Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Prune a Limelight Hydrangea

By Dana Hall McCain ; Updated September 21, 2017

Limelight Hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) are among the more forgiving members of the hydrangea family with regard to pruning. These lush flowering shrubs bloom each year on new wood, so you can prune them almost anytime--except when they are setting flower buds in the spring and early summer--without fear of eliminating next year's blooms. Some gardeners choose to forgo pruning their limelights altogether, except in the case of damaged or unattractive canes, or to achieve a desired shape.

Cut your hydrangea canes back to about half to one third of its height if you prefer sturdier stems and smaller flowers. While this may produce slightly smaller blooms, the stems will probably be sturdy enough to support them without additional staking. Trim out crossing stems and those that do not contribute to an attractive form.

Cut hydrangea canes all the way back to the ground in the late fall or early spring if large flowers are your top priority. Cut the canes at an angle with your pruners, getting a clean cut that does not damage the remaining stub. The remaining stubs will be only a couple of inches above the ground.

Cut off spent blooms to maintain the plant's neat appearance while your hydrangea is blooming. Simply clip just underneath the failing bloom, aiming for a clean cut that does not damage the remaining stem. This is sometimes referred to as "deadheading."


Things You Will Need

  • Handheld pruners


  • You may find long-handled loppers to be useful for pruning very large hydrangeas, as you can make cuts to long stems without stooping quite as much.


  • Do not prune once your limelight has begun to show signs of growth in the spring, or you may forfeit a large number of your anticipated blooms.

About the Author


Dana Hall McCain is a freelance writer based in Dothan, Ala., and is a a regular contributor to numerous regional publications. She writes features and columns on a variety of topics, including the outdoors, faith and health/wellness. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Auburn University in public relations/communication in 1995.