each fall, as well as any new branches from those 7 trunks. I haven’t had any problems with bush, except its vigorous growth and abundance of flower stems grown each year. It is beautiful this time of year but I would like to retard its growth next year. Would you recommend sawing off a few trunks this time of year? and how do I train the new growth from growing sometimes 6 ‘ long stems than hang over tree like an umbrella all way to ground? I’m glad I found this website and find your information very helpful.

You can cut even thick trunks nearly to the ground and the plant will grow back, so don’t hesitate to do so. If I were you, I’d cut back all 7 trunks come spring. If you cut really short (and repeat every year), it remain much smaller and won’t arch over.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

Thanks for the tips! We had a big branch from a maple fall on our 3 yr old tree, and one side was completely lopped off. Now we are left with a lopsided tree with a 3 ft trunk and several new growth branches going straight up. I was thinking of cutting off everything right back to the trunk except for one of the new branches from the top and by doing so extend the trunk up to about 5 ft, while hopefully giving it a chance to recover some balance going forward. Do you think it would it survive such a brutal pruning? Thanks!

It almost certainly would: shrubs are naturally resilient and panicle hydrangeas (the type hydrangea trees are made of) are particularly tough.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

I have 2 five year old hydrangea trees that I cut back in November. I don’t know the variety but they bloom profusely with large white flowers. Since they are 5 years old should I change my pruning method or continue as usual. Thank you.

Continue on: it’s working for you!

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

Hello, I am in zone 5b in Thornbury, Ontario, four blocks from Georgian Bay which really moderates our climate. Can I keep my new Pinky Winky hydrangea in a large pot and store it in my unheated shed over the winter? Thank you!

That should work. Two zones difference is usually “safe”.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

I have a vanilla strawberry hydrangea that I’m in the second year of training into a tree. It’s going very well, however, I’d like it to start branching a little lower down than it currently is, if possible. Is there a method of encouraging growth lower on the trunk, or once you’ve pruned off those branches in a prior years, it’s done?

It might still put out new growth from below. If you prune it back more severely, that would help.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

Hi there, I have a 2 year old paniculata limelight hydrangea shrub. I would like to prune this into a tree form. Is the shrub too old to prune into a tree? If not, should I prune all the branches to the level of the ground, leaving the one stem to act as a trunk?

What you suggest will work perfectly. You’ll have to keep cutting off unwanted branches that will sprout from the base for a while.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

How far back on a main branch can I cut back? Winter breakage has made my pg tree lopsided. Wondering if I can cut the main branches coming from the “trunk” of the tree.

You can cut back to near the base: say, to an inch or so. New growth will sprout you can then let regrow. If you cut it right off, to the trunk, there might not be new growth at that point.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

I have 2 large droopy hydrangea trees. Can I turn them back into bushes?

Certainly, but why not enjoy this fall’s bloom and cut them back severely in early spring. You can cut all the branches back to about 1 foot (30 cm) long and that will give a nice round ball. You’ll have to repeat annually.

I just came back to thank you. I did a pretty severe pruning this spring and now have big trees with lots of blooms and no sign of floppy branches.

It will be much easier to repeat next year now that I’ve seen the results.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

I have a tree that gets out of control every spring. It seems that the .ore I prune it in the fall or early spring, the larger it gets in early summer. What am I doing wrong? I

You’re not doing anything wrong. It’s the nature of the plant. Growers usually choose big, fast-growing hydrangeas to turn into trees. Of course, once you buy them, drastically pruning them every spring becomes the only way to control them. In a ideal world, the growers would only produce hydrangea trees from dwarf varieties, but it would take 2 extra years to create a saleable tree form, so they choose the easy way out. And you pay the price in heavy pruning!

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

For those of us who grew up with deciduous orchard trees and roses, the older types of hydrangeas are not easy to prune. We tend to prune them like what we are familiar with, which can deprive them of bloom. As much as I dislike the contemporary hydrangeas, they really are more forgiving with their pruning.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

Thank you for posting this. I was just about to post about my first year hydrangea struggles, but I am still gathering a few pictures. Your posts about hydrangeas are very helpful!

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Home for the Harvest

  • On January 10, 2023

How to trim a hydrangea tree

How to trim a hydrangea tree - standard hydrangea

Wondering when and how to trim a hydrangea tree? The timing and methods for pruning these lovely flowering standard trees depend on the species and the local growing climate.

Most Hydrangea trees are created using the species Hydrangea paniculata . Year-round pruning includes general maintenance like removing dead, damaged, or diseased branches. In snowy or windy climates, deadheading by snipping off flower heads in the fall can minimize winter damage.

Annual pruning for most types is typically done in early spring. This is the time to remove any branches that are crossing, growing inwards, or otherwise crowding the canopy. Then cut the whole canopy sphere back by about one-third of its pre-pruning size.

Read on to learn all about how and when to prune hydrangea trees!

Removing dead wood from hydrangea tree base

Introduction to pruning hydrangea trees

Pruning hydrangea trees is a necessary step for keeping them healthy and blooming. It’s essential to prune at the right time in order to get the best results from your trimming efforts. For most species, pruning should be done when the tree is dormant, which usually occurs between late fall and early spring, depending on where you live.

In addition, each species has its own specific pruning needs. For example, some are best pruned in early spring, while others should be pruned later in the season (typically after they flower). Before you begin pruning your tree, it’s important to identify which species you have and determine the proper timing for trimming.

When to trim a hydrangea tree

Timing when to trim a hydrangea trained in tree form depends on which species you are growing. Most hydrangea trees are created with Hydrangea paniculata species plants and should be trimmed in late winter or early spring.

Here are the most common species of hydrangeas and when to prune the plants:

  • Panicle Hydrangeas ( Hydrangea paniculata ): Late winter/early spring, before spring growth
  • Smooth Hydrangeas ( Hydrangea arborescens ): Late winter/early spring, before spring growth
  • Mophead Hydrangeas ( Hydrangea macrophylla ): Summer, right after flowering
  • Mountain Hydrangeas ( Hydrangea serrata ): Summer, right after flowering
  • Oakleaf Hydrangeas ( Hydrangea quercifolia ): Summer, right after flowering
  • Climbing Hydrangeas ( Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris ): Summer, right after flowering

As noted, most hydrangea trees are panicle hydrangeas ( Hydrangea paniculata ). Here are some of the most common cultivars:

  • Limelight Hydrangea (H ydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’)
  • Quick Fire Hydrangea ( Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bulk’)
  • PeeGee Hydrangea ( Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’)
  • Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea ( Hydrangea paniculata ‘Renhy’)

In general, hydrangea species that flower on fresh new growth are pruned in early spring. The plant responds to the early season pruning by sending out lots of new vigorous growth, which is capable of producing flowers.

In contrast, species that flower on old growth that has been through a winter season should not be pruned until right after they flower in the summertime. These species set their flower buds in the late summer, and the dormant buds stay on the plant through winter until they bloom the following growing season.

“Just about any bushy plant can be trained as a standard. Upright, vigorous varieties, when they exist, are easiest to train this way.” – The Pruning Book, by Lee Reich

Tools for pruning hydrangeas in tree form

When you are ready to begin the pruning process, here is a list of the tools you will likely need:

  • Gardening gloves: to protect your hands from sharp branches and thorns.
  • Pruning shears: to do trimming in small spaces, as well as shortening long branches.
  • Loppers: to trim out medium-diameter branches.
  • Pruning saw: to trim larger branches that are too thick to cut with hand shears or loppers.

Remember to use sharp tools for the best and safest results when pruning hydrangea trees. It’s also prudent to sterilize your pruning tools (I use Lysol liquid disinfectant multi-surface cleaner).

Trimming back flowering stems on a hydrangea tree

Once you have the right tools and know when to prune hydrangeas, it’s time to get started! Here is an overview of the steps involved in properly trimming a standard hydrangea:

  • Start by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged branches. Take dead branches out completely (entire branch). It’s usually easiest to completely removed the damaged and diseased ones as well. If you didn’t deadhead the plant in the fall, now is the time to snip off each overwintered flower head. It’s easiest to prune a hydrangea with all the flowers off it.
  • Remove any shoots growing from the base of the trunk or at ground level. The hydrangea tree is a “standard” topiary and should have only one central stem/trunk.
  • Next, thin out any overcrowded sections by removing branches that cross each other or are growing inwards towards the center of the tree’s canopy. Take these crossing stems and weak branches back to the main branch rather than leaving half-long stubs.
  • Step back and look at the plant’s shape overall now that the weak branches are gone. In particular, look for any overly long branches, sagging weak stems, or anything else protruding from the rounded shape of the canopy.
  • Then, cut back the whole plant by one-third of its pre-pruning size. On each branch being shortened, trim the stem back to just above a pair of buds.
  • Step back and look at the plant’s trimmed overall shape.
  • Make any last adjustments. When you prune a hydrangea that’s been trained into a tree shape, all your pruning cuts should work together to create a spherical ball on top of the main trunk.
  • Lastly, clean up any remaining twigs and small branches.

An alternative method of trimming hydrangeas is called pollarding. This type of pruning is a specialty technique that involves removing all of the branches from the main stem leaving only a pollard head. Pollarding can also be done in late winter/early spring before new growth begins. However, because the technique involves severely cutting back the tree, it is usually only practiced by experienced gardeners.

How the timing of pruning a hydrangea affects the plant

The timing of pruning affects the flowering of a hydrangea tree. A tree that is given a light pruning in late winter typically responds with vigorous growth in the springtime, followed by large, early flowers. A hydrangea tree given a significant trim later in the spring is more likely to have less vigorous growth and smaller, later flowers.

Trimming back flowering stems on a hydrangea tree

FAQs about pruning tree-form hydrangeas

What happens if you don’t prune a hydrangea tree.

If you do not prune your hydrangea tree, it will continue to grow in size, and the canopy can become overgrown. While most shrub-form hydrangeas are just fine without much pruning, standard forms should be pruned every year, so they don’t become too top-heavy for the stem (especially in windy or snowy climates). If left unpruned for several years, a hydrangea tree might eventually need to be cut back hard in order to restore its shape.

Can you prune hydrangea trees in late summer?

You can certainly prune hydrangea trees in late summer, but this is not the best time for significant pruning. If you like to deadhead the plant, you can certainly do so. You can also completely remove any branches that are dead, damaged, or diseased (do this ASAP, any time of year). Lastly, you can do light pruning to keep the overall shape looking good.

But, for major pruning of most species, it’s best to wait until late winter or early spring when the tree is still dormant. This gives the branches plenty of time to recover before new growth begins in the spring.

Can I cut back hydrangea trees all the way to the ground?

Never cut a hydrangea tree all the way back to the ground. If you cut your hydrangea all the way back, it will have to sprout anew from the roots. it is unlikely you will get any flowers that year. You’ll also have to train it back to a standard by trimming all the extra stems and helping support the main central stem as it grows.

Instead of cutting all the way back, trim each branch of the canopy down by about one-third of its length. This will keep the tree looking tidy without sacrificing future growth.

Can I trim hydrangea trees in the fall?

Yes, you can do a light trimming of your hydrangea tree in the fall if needed. However, this should be done before temperatures start to drop below freezing. You can also deadhead the plant in the fall but leave any significant pruning for late winter/early spring when the tree is still dormant. This will give the branches plenty of time to recover before new growth begins in the spring.

How to trim a hydrangea tree generated pin 46781

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Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a Master Gardener and founder of the gardening website Home for the Harvest. She has been featured by Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Mother Earth News, and the National Garden Bureau. Mary Jane lives with her family in the Okanagan Valley.

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Gardening Know How

Tips For Pruning Hydrangea Trees In The Landscape

A gardener in bright yellow gloves prunes spent flowers from a panicle hydrangea

Once you’ve had a hydrangea in the landscape, it’s hard to imagine the garden without these versatile workhorse shrubs. One of the most popular hydrangeas is panicle hydrangea ( Hydrangea paniculata ) that can grow into a small, flowering tree .

Like all hydrangeas , popular panicle cultivars like Pee Gee and Limelight are fairly low maintenance in the backyard. However, pruning is recommended to keep them looking tidy and compact. Don’t do it wrong or you may lose all of the flowers for the year. Read on for tips on how to trim a hydrangea tree.

Pruning a Hydrangea Tree

Panicle hydrangea is a flowering shrub that, left to its own devices, will grow to 25 feet (8 m.) tall and almost as wide in an irregular vase shape. The creamy white summer flowers are exceptionally showy to the point of being spectacular. They appear in panicles of blossoms some 6-8 inches (15-20 cm.) long. As summer wanes, the petals fade to a pink-purple shade.

The tree has upright, spreading branches that appear “weeping” as they are weighted down by the blossoms. Many gardeners opt to deadhead the faded flowers and clip off the brown fruits to keep the plant looking shapely. It’s important to get the timing right to avoid a blossom-less hydrangea the following summer.

When to Prune a Hydrangea Tree

If you decide to go ahead and prune your Limelight into a neat shape, the time to act is early spring, before the plant’s spring growth begins. That’s very important given the panicle hydrangea’s growth pattern.

This species of hydrangea sets its flowers on new wood, that is, wood produced in spring of the same year rather than the wood that grew in the prior autumn. You are therefore safe to prune right up through the time the panicle tree hydrangea starts growing again in spring. Pruning after that will remove the newly set flower buds and result in fewer blossoms – or none! – that summer.

How to Prune a Hydrangea Tree

Pruning a ‘Limelight’ hydrangea tree or any other panicle hydrangea tree, you don’t have to act too gently or too conservatively. These are tough, resilient plants that love to push out new growth whether or not a trim was perfectly accomplished. On the other hand, the idea is to keep this beautiful, reliable hydrangea looking like a tree, not to try to turn it into a shrub.

Start with the basic housecleaning type of pruning, removing sucker shoots that grow in around the plant base, then trim off any shoots appearing on the lower part of the trunk. A hydrangea tree looks best with one trunk, a trunk that is bare up to where the canopy begins.

At the canopy, work branch by branch, clipping each to leave only two or three sets of bud nodes. This will prevent overly long branches that end and even break as the big flowers appear on the branch tips.

At the same time, look for spots where there are several branches coming from the same area on the trunk and crowding each other Cut one right back at the main trunk. Finally, look for small branches heading straight up or toward the inside of the canopy. Cut those back to the trunk or main branch from which they are growing.

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Phantom Hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Phantom’

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

Phantom Hydrangea is in the panicle family of hydrangeas. That means that it is super hardy and a very predictable bloomer. It blooms on current years growth. That means that the plant starts growing like crazy in the spring, then come mid summer it stops growing and makes a flower bud on the end of each new branch. That’s why they almost never fail to bloom.

Phantom Hydrange is hardy in zones 3 to 8.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

When I planted these five plants in the spring of 2020 they were very small plants, just a tad bigger than rooted cuttings. They took off growing like crazy and made a ton of flowers in their first year.

Phantom can grow to a height of 48″ to 60″ but you can prune them all you want and they will still bloom. I cut mine back really hard in the fall, that way when they take off growing the following spring they stay nice and tight and compact.

The ideal time to prune them is anytime after they finish blooming until early spring.

As the blooms mature they turn a beautiful pink color. Bloom time is July through September.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

Phantom loves full sun and will tolerate partial shade.

I actually cut mine back in very early spring because I collect the branches that I remove and use them to make hardwood cuttings. I now do all of my hardwood cuttings in the late winter, early spring because it just works so much better for me. I used to do Hardwood Cuttings in November/December. See these two links;

Easy Winter Time Plant Propagation that You Can Do at Home.

and this;

In this post you can see Pam and I making hydrangea cuttings with our two youngest grandkids.

Questions, comments, mean things to say? Post them below and I’ll respond.

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August 9, 2021 at 2:38 pm

Mike – thanks for this info. My new Phantom flowers look just as your pictures do with some pink splotches and some browning. Is the browning normal and to be expected?

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August 10, 2021 at 7:58 am

Yes, the browning is the fading of the flowers, the heat moves them along quicker.

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September 12, 2020 at 10:29 pm

Glad to come upon this article Mike! I planted 2 Phantom Hydrangeas in April 2020 and I am in Zone 7. They were about 2 feet tall and full of leaves when I purchased them. I planted them in a raised soil bed. They seemed to be doing great for a couple of months and then the leaves on both started turning brown and dying off. At first I thought that they were getting too much sun even though there is a large tree that partially shades them. I researched and read that they do well in sun. Finally, I figured that they had a fungus and got some fungal spray. I started a weekly regimen of fungal spray and cut off all the brown, dying leaves. They have grown new leaves very quickly and I had several flowers on one of them but the other has yet to flower. I’m hoping they will do better next year. At any rate, thanks for all of the information you provide! You are very helpful to us less experienced gardeners!

September 13, 2020 at 7:17 am

You’re welcome Janey.

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Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom'

  • Height: 2.5m Spread: 2.5m
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The panicle hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata , bears broad flower cones rather than rounded heads like mophead or lacecap hydrangeas. Most cultivars flower from late summer to autumn. They are less sensitive to the pH of the soil than many hydrangeas, but benefit from growing in moist but well-drained, fertile soil.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom' has enormous white flower panicles, which emerge pale green in early summer and fade to white as they mature. For best results, prune back ‘Phantom’ back hard to around 30cm above ground level each year, and mulch with a thick layer of well-rotted organic matter.

‘Phantom’ is perfect for growing in a mixed herbaceous border, especially among other hydrangeas.

Find out more:

  • How to grow hydrangeas
  • How to prune hydrangeas

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Hydrangea ‘phantom’ and wildlife.

Hydrangea ‘Phantom’ has no particular known value to wildlife in the UK.

Is Hydrangea ‘Phantom’ poisonous?

Hydrangea ‘Phantom’ can be toxic.

Plants that go well with Hydrangea 'Phantom'

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

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Container gardening, edible gardening, hydrangea tree care, the hydrangea tree.

Of all the small, flowering trees, hydrangea trees are the most dramatic when in full bloom. In addition, they are easy to grow in almost all parts of the U.S. (except frost free areas), and they will bloom dependably year after year.

Hydrangea trees do not naturally grow into the shape of a tree. Left to their own devices, all hydrangeas will grow into shrubs with multiple stems. The only type hydrangea that can be made into a tree is Hydrangea paniculata . Nurseries often graft them onto a standard and train them to grow as trees when they are very young. Paniculatas dependably bloom on new growth every year in mid-summer, and the show is spectacular.

Planting the hydrangea tree properly is the key to its success. It should be planted in a location that receives at least four hours of sun a day for most of the spring and summer. It can thrive in full sun, but the blooms may last longer if they are in some shade during the hottest part of the day. Like most plants, it does best in moist but well-drained soil. It should not be planted too deeply. It should be planted at the same level as it was in the pot. The first year it is planted, the little tree should be watched carefully, and the soil should not be allowed to dry out.

If you purchase a hydrangea from the nursery already in tree form, you should provide extra bracing & support for the tree the first year or two. This will help the tree remain upright in strong windstorms, and ensure the tree grows straight up instead of sideways. This can easily be done with 2 or 3 posts in the ground that are attached to the tree with string. So the tree can't flex sideways as far.

Pruning may be the concern of many who grow this plant. Fortunately, pruning a paniculata will not cause any problems with blooming. It can be pruned at any time of the year except when blooms are forming on the tips of the branches in early to mid-summer. Bloom formation is easy to see if one looks carefully, even in the early stages. These trees can be left to grow naturally, or they may be pruned to control their shape.

After they have finished blooming in July or August, any branches growing across other branches may be removed. (I try to prune so that all branches are radiating toward the outside of the tree, rather than growing across the middle of the tree and across other branches.) The finished blooms may be removed at any time if the tree is small enough for one to reach the blooms. However, some people like to leave the blooms on the tree for winter interest, especially in areas where they can look lovely with snow on them.

Winter Care

Some people do cut the dead blooms off in the winter, so snow doesn’t weigh the branches down and break them off. Also, add a couple of inches of mulch around the base to help hold moisture in and insulate the roots. You can also wrap the ‘trunk’ with newspaper, felt, burlap, or a tree guard loosely to shield it from the wind. It also provides some protection from deer during the winter, when the deer are the hungriest. This probably isn’t necessary unless you live in an area with a very harsh winters or the first year or two after planting.

Beautiful Hydrangea Trees For Sale

While any variety of Hydrangea paniculata may be grown as a tree, the most common variety planted at this time is ‘Limelight.’ The blooms on ‘Limelight’ are huge and can be seen from a great distance.

Limelight Hydrangea Tree

Limelight Hydrangea Tree

Little Lime Hydrangea Tree

Little Lime Hydrangea Tree

Fire Light Tidbit Hydrangea Tree

Fire Light Tidbit Hydrangea Tree

Bobo Hydrangea Tree

Bobo Hydrangea Tree

-A big thank you to our friend and renowned hydrangea expert Judith King for helping us write this article.

Hydrangeas For Sale

Hydrangea care, planting hydrangeas, watering hydrangeas, fertilizing hydrangeas, pruning hydrangeas, growing hydrangeas in pots, hydrangea winter care, changing the color of hydrangeas, propagating hydrangeas, hydrangea companion plants, types of hydrangeas, common hydrangea problems, cut hydrangea care.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

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Phantom Panicle Hydrangea

Enormous blooms, hardy phantom panicle hydrangea grows tall.

  • Sophisticated Large Scale Shrub
  • Creamy White Flower Clusters Grow up to 15 Inches Long
  • Strong, Sturdy Stems Easily Hold up the Blooms Without Flopping Over
  • Dense Conical Flowers Wonderful in Cut Arrangements
  • Bloom Display Lasts and Lasts
  • Tall, Showy Shrub Great as a Backdrop, Screening or Living Fence
  • Incredibly Cold Hardy Panicle Hydrangea
  • Truly Easy Care
  • Urban Tolerant
  • Grow in Full Sun or Light Partial Shade
  • Winner of the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit

Phantom Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata Phantom') is a beautiful tall variety that grows massive, 15-inch flower panicles that are well supported by sturdy, strong stems. You'll be amazed, but your gigantic flowers won't droop down to the ground .

Phantom features gigantic blooms that are wide at the base and narrow a bit as they extend upward. It only takes a few to create magnificent cut flower arrangements , so you'll have plenty to enjoy in your garden landscape.

This is an impressive multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub with an upright form. The woody stems are strong, and the branching is uniform on this pretty shrub. With those impressive blooms held aloft, Phantom is sure to become one of your favorite flowering shrubs.

In early summer, the delicate blossoms appear with a light-green hue. The blooms slowly transition to pristine white for summertime display. They age to a lovely light-pink shade for autumn . Leave them standing for winter interest.

The huge blooms appear at regular intervals from top to bottom and side to side. You'll love the flowering symmetry! No wonder the Royal Horticultural Society awarded Phantom their prestigious Award of Garden Merit.

You can count on the performance , even up into the near Arctic Zone 3. Phantom is the most cold-hardy of all the white Panicle Hydrangea and will easily bounce back after tough winters.

Phantom blooms year after year with little maintenance . Simply trim back about 1/3 of the overall size of the shrub each year in early spring before the plant starts to grow. You can easily maintain your plants between 5-10 feet tall in a rounded form.

Hydrangeas come in many colors and forms, but few can rival the majestic size and color of the Phantom Hydrangea. Order from us today!

How to Use Phantom Hydrangea in the Landscape

Phantom Hydrangea is a wonderful large-scale shrub that makes a fabulous backdrop and screening plant. Celebrate a special occasion by planting these wonderfully decorative shrubs . It grows large enough to make a big impact in the garden design, after all. You'll forever remember the day you planted them.

Include at least one in your cutting garden where you will cut and use those flowers fresh or dried. Have a marriage coming up? Plant several now and harvest the blooms for fabulous Do-It-Yourself decorations.

Love the Holidays? Allow the blooms to finish drying on the shrub, then cut and spray with gold or silver spray paint to add a bright pop in your trimmings of Holly and other evergreens.

It makes a spectacular addition to foundation plantings as a specimen plant to anchor a corner of your home or porch. Try an informal grouping of Phantom Hydrangeas to create an impressive focal point in your yard. It's a perfect backdrop on the north side of smaller shrubs and perennials.

Run Phantom along the length of your existing fence to easily add height and soften the look. We've even them staggered in a zig-zagged planting pattern on either side of a low picket fence and it looked terrific!

It is a big grower and makes an excellent addition to the sunny side of a windbreak or shelterbelt . These flowering plants adding density and lots of interest especially against taller evergreens.

Phantom makes a fantastic informal hedge. You'll love the privacy. Space them 4-5 foot apart on center to make a solid screen. You'll measure from the center of one to the center of the next.

Just remember that no one ever said a row has to be stick straight! Why not meander the sight line to follow the contours of your landscape? Boost the romance with curved lines that create little hidden moments for sweet set of cozy chairs or even a lazy hammock to while away an afternoon with a good book!

Try these gorgeous shrubs as living green walls to create a Secret Garden for yourself . Indulge your dearest garden fantasies with the ethereal blooms of the Phantom Panicle Hydrangea.

#ProPlantTips for Care

This beautiful shrub is exceptionally cold hardy and very easy to care for . While it can be grown in either sun or partial shade, please know that it will flower best in a sunny spot.

In the very coldest Zone 3 gardens, it's a good idea to give it a protected spot from the very worst of the bitter winter winds. Try planting on the sunny side of taller evergreen trees or on the south side of your home or outbuilding.

Give it well-drained soil or improve your drainage with a technique called mounding up. Add additional soil to 18 - 24 and plant directly in that mound. You can also create lovely raised beds to bring visual structure to your planting designs.

Give your plants a moderate amount of water on a regular basis. This is especially important in spring. Don't let the soil dry out during the flower development stage to encourage big, huge flower heads. Give your Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom' a nice, thick layer of mulch over its root system to keep it nice, moist, and cool.

Prune back hard in early spring, and you'll enjoy fresh new flowering growth later in the season. This is a simple yearly task that should be done before the plant has started to leaf out.

Don't prune once you see new growth, or you'll risk cutting off those breathtaking blooms for the year!

Before your shrubs start growing in early spring, trim the overall size back by about a third. Keep a rounded shape for the best results and make pruning cuts at a 45-degree angle just above a fat, swollen leaf bud. In this manner, you can easily maintain the of the overall size from 5 to 10 feet tall.

Once your Phantom is mature, conduct a regular schedule of renewal pruning cuts every few years in early spring. Remove the oldest, thickest stems all the way down to the ground. You'll leave the younger, thinner stems and shorten them up by a third. Your shrub will love this freshening up and respond beautifully.

Enjoy the astounding blooms and high performance of the Phantom Panicle Hydrangea. Order from the expert growers of Nature Hills today!

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Grateful Red Hydrangeas

Hydrangea Guide

Hydrangea paniculata pruning – when and how to prune, april 2, 2019 john comments 0 comment.

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The hydrangea paniculata is a beautiful variety.  These varieties will grow in many climates. They are different from traditional lacecaps or Mop Heads because they require several hours of sunshine.

They are very tolerant of pruning which makes them attractive to many people. You can prune them almost any time throughout the year with the exception of the formation of bloom heads during the summer. In fact this is the only variety of hydrangeas that can be pruned into a new form of tree .

When to prune

You can prune this particular variety during the fall, winter, or spring but you do not have to prune them on an annual basis. It is better that you trim out certain crossing branches so that they don’t layer on top of one another and creates an unattractive form as they get older.

How to prune hydrangea paniculata

With this variety of hydrangeas you will see blooms on new wood. These are particularly rewarding hydrangeas to grow because they will try to bloom on an annual basis regardless of how you treat them.

The only time you cannot prune this particular hydrangea trees in the summer when the hydrangea is preparing to bloom.

Many people who use this variety to create a hedge around the garden will typically cut back within a few inches off the ground during the fall just so that the plants don’t become aesthetically displeasing during the winter. Rest assured that when spring and summer come’s around they will still try to bloom beautifully and even the most drastic of pruning will not inhibit the blooms however the stems may need something to help support them.

Removing dead blooms

If you want to remove the dead blooms, you can, much like the plant itself, do this anytime of the year. If you do it during the summer when the new buds are growing you need to be incredibly careful so that you don’t damage the blooms.  If you do you simply won’t have as many of those beautiful panicle shaped blooms the following year. However, you can remove the dead blooms by cutting off short stems at any time of the year.

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The Hydrangea Variety That Loves A Massive Pruning

Hydrangeas in bloom

Hydrangeas have become a landscape staple because of their colorful, vibrant, and showy blossoms. While most  hydrangeas are easy to care for , some varieties prefer more pruning than others to grow larger flowers — Annabelle hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle') are a case in point. When left unpruned, these glorious shrubs bloom beautifully, albeit at the cost of developing smaller flowers, which works if it suits your preferences. However, you can gain greater benefits by trimming them regularly.

Pruning hydrangea flower heads before the growth season ends can promote another spurt of flower blossoms in some cultivars. Moreover, it helps maintain the hardy shrub's visual appeal by reshaping the plant and managing its size. But the biggest gain lies in its ability to sprout thicker, sturdier stems, supporting an even bigger snowball-sized white flower growth. Given their propensity to grow flowers only on new wood, it's ideal to trim these deciduous plants toward the end of winter or early spring, right before new buds emerge.

About Annabelle hydrangeas

Belonging to the smooth hydrangea variety, Annabelle hydrangeas are prized for their attractive, big white flower clusters that closely resemble a snowball and have a spread that measures up to 30 centimeters. Hardy in zones 3 to 9, these shrubs easily adapt to full or partial sun conditions, making them popular amongst amateur green enthusiasts. They initially develop green puffs, which slowly mature into white blooms. Their alluring flowers remain in full bloom for over 6 to 8 weeks, eventually turning lime green when summer ends.

During the fall, Annabelle hydrangeas take on a tan hue, which causes many gardeners to delay their pruning until late winter to retain visual interest. Unlike other hydrangea varieties, Annabelle solely supports sterile flower heads whose color remains unchanged regardless of the soil pH level. They grow elliptical, long-petioled, green leaves, which turn goldish-yellow and drop down when the plant goes dormant during the winter. As these hardy shrubs thrive, with many expanding to 6 to 8 feet at maturity, it's essential to prune them regularly to control their spread and avoid any damage to new bud growth.

How to prune Annabelle hydrangeas

As some Annabelle cultivars can produce an additional flower flush, many prefer trimming the plant when its flowers fade during the summer end or early fall. However, to promote bigger blooms, it's ideal to prune the shrub in late winter or early in the spring before new leaves grow out. Cutting down the shrub's old stems to around 4 to 6 inches in height promotes large flowers in the next season, but it may turn the plant droopy. So, to retain a taller and sturdier growth, you can prune it to around 18 to 24 inches from the ground.

The first step to pruning Annabelle Hydrangeas is to remove discolored flowers and damaged stems during the fall. Also, remove all plant branches crossing each other or growing horizontally to prevent wound rubbing and maintain a tall structure. Pare down around ⅓ of the plant's oldest stems to the healthiest bud growth during late winter to instill new growth. You can even use this dormancy to give the plant a different shape by making cuts on the plant's crown.

How to Prune Hydrangeas

Match the Pruning Method to the Species

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

Julie Thompson-Adolf is a Master Gardener and author with over 30 years of experience in year-round organic gardening; seed starting, growing heirlooms, and sustainable farming.

phantom hydrangea tree pruning

  • Working Time: 15 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 15 mins - 1 hr
  • Yield: 1 bush
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0

Hydrangeas make beautiful focal points in the garden, and they require minimal care other than pruning and fertilizing . Although many hydrangeas have interesting foliage and bark, most are grown for their large, showy blossoms. If hydrangeas don’t bloom for a season, it's usually due to one of three reasons: They didn't get enough sun, an early frost or cold spell killed the buds, or they were pruned at the wrong time. Learning how to prune your hydrangeas, whether is should be done in the summer or other months, can make the difference between a lush crop or lackluster output of blooms the next year.

In general, to prune hydrangeas in summer, you'll need to remove dead or crossing stems, cutting them close to the ground. To rejuvenate the hydrangea, remove up to one third of the older living stems down to the ground each summer. Keep in mind that buds for blooms are produced on old wood; thus, the more old wood you eliminate, the less beautiful the floral display will be during spring and summer.

How and when you prune hydrangeas varies according to the six different species of hydrangea commonly grown as garden plants. Thus, you'll need to know (or determine) what species you have in order to prune at the right time of year.

Can you deadhead hydrangeas in the summer? Yes, because deadheading spent flower heads will not harm the plant. Deadheading and pruning (removing more than just the flower head) hydrangeas are two different techniques.

When to Prune Hydrangeas

Like most woody flowering shrubs , when you prune a hydrangea depends on whether it blooms on new wood (growth produced in the current season) or old wood (growth from the previous season). In the case of hydrangeas, this is complicated by the fact that some species of hydrangea bloom on old wood, while others bloom on new wood.

Shrubs that bloom on new growth should be pruned in the late winter or early spring just before the critical new growth has started. This will maximize the amount of new growth and the number of flowers your shrub produces. Shrubs that bloom on old growth, on the other hand, should be pruned immediately after their flowers have faded. This gives the plant plenty of time to develop wood that will be "old" by the time the next season's flower buds emerge.

If you don't immediately know the type of hydrangea you own, it's relatively easy to determine it based on simple observation of its leaves and flowering pattern.

  • Bigleaf hydrangeas ( Hydrangea macrophylla) have exceptionally large, long serrated dark green leaves (up to 8 inches) and they bloom for an extended period through mid to late summer. The flower color is affected by soil pH ; acid soils cause flowers to be blue; alkaline soil causes pink flowers. Along with the large leaves, bigleaf hydrangeas are identified by the large, rounded flowers that bloom in summer. This is one of the species that bloom on old wood; you'll prune this just after the plant is finished flowering.
  • Smooth (wild) hydrangeas ( H. arborescens) have spring and early summer flowers are that are big and round, either white or shades of pink. The most common garden variety is 'Annabelle', easily identified by its huge snowball-shaped flowers. This plant flowers on new wood, so you'll prune it in late winter or early spring.
  • Panicle (peegee) hydrangeas ( H. paniculata) have large cone-shaped flower panicles. The flowers are white or green when they first bloom, gradually turning pink. This type is another of the hydrangeas that flower on new wood, requiring late winter or early spring pruning.
  • Oakleaf hydrangeas ( H. quercifolia) , as the name suggests, have leaves that resemble those of oak trees. Their flowers, which bloom early in the season, are cone-shaped and start out cream or green in color, gradually becoming pink. This species flowers on old wood, which means you'll prune immediately after it flowers.
  • Mountain hydrangeas ( H . serrata ) look like a smaller, more compact version of bigleaf hydrangea. Its lacecap-shaped flowers vary in color depending on soil pH. It blooms on old wood but its small size (2 to 4 feet) means that pruning is not needed very often. If you do prune, it will be done immediately after flowering.
  • Climbing hydrangeas ( H. anomala subsp. petiolaris ) are very vigorous climbing vines (as much as 40 feet) with white flowers that appear in spring to early summer. The flowers form flattened clusters up to 8 inches wide. This is another of the varieties that flowers on old wood; when pruning is needed, it will be done after the flowers have faded.

Before Getting Started

In general, flowering woody shrubs that bloom on new wood tolerate, or even thrive on, fairly aggressive pruning, while those that bloom on old wood require more careful restrained pruning. This is especially true of hydrangeas. The two species that bloom on new wood—panicle (peegee) hydrangeas and smooth (wild) hydrangeas—do well with an aggressive annual pruning that removes as much as one-third to one-half of the total mass of the shrub. The four species that flower on old wood—bigleaf, oakleaf, mountain, and climbing hydrangeas—may not need pruning at all, except when you are pruning to keep their size or shape in check.

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What You'll Need

Equipment / tools.

  • Bypass pruners
  • Lawn waste bag(s)


How to prune bigleaf hydrangea (h. macrophylla).

Bigleaf hydrangeas are one of the species that bloom on old wood, meaning they set their flower buds from late summer to early fall. Thus, if you mistakenly prune in the spring or even late fall, it will remove the flower buds and any chance of getting blooms for a year. Bigleaf hydrangeas actually do fairly well without any pruning at all, but if necessary to control its shape or size, do the pruning carefully just after the flowers have faded, never removing more than one-third of their total growth.

The Spruce / Almar Creative

Deadhead Spent Flowers

Spent flowers can be trimmed away as they fade to keep the plant looking tidy. Simply clip away the blooms using bypass pruners.

Prune Away Dead and Weak Stems

When most of the flowers have faded, it's time for pruning. Begin by pruning away stems that are clearly dead or weak. But don’t prune all the old wood because this is what will keep flowering as the new growth matures.

Prune for Size

If your hydrangea has outgrown its space and you need to prune it, you can prune away select branches to curtail its size. Prune away select branches all the way to ground level or to a main stem, but make sure to retain some healthy branches to avoid losing all the flowers. A bigleaf hydrangea can be pruned back by one-third of its total mass, but harsher pruning will weaken the shrub and cause it to languish for a season or two.

Bigleaf hydrangea is the variety most susceptible to winter bud injury. If you live in an area with severe winters, you might need to offer it some protection. Tying the branches together and wrapping them with burlap can help the plant survive winter . Remove the burlap when the buds begin to swell.

How to Prune Smooth Hydrangea (H. arborescens)

Smooth hydrangea, including the popular cultivars H. arborescens 'Grandiflora,' 'Annabelle', and 'Incrediball', doesn't usually have any problems blooming, though its white flowers aren't as showy as we normally expect from hydrangeas. It's a round shrub with leaves that are somewhat rounded with a pointed end, paler on the underside than on the top. Blooming on new wood, smooth hydrangea does well with fairly aggressive pruning.

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Remove Dead or Injured Branches

This shrub blooms on new wood, so pruning should be done in early spring to ensure plenty of growth for flowers. Begin by removing any branches that have been injured or killed over the winter. These branches should be removed back to the main stem or even to ground level.

Trim for Shape

Additional branches can be lightly trimmed to shape the plant and retain its rounded shape. This kind of light pruning produces a large shrub with many small flower heads. "Light trimming" in this case means removing as much as one-third of each stem's length.

Prune Hard for Large Flowers

Hard pruning of a smooth hydrangea ( 12 to 18 inches from the ground) often creates a shrub that produces fewer, but much larger flower heads. These flowers may be so large that they require propping.

How to Prune Panicle (Peegee) Hydrangea (H. Paniculata)

Also known as peegee hydrangea, panicle hydrangeas produce football or cone-shaped flower clusters in mid-to-late summer. The flowers start out white , cream, or green and slowly turn pink, drying and remaining on the plant long after the leaves have fallen. Panicle hydrangea blooms on new wood; it accepts—and even prefers—fairly heavy pruning.

During the growing season, you can deadhead the flowers (remove spent flowers) as they fade. This often helps prolong the bloom season as the plant puts more energy into continued blooming.

Prune Lightly to Maintain Shape

As soon as the flowers become unattractive, clean up the overall shape of the plant with selected pruning of branches that spoil the shrub's aesthetics. Panicle hydrangea makes for an attractive shrub even after flowering is complete.

Do Hard Pruning in Late Winter or Early Spring

Flower buds occur on new spring growth with this shrub. Some hard pruning of individual stems in late winter or early spring not only will keep the plant from becoming overgrown but also will encourage healthy growth and flowers. Panicle hydrangeas can be pruned by 1/3 of their total mass without damage to the plant. This is best done by pruning out smaller wood all the way to ground level, leaving only the larger stems—which can also be partly trimmed back if needed to maintain size.

How to Prune Mountain Hydrangeas

Mountain hydrangeas are small flowering shrubs with narrow, pointed leaves and flattened flower heads. This plant is sometimes confused with  Hydrangea macrophylla  because of their similar flowers. However, this type doesn't have the big leaves of Hydrangea macrophylla . Pruning should be done cautiously—or not at all, if not required to control the shrub's shape. Blooming occurs on old wood, and the plant's pruning needs are minimal.

Remove Dead or Dying Stems in Early Spring

Any dead or winter-damaged stems can be removed all the way to ground level with pruners in early spring, before new growth has started

Prune for Shape

If major pruning is necessary, wait until the shrub has finished flowering to trim back stems to a pair of healthy buds, using bypass pruners . This is not a shrub that always requires annual pruning.

How to Prune Climbing Hydrangeas

The stunning climbing hydrangea is the type you see slowly making its way up a tree or other support. Rather than a classic shrub, it is a woody vine and it normally requires little to no pruning except to control its size. This plant flowers on old wood grown during the previous season, so any major pruning you do should be done immediately after the plant flowers.

Prune to Control Size

Once climbing hydrangeas become established, they can grow quite vigorously and might need occasional hard pruning to set boundaries for the coming season. Do this pruning immediately after the plant flowers. Most flowers occur at the top of these plants, so side trimming will have less impact on the plant's appearance.

Special Pruning to Rejuvenate a Neglected Plant

Neglected, overgrown vines can be cut back to ground level in early spring to rejuvenate the plant. However, you can expect this to reduce flowering fairly dramatically for one or two seasons.

How to Prune Oakleaf Hydrangeas (H. quercifolia)

Oakleaf hydrangea is easily recognized by its oak leaf-shaped foliage. Because its major attraction is the foliage, any loss of blooms is less disappointing than in most other hydrangea varieties. Oakleaf hydrangea flowers on old wood and major pruning should occur immediately after it has finished flowering. Be somewhat cautious when pruning an oakleaf hydrangea—prune is done to control size or shape, not to stimulate new growth.

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Prune Out Winter Dieback

Inspect your shrub in the early spring before growth has begun. If your shrub has experienced winter dieback, prune the stems back to below the point of injury. Further pruning should wait until the plant has finished flowering.

Oakleaf hydrangea blooms on old growth, so any hard pruning that's required should be done immediately after it has finished flowering. Use sharp bypass pruners to remove branches that interfere with the desired shape of the shrub. This variety is not fond of heavy pruning, so never remove more than one-third of the plant's total mass, and don't feel obliged to prune at all unless it is essential to maintain the plant's size or shape. Cut selected stems back to just above the point where they meet the main stems.

Guide to Pruning Hydrangeas . University of Maryland Extension

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  • How To's & Quick Tips

How to Prune Hydrangeas in 3 Simple Steps

Is the size of your snowball bush snowballing out of control we can give you tips on how to cut it back without eliminating its blooms..

By Audrey Stallsmith | Updated Jul 20, 2023 12:20 PM

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Woman pruning hydrangea


The question of when to prune hydrangeas depends on the types you have. Those that flower in early summer on old wood (shoots produced the previous year) should be trimmed in midsummer immediately after they bloom. Hydrangea types that flower on new wood (shoots produced the same year as their posies) in midsummer can be pruned in late winter or early spring, perhaps in autumn in mild climates.

When considering how to prune hydrangeas, keep in mind that they don’t require trimming to flower. So, if you are in doubt, just cut pruning from your hydrangea care altogether!

  • Bypass pruning shears
  • Lysol disinfectant
  • Bypass loppers

Project Overview

Working Time : 15 to 30 minutes Total Time : 15 to 30 minutes Skill Level : Beginner Estimated Cost : $20 to $28

Before You Begin

Keep in mind that there are other articles on drying hydrangeas , growing hydrangeas in pots , fertilizing hydrangeas , and changing hydrangea color . This one will concentrate solely on hydrangea pruning. Before you begin, clean your shears with a disinfecting solution such as Lysol and determine which will be the kindest cuts for the species you have.

Person's hands sanitizing pruning shears blades with alcohol swab

  • Old wood : Types that bloom on old wood include the most popular bigleaf hydrangeas ( Hydrangea macrophylla ) as well as the oak-leaf ( Hydrangea quercifolia ), rough-leaf ( Hydrangea aspera ), and climbing ( Hydrangea petiolaris ) hydrangea varieties.
  • New wood : Snowball shrubs that flower on new wood include panicle hydrangeas ( Hydrangea paniculata ) and smooth hydrangeas ( Hydrangea arborescens ).
  • Reblooming : Repeat-blooming cultivars such as the Endless Summer series bloom on both old and new wood and should be treated like old wood types for the most continuous display of flowers.

RELATED: 20 Outdoor Plants You Can Propagate From Cuttings

How to Prune Hydrangeas That Bloom on Old Wood

If you are debating when to trim hydrangeas that bloom on old wood, such as the bigleaf and oak-leaf types, do so just after they have finished flowering. If they bloom in June in your climate, for example, prune them in early July. Don’t delay trimming hydrangeas until August or you might cut off new buds that have already begun to form for the following year.

STEP 1: Deadhead any withered flowers that remain on the hydrangea bush.

Bush hydrangea cutting or trimming with secateur in the garden. High quality photo

Deadheading hydrangeas simply means removing the faded flowerheads by snipping them off. Do that by using bypass pruning shears to cut each stem below the flowerhead and just above the closest pair of leaves beneath it. For lacecap types, cut above the second pair of leaves to help prevent the formation of seeds.

If you like the look of the aging flowerheads, you can leave them on the plant, especially for the oakleaf species, on which the blooms gradually darken to pink and then a purplish hue before they dry up altogether.

STEP 2: Remove branches that appear dead, decrepit, or inclined to rub.

Bush hydrangea cutting or trimming with secateur in the garden. High quality photo

Snip off branches that have turned brittle and show no foliage nor any green pith when you scrape them. Cut them back to the point at which you do see green pith inside them or—for branches that show no green at all—remove them altogether.

Where two branches rub against each other, cut off the weakest (smallest) one to keep it from damaging the other; for these green branches, use bypass loppers if you can. Finally, remove about one-third of the oldest stems from the plant.

STEP 3: Cut the hydrangea shrub back to the size you prefer.

Bush hydrangea cutting or trimming with secateur in the garden. High quality photo

If your shrub has grown too large for its location, cut it back to the size you want it to be, making each cut about ¼ inch above a pair of leaves. However, this isn’t likely to subdue it for long. As University of California Master Gardener Norm Phillips notes “Usually the plant will return immediately to its former size. This is why it’s best to plant hydrangeas where they have enough space to grow.”

Climbing Hydrangeas: Treat vining hydrangeas much as you would other old-wood bloomers.

Climbing hydrangea blooms on old wood, namely side shoots from the previous year. However, it generally doesn’t require any pruning other than the removal of dead branches and of vines that have strayed further afield than you want them to.

Dead wood can be snipped off at any time but wait until after this climber blooms in late spring or early summer to cut back living vines. The Royal Horticultural Society notes that “most flowers appear towards the top of the plant, so try to leave as much of this unpruned as possible.”

Hydrangea petiolaris blooming . Young green leaves of Hydrangea petiolaris in summer. Climbing Hydrangea.

RELATED:  14 Best Shrubs for the Front of the House

How to Prune Hydrangeas That Bloom on New Wood

Are you wondering when to cut back hydrangeas that bloom on new wood such as smooth and panicle types? Choose early spring after they have begun to show new leaf buds, so you can determine which branches are still alive. Cut them back moderately if you prefer large bushes with an abundance of small flower heads. If you prefer small bushes with large but less numerous flower heads, opt for more drastic pruning.

STEP 1: Cut the shoots back by a third to a half.

Pruning the hydrangea


For the first option, remove one third to one half of each shoot, cutting ¼ inch above a pair of leaf buds each time. The exception, of course, would be dead or partially dead shoots, which should be cut all the way back or back to where leaf buds are showing. Always use bypass pruners when you can, since anvil types sometimes crush what they are supposed to be cutting, thus possibly doing more harm than good.

STEP 2: Alternatively, cut the bush back to 1 foot high.

Close-up pruning of bushes. Pruning a hydrangea bush.

For the second option, which generally only applies to smooth (arborescens) types that have been allowed to become established for a couple years, cut the entire bush back hard. Sever each shoot 1 foot above the ground, snipping just above leaf buds as was previously mentioned.

Don’t repeat this more drastic type of pruning too often, since it can eventually weaken the shrub. Also, the large flower heads produced by it might require staking to help them keep their heads up high.

STEP 3: Remove weak shoots, leaving in place only the largest ones.

Closeup of hands in work gloves cleaning land from dry grass and leaves around hydrangea growing on wet ground in garden in daytime. Outside leisure activity for nature lovers living country.

Whichever alternative you choose, once you have finished with the initial cutting back, examine the remaining shoots. If any of them are rubbing against each other, remove the smaller and weaker ones. In fact, it is a good idea to remove any shoots that obviously are inferior to the others, allowing the remaining strongest ones to become even stronger. Long-handled loppers , instead of pruning shears, will help you reach into the center of a bush, but are only necessary for cutting any branch over ¾ inch in diameter.

Final Thoughts

If you follow the hints above, you should be able to prune your hydrangeas without sacrificing flower buds. However, if you have difficulty understanding the concept of old wood vs. new wood, you might want to play it safe and avoid trimming those bushes at all.

After all, if they have plenty of space, it isn’t really necessary for you to chop away at them. As the University of Maryland Extension puts it, “a safe rule for all types of hydrangeas is that no pruning is better than the wrong type of pruning.”

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Phantom Hydrangea

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Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom'

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The Phantom Hydrangea is a new-generation replacement for the old PG Hydrangea – even more beautiful, and with stems that stay upright and never flop over. The huge panicles of pure-white flowers are up to 15 inches long, with hundreds of flowers in them. They sit atop the branches of a shrub that rapidly grow to 6 or 8 feet tall, and a little less across. Not only are the flowers beautiful, they last for months, from early July to the end of September. They are a beautiful soft green when immature, pure white when fully developed, and then turn darker and darker pink as the chilly weather arrives in fall. This great shrub is very easy to grow in colder areas where the mophead hydrangeas mostly will not flower, and it is a fantastic addition to any garden, all across the country. Forget the PG and plant the Phantom.

  • Huge pure-white flower panicles turn pink in fall
  • Flowers held upright all season
  • Fast-growing deciduous shrub to 6 feet
  • Long flowering period from July to September
  • Grows in cold areas where mophead hydrangeas fail

The Phantom Hydrangea will grow well in full sun to partial shade. In hotter regions it does best in partial shade, especially in the afternoons. It grows in all kinds of soils, but thrives in richer, well-drained soil that does not become too dry. Young plant should be watered regularly. It has no particular pests or diseases, tolerates air pollution and urban conditions, and is one of the easiest shrubs to grow. It need some trimming in spring for best results, but otherwise it needs no maintenance to make a spectacular showing in your garden.


New varieties of well-known garden plants are not unusual, and almost every year many new plants are released. But something as special as the Phantom Hydrangea comes along very rarely. This plant is a modern replacement for the traditional PG Hydrangea – a plant loved by generations of gardeners, especially in colder parts of the country where Mophead Hydrangeas don’t grow well. The PG Hydrangea is well-loved, but it certainly has its faults. The stems flop, and even snap, under the weight of the flowers, seriously detracting from its garden beauty. None of this is true of the Phantom Hydrangea, which has amazingly sturdy stems that hold the flowers upright , even though they are often larger than the flowers of the PG Hydrangea. No more disappointment after months of growth or having to face the laborious task of staking every single stem.

This is no sales hype – not only did the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society in the UK give the Phantom Hydrangea its prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 2008, it actually voted in 2012 to take away the award given to the PG Hydrangea – so great was the improvement that they basically said there was no point in gardeners even planting the PG Hydrangea anymore. That’s right –that old variety has been completely superseded by the improvements seen in the Phantom Hydrangea.

Growing Phantom Hydrangeas

The Phantom Hydrangea is a stunning deciduous shrub, growing 6 to 8 feet tall, with spectacular 15-inch-long conical flower heads of pure white. These begin in mid-summer, and gradually turn pink in early fall, making a wonderful display for 3 to 4 months of the year . This easily grown shrub is hardy to minus 30 degrees, and is a wonderful addition to any garden, especially if you live in an area too cold for Mophead Hydrangeas.

Uses in Your Garden

Grow the Phantom Hydrangea among other, earlier-flowering shrubs anywhere in your garden. Plant it as a specimen in a small garden – it will be in bloom longer than any other plant. Plant it in a large pot to bring flowers to your terrace, It can be grown as a bush, or trained up as a small tree, depending on what you need.

It grows easily in sun or partial shade, preferring some shade in hotter areas, so it is very useful for those shadier parts of the garden. It thrives in almost any kind of soil, if it is not too dry, or constantly wet . It has no significant pests or diseases. This vigorous plant is very, very easy to grow successfully – a great plant for the beginner gardener, and sure to please.

Size and Appearance

The Phantom Hydrangea is a fast-growing shrub that will soon reach 6 to 8 feet tall and almost as wide , depending on how it is pruned. This deciduous shrub has pale brown stems, with smooth bark on young stems, and rougher bark on older ones. The leaves are oval, about 6 inches long, with conspicuous teeth along the margin. The leaf is soft to the touch, and mid-green in color. In fall they turn bright yellow. They leaves are grouped in pairs or threes along the stems. New stems grow rapidly in spring, and soon you will see a cluster of tiny green flowers developing at the end of each stem. These expand steadily, and around the middle of July these will be large – up to 15 inches long.

The flower heads contain hundreds of flowers, and they sit upright on the ends of the stems. The individual flowers begin life as a delicate shade of green, but soon become pure white, with four or five petals. These enormous conical heads are stunning in the garden, and they last and last. Unlike older forms, the stems remain sturdily upright, holding those heads in the air, not letting them flop and break.

As the colder weather arrives in fall, a wonderful change begins. Gradually the white flowers become pale pink, and then darken with each colder day, until by late September they are deep pink. Even after that, as they die, the flowers keep their color, only gradually fading to soft beige. They can be left on the plant all winter, although many gardeners prefer to cut them, hang them upside down to dry, and use them in the house for decoration all winter long.

Care and Maintenance

The only care needed for the Phantom Hydrangea is pruning in late winter, just before the new growth begins . It can be pruned three different ways. If you simply remove the old flower stems back to the first green buds, you will have many flowers clusters of a slightly smaller size. If you cut the stems back more, leaving 4 pairs of buds, the flowers will be larger, but not quite so numerous. If you want the biggest heads and the most spectacular show, then cut back to just 2 pairs of buds. The resulting stems will be several feet long, with enormous panicles held proudly upright – a spectacular display in your garden.

History and Origins of the Phantom Hydrangea

The Panicle Hydrangea (hydrangea paniculata), is native to south-eastern parts of China, and it also grows in Korea, Japan and eastern Russia. It has been grown in Europe and America as a garden plant for many years, but the traditional forms, like the PG Hydrangea, called ‘Paniculata’ have problems holding up their stems, so plant breeders got to work. The variety called ‘Phantom’ was developed in the Dutch town of Boskoop, a center for plant growing, by Peter Zwijnenburg Jr. in 1990.

Phantom Hydrangeas quickly took off as a vast improvement and replacement for ‘Paniculata’, which it replaces. This variety has been grown widely in Europe for several years, but it is only recently arrived in North America. Gardeners are excited to replace their PG bushes, or to grow this wonderful shrub in their gardens. Our stock will not last long, so order now and grow the best, while we can still satisfy your order.

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  1. How To Prune Phantom Hydrangea

    For optimal results, trim "Phantom" back severely each year to a height of about 30 cm above the ground, then mulch with a thick layer of thoroughly decayed organic waste. When planted in a mixed herbaceous border, particularly with other hydrangeas, "Phantom" thrives. Phantom hydrangeas need to be clipped when, exactly?

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    Light Place your Phantom Hydrangea in a sunny location. Sunlight will ensure vivid blooms and enhance production. However, if you live in a hot region, you might have to provide your plant with some protection from the afternoon sun rays that might scorch its leaves.

  3. How to Prune a Hydrangea Tree

    J.Y. Simard Answer Sure you can prune it, but to understand how and why, it is worth explaining what a hydrangea tree is. Tree form Pinky Winky hydrangea. This cultivar is less prone to floppy branches than others. Photo: A Real Shrub With a Radical Bod Mod

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    For most species, pruning should be done when the tree is dormant, which usually occurs between late fall and early spring, depending on where you live. In addition, each species has its own specific pruning needs. For example, some are best pruned in early spring, while others should be pruned later in the season (typically after they flower).

  5. How And When To Prune Hydrangea Trees

    Start with the basic housecleaning type of pruning, removing sucker shoots that grow in around the plant base, then trim off any shoots appearing on the lower part of the trunk. A hydrangea tree looks best with one trunk, a trunk that is bare up to where the canopy begins.

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    Product Details Shipping Reviews Growing guide The giant, densely packed, conical blooms of the award-winning 'Phantom' Hydrangea paniculata measure up to 15", and they're held upright on strong stems that prevent flopping. The flowers emerge creamy white, turn to sweet pink as summer evolves, then become dark pink for fall.

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    The ideal time to prune them is anytime after they finish blooming until early spring. As the blooms mature they turn a beautiful pink color. Bloom time is July through September. New: Video Reveals a Simple Way to Root Plants from Cuttings (Watch Now!) Phantom Hydrangea fall color. Phantom loves full sun and will tolerate partial shade.

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    If the soil has high acidity, then it is recommended to deoxidate it with the dolomite flour or lime. You can start planting when the soil placed in the planting hollow becomes compact. You must place the cuttings the way, that gives the opportunity to the root solar to being on one level with the soil surface.

  10. Phantom Hydrangea

    $29.99 (No reviews yet) Write a Review Availability : Out of Stock Container Size: (Required) More Info #1 Container #3 Container Warranty: More Info Plant Addicts Warranty (Free) More Info Add-On - 1 Year Extended Warranty (10% Additional) More Info Add to Wish List Growing Zone: Planting in: - Contact Us Plant Care Account Cart Bushes Perennials

  11. Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom'

    Best if pruned back in late winter or early spring. Blooms occur on the current season's growth, ensuring reliable flowering. Hydrangea paniculata species is native to southern and eastern China, Korea, Japan, and Russia. Foliage can aggravate skin allergies. Mild stomach upset is possible if ingested. Toxic to dogs, toxic to cats, toxic to horses.

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    For best results, prune back 'Phantom' back hard to around 30cm above ground level each year, and mulch with a thick layer of well-rotted organic matter. 'Phantom' is perfect for growing in a mixed herbaceous border, especially among other hydrangeas. Find out more: How to grow hydrangeas How to prune hydrangeas Plant calendar

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    It can be pruned at any time of the year except when blooms are forming on the tips of the branches in early to mid-summer. Bloom formation is easy to see if one looks carefully, even in the early stages. These trees can be left to grow naturally, or they may be pruned to control their shape.

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    You can prune this particular variety during the fall, winter, or spring but you do not have to prune them on an annual basis. It is better that you trim out certain crossing branches so that they don't layer on top of one another and creates an unattractive form as they get older. How to prune hydrangea paniculata

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    The first step to pruning Annabelle Hydrangeas is to remove discolored flowers and damaged stems during the fall. Also, remove all plant branches crossing each other or growing horizontally to prevent wound rubbing and maintain a tall structure. Pare down around ⅓ of the plant's oldest stems to the healthiest bud growth during late winter to ...

  18. How to Prune Hydrangeas

    Prune away select branches all the way to ground level or to a main stem, but make sure to retain some healthy branches to avoid losing all the flowers. A bigleaf hydrangea can be pruned back by one-third of its total mass, but harsher pruning will weaken the shrub and cause it to languish for a season or two.

  19. How to Prune Hydrangeas in 3 Simple Steps

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    Bloom on new wood: prune in late winter or early spring. You may not need to prune panicle hydrangeas every season. If they seem overgrown or floppy, especially after a hard rain, pruning will tune them up. Take off up to 30%-50% of the old growth, before they leaf out, to create a roundish shape. Pictured left: Candy Apple™ Panicle Hydrangea.

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  23. Phantom Hydrangea For Sale Online

    Description. The Phantom Hydrangea is a new-generation replacement for the old PG Hydrangea - even more beautiful, and with stems that stay upright and never flop over. The huge panicles of pure-white flowers are up to 15 inches long, with hundreds of flowers in them. They sit atop the branches of a shrub that rapidly grow to 6 or 8 feet tall ...

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