Hydrangea looks dead


Hi there,

I have a 7-8 year old hydrangea (incrediball) in the south facing part of the house. Every year the plant has gotten bigger, has bloomed nicely and looks very lush. It gets full sun and I don’t usually water it much. This year, it’s either late in blooming or it’s dead (kind of). I’ve been observing it for a couple weeks and initially have noticed that there were buds coming in on the old branches. However, they kind of looks dried now and the buds haven’t grown any further. I usually cut off the dried flower heads during spring when a number of leaves have sprouted. This year I did it before the leaves came out but it seemed warm enough to do it. I do see some baby leaves sprouting from the base of the plant. So it doesn’t seem completely dead. So my question is, should I wait a bit more and if nothing happens, cut off all the branches to the base?

Thank you for your advice.


Your Incrediball hydrangea is starting to shoot up, and our advice would be to give it a little more time to begin its growth as this has been a rather cold spring.  The new growth comes from the base of the plant.  Now is the time to cut back last year’s dead branches – you can cut these down to about 6 inches from the soil.  This will allow air circulation and sun to reach the new growth.  Like the popular Annabelle, the Incrediball hydrangea blooms on new wood, so you don’t have to worry about cutting last year’s branches back and losing flower buds.

Here is a previous Toronto Master Gardeners post which takes a comprehensive look at pruning hydrangeas: https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/askagardener/pruning-hydrangeas/