How to Prune a Limelight Hydrangea


Follow these best practices to prune your limelight hydrangea and keep it healthy and looking its best.

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Pruning Basics

Pruning is essential for the health and vigor of your limelight hydrangea. It helps to remove old and diseased wood, increase air circulation, and encourage new growth. It can be done in the spring or fall, but it’s best to prune in the fall so that the plant has time to recover before winter.


Pruning time is important for two reasons: First, different types of pruning produce different results; and second, timing affects the rate of regrowth.

Most hydrangeas—includingAnnabelle, Forever & Ever®, Ladies Mantle, Penny Mac®, and V4®—should be pruned in late winter to early spring, before new growth begins. The time to prune panicle hydrangeas (Akari®, Bobo®, Diabolo®, Pinky Winky™, Vanilla Strawberry™), bigleaf hydrangeas ( Arnold Promise®, Blue Danube™, Blue Wave®, Endless Summer®, oakleaf hydrangeas (Alice™, Burgundy Lace™, Snowflake™)), and climbing hydrangeas (Petiolaris sp.) is immediately after flowering.


Before you prune your limelight hydrangea, you’ll need to gather a few tools. You’ll need pruning shears, gloves and a garbage can or compost bin. It’s important to sterilize your pruning shears before you get started. You can do this by wiping them down with rubbing alcohol. This will help to prevent the spread of disease.

Once you have your tools gathered, you’re ready to begin pruning.

Pruning a Limelight Hydrangea

Pruning a limelight hydrangea is important to keep the plant healthy and encourage new growth. You should prune your limelight hydrangea in late winter or early spring. Follow these steps to prune your limelight hydrangea.

Start with a young plant

Pruning a limelight hydrangea is best done when the plant is young. You can certainly prune an older plant, but it will never look quite the same as a plant that has been pruned from the start. To prune a young limelight hydrangea, start by removing any dead or damaged branches. Next, cut back any branches that are growing inwards towards the center of the plant. Finally, cut back any branches that are longer than you would like them to be. Remember to make your cuts at a 45 degree angle so that rainwater can easily run off of them.

Remove spent blooms

Pruning a limelight hydrangea is easy and necessary to maintain the plant’s vigor and promote new growth. Each year, after the plant has flowered, remove all of the spent blooms. This includes both the flower heads and the stems that they are attached to. Use sharp, clean pruning shears to make clean cuts as close to the base of the plant as possible.

Cut back to live wood

Pruning a limelight hydrangea is best done in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. You can cut back the shoots to any length, but for the most compact growth, cut them back to about 6 inches (15 cm). Cut just above a bud that is pointing in the direction you want the new shoot to grow.

More Advanced Pruning

After the blooming period, you’ll want to cut back the stems of your Limelight Hydrangea by about one-third their length. This type of pruning is called “heading back.” Heading back encourages the plant to produce new growth, which will result in more flowers.

Size reduction

Size reduction is usually done in late winter or early spring, before the plant breaks dormancy and begins to grow. To reduce the size of a limelight hydrangea, start by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged wood. Then, cut back the remaining stems by about one-third to one-half their length. When pruning limelight hydrangeas, make your cuts just above an outward facing bud or leaf node. This will encourage the plant to produce new growth in the desired direction.


Hydrangeas are fast-growing shrubs. To keep them compact and full, annual shaping is necessary. The best time to shape a limelight hydrangea is right after it finishes blooming. As you prune, be sure to make cuts at the right place.

First, find the bud eyes—these are small, round nodules on the stems that will produce new growth in the spring. Make your cuts just above an outward-facing bud eye (ones that face away from the center of the plant). This will ensure that new growth emerges in the desired direction.

Next, remove any dead or damaged stems all the way back to healthy wood. Finally, prune any crossing or rubbing branches so that they don’t damage each other as they grow.

Revitalizing an overgrown plant

To revitalize an overgrown plant, remove up to one-third of the oldest stems at ground level. This will encourage new growth. Then, prune the remaining stems by one-third to one-half.

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