Q.When And How Should My Hydrangeas Be Pruned For The Cold Weather?
I live in Southern Illinois, just about 50 miles north of Paducah KY. I only have 3 0r 4 bushes of varying sizes and only one (the largest one) bloomed this year. Some buds are now forming but probably won’t make it before frost arrives – next couple of weeks.
It depends on the type of hydrangeas that you have, winters where you live, how much snow they get, etc. Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood should not be pruned now. Hydrangeas that bloom on new wood (smooth hydrangeas and paniculatas/Pee Gees) can be pruned now but should normally not be pruned as some cultivars are prone to flopping and new stems flop more than older, woodier stems do.
If the stems typically get killed by winter in your location or if the stems are normally bent/damaged by lots of snow, you can prune the stems in late winter. I would hesitate to prune now as pruning triggers new growth and that new growth may get zapped by early frosts/freezes.
If you planted the hydrangeas where they can attain their estimated size at maturity, little pruning will be needed: (1) cut all the way down those stems that do not leaf out by the end of May; (2) deadhead spent, browned-out blooms at any time (cut the peduncle string that connects the bloom to the stem) and prune bent, diseased, dead stems.
I typically leave spent blooms on the plants and let Mother Nature deadhead them.
I hope you get a few late blooms from late opening flower buds (I assume that is what you meant by “buds” although my hydrangeas now also have leaf buds at the tips of the stems). Your average date of early frosts is the first week in November.