Should You Deadhead Hydrangeas? Here’s the Scoop!

Hydrangeas are a true showstopper with their stunning flower globes and beautiful hues. Shrub and climbing varieties grow well in group settings and on their own. Unfortunately, they aren’t immortal, and you’ll encounter brown blooms in time.

You should deadhead your hydrangeas if you want them to have a clean appearance and healthier blooms. Deadheading isn’t necessary but preferred. Without this practice, vital plant nutrients will go to dead flowers, and your hydrangea’s health will dip.

In this article, I will explain how hydrangeas benefit from deadheading. You’ll also find the best time to deadhead hydrangeas in your US state and be armed with the steps you need to do this easy gardening task.

Is It Necessary To Deadhead Hydrangeas?

Deadheading hydrangeas aren’t necessary. If your hydrangeas have dead flowers, you can decide whether you want to do this or not. You won’t damage your hydrangeas if you cut their heads off. Likewise, not deadheading your hydrangeas won’t have a negative effect on them.

However, doing it will benefit your plants! If you follow the correct steps and deadhead your hydrangeas at the right time, they’ll be and look healthy.

The Best Time To Deadhead Hydrangeas in Different Regions

You can deadhead your hydrangeas any time of the year, but some seasons deliver better results. Preferably, it would help if you stopped when the last flowers bloom before winter comes.

Hydrangeas thrive in hardiness zone 3 to 9 states. The states with the best season lengths for deadheading hydrangeas are:

  • Wisconsin.
  • Minnesota.
  • Nebraska.
  • Arizona.
  • Virginia.
  • New Mexico.
  • Utah, California.
  • Colorado.
  • Texas.
  • Alabama.

Deadheading Hydrangeas in Zone 3

The smooth and panicle hydrangea variants are hardy to the cold weather and frost typically experienced in hardiness zone 3.

These regions offer a short growing period before the long-lasting frost in winter. Deadheading your hydrangeas between the first and last frost dates is best.

The first frost date is in the middle of September, and the last is in the middle of May. The months left for deadheading your hydrangeas stretch from the end of May to the beginning of September.

Deadheading hydrangeas in Zone 3 is a tricky business. The temperatures get extremely low, and frost delays new flowers. Remember this when you consider deadheading your hydrangeas.

Zone 3 states include:

  • Alaska.
  • Maine.
  • New Hampshire.
  • North Dakota.
  • Wisconsin.
  • Idaho.

Deadheading Hydrangeas in Zone 4

One of the hydrangeas that thrive in Zone 4 is the climbing variant. The temperatures in this zone don’t go as low as those in zone 3, but the winters are still freezing.

The growing period is also a little longer, allowing climbing hydrangeas to root before the first frost properly. The first frost date in Zone 4 is around the 15th of September.

This can be delayed, making the last possible date for the first frost at the beginning of October. The last frost could come knocking from the 15th of May to the 1st of June.

You should always leave your flowers intact on the first few frost days. If you deadhead your hydrangeas right before the winter, their stems will be exposed to cold temperatures. Only deadhead your plants from the beginning of June to the beginning of September.

Zone 4 states include:

  • Arizona.
  • Iowa.
  • Minnesota.
  • Nebraska.
  • New Mexico.
  • Oregon.

Deadheading Hydrangeas in Zone 5

Two hydrangea variants that grow well in Zone 5 are the oakleaf and mountain species. All others that are hardy to zone 3 and 4 can also be grown in these regions.

Zone 5 has a longer growing season than zones 1 to 4, and 32 US states fall in this region. The first frost date occurs around the 15th of October, while the last frost falls on the 15h of May.

You should deadhead your hydrangeas between October and May.

Zone 5 states include:

  • Kansas.
  • Massachusetts.
  • North Carolina.
  • Pennsylvania.
  • Washington.

Deadheading Hydrangeas in Zones 6 to 9

Zone 6 to 9 are ideal for any hydrangea species. They’re all hardy to the extreme temperatures in these regions.

You can deadhead your hydrangeas anytime between April and October if you’re in zone 6 or 7. By this time, the winter has passed, and there’ll be no frost in sight.

If you’re in zone 8, you can expect the first frost around the middle of October. The last frost will be at the end of March. You should deadhead your hydrangeas between March and October.

Zone 9 has the longest growing season of them all. You only need to keep an eye out for frost from December to February. It’s safe to deadhead your hydrangeas during the remaining months.

Zone 6 to 9 states include:

  • Rhode Island.
  • Michigan.
  • Oklahoma.
  • Texas.
  • Kentucky.
  • Illinois.
  • Maryland.
  • Alabama.
  • Florida.
  • Hawaii.
  • Nevada.

States in zones lower than 3 and higher than 9 cannot provide ideal temperatures for healthy hydrangea growth. The temperatures they experience are too low and too high. Some hydrangeas might even struggle in zone 8.

When and How To Deadhead Hydrangeas

Deadheading hydrangeas are pretty straightforward. Anyone can do it, and you require no special skills or training. You also don’t need special equipment.

The Best Time To Deadhead Hydrangeas

It’s important to deadhead your hydrangeas once their flowers turn brown. If you wait too long, they’ll start producing seeds and drain energy from the healthy parts of your plant.

Plant roots systematically send nutrients to new seeds producing flowerheads. Feeding a dead flower’s seeds is pointless, and your healthy flowers will be deprived of food while this happens.

If you like the vintage aesthetic of dead flowers in a winter garden, you can leave your hydrangeas to turn completely brown.

The more you deadhead your hydrangeas, the healthier they’ll look and be! New flowers will start growing sooner, and the stems will have a constant flow of nutrients.

How To Deadhead Hydrangeas in 3 Steps

Deadheading is precisely what the name suggests: cutting off dead heads on your plants. In this case, the head of your hydrangea is its flower. Using your hand or a sharp object, you should cut the globe of your hydrangea off just beneath its leaves.

What you’ll need:

  • Pruning Shears
  • Gardening Gloves
  • Bag or Bucket

If you don’t have pruning shears, you can use your hands. Ensure you have gloves on!

Here’s how to deadhead your hydrangeas:

  • Step 1: Identify the dead flowers on your hydrangeas by looking for brown spots.
  • Step 2: Use your hand to separate the dead flowers from the rest of the plant. You should see the plant stem clearly. Hydrangeas also have big leaves that mark where you should be cutting them.
  • Step 3: Use your pruning shears to cut just above the stem, right where it meets the first leaves of the flower. You should aim for a clean break if you’re using your hands.

Note: Use your bag or bucket to collect all the flowers you remove for easy cleanup!

Don’t cut too high or too low. The stems should stay intact to produce new flowers. If you follow these steps carefully, your hydrangeas will look great all year round!

The Benefits of Deadheading Hydrangeas

Removing dead flowers from any plant has multiple benefits. If you decide to deadhead your hydrangeas, your plant will stay healthier, and the chore can help you relax too!

Deadheading Controls Seed Spread

Once hydrangeas turn brown, they start forming new seeds. Deadheading your flowers early on can prevent seed formation and keep them from taking over your garden. This will help you control the volume of plants you have.

Deadheading Encourages Healthy Growth

Deadheading hydrangeas will encourage them to grow back even healthier than before. You’ll notice fuller blooms and an extended blooming period. Your plant will use all its energy to develop better plants to set seeds.

Deadheading Helps With Aesthetics

The primary reason for planting a colorful garden is to create a specific aesthetic. Dead flowers can quickly turn a cheerful garden gloomy. Deadheading will improve the appearance of your hydrangeas and garden in general.

5 Fast Facts About Hydrangeas!

  • Hydrangeas flower in hues of blue, purple, white, and pink. Each color has a different meaning and is determined by the pH balance of your soil.
  • The oakleaf hydrangea is the official state wildflower of Alabama.
  • Buddhists use hydrangeas for cleansing and healing purposes.
  • Drying hydrangeas out can extend their indoor lifetime by 12 months!
  • Hydrangeas produce allergy-safe pollen, making them perfect for people with allergies. 

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Final Words

Deadheading your hydrangeas won’t prevent them from turning brown. This practice isn’t necessary, and many gardeners choose to not do it. However, it can benefit your plants.

Hydrangeas can be pretty hardy towards extreme temperatures, but they aren’t immune. Your beautiful blue or purple globes will start dying if their planting conditions aren’t ideal, the weather acts up, or it’s just their time.

Deadheading will encourage your plant to develop new flowers more quickly. If you follow the right steps and deadhead your hydrangeas frequently, you’ll be rewarded with healthier, fuller flower heads for your garden!

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