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Lyn Plant-Wells

I have a similar problem to last year - it is now worse!  I moved to my present small house in August 2 years ago. In the front (small gravelled area) there was a lacecap hydrangea under my kitchen window, which was fairly compact with no flowers. The following year it bore beautiful white/pale blueish lavender flowers and had become quite large. I pruned it as advised - in Spring above a bud. The buds were quite high on the stems. This year it has become enormous and is almost blocking my kitchen window.

I would prefer not to sacrifice the lovely flower heads but it is really just too big. The stems are very long and spreading outwards as well as up. I really cannot dig it out - I just want to reduce the size!  I would like to do this when it has finished flowering if possible as it is taking up so much room and starting to look messy/untidy. Any suggestions please? 


Hi Lyn, you can cut it right back hard (in early Spring) if you wish and it will come back but won't then flower until the following year.  The normal method is to remove two or three stems completely each year so there is always fresh growth coming from the base which will flower the following year.

Steve the Gardening Vet

I have two and one was ridiculous, I chopped it to the ground in spring and it is now a 4' green, healthy but flowerless ball again and next spring I will cut it back to side buds so that it flowers.

Steve the Gardening Vet

I did remove a third one earlier this year and it had quite shallow if persistent roots so only took twenty minutes to remove. Replaced it with a Sarcococcus so no bald sticks outside our back door in winter from now on. Instead, vanilla scented flowers!

Lyn Plant-Wells

Thanks Bob and Steve. I will cut it back and put up with no flowers next year. If it still becomes a problem I may have it taken out - which I am reluctant to do as it really is a picture when it's in flower. Would cutting it back after flowering have a disastrous effect?

I just wish I had a bigger garden!  Can you get dwarf Hydrangeas?


Steve the Gardening Vet

They are pretty bombproof. When I was a novice, I chopped mine back hard after flowering and they still survived but I am in Surrey and the garden is fairly sheltered. The theory is that leaving the flowers and stems in place helps protect the base. 

I had never heard of hydrangea poisoning, after eating an apple after pruning a hydrangea and then vomiting profusely, a kind japanese friend  told me about it - so be careful, and keep cuttings away from animals!

Lyn Plant-Wells

Thanks guys. I think I will cut it back when the flowers have died off (I will be careful about the cuttings - especially as I will be getting a Cavalier puppy in November.) Thankfully, I live in a relatively mild area (south coast-New Forest) but will protect the roots if we get another hard winter.


i don't think poisoning is too big a problem, there have been a lot of hydrangeas grown over time and people still growing them. 

Lyn Plant-Wells

I think it's the cuttings one has to be careful with - there are quite a few plants which have a toxic element, especially when cut. Apparently, common Primulas are amongst these - if you have a cut or graze which comes into contact with the sap. Cuckoo Pint is another and despite their popularity I know that Laburnum is especially dangerous to animals.  

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