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How to Prune a Limelight Hydrangea

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."

Prune Limelight Hydrangea?

A vigorous shrub that can mature at 6 to 10 feet tall and 5 to 8 feet wide, Limelight hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight') produces massive flower head clusters that make branches arch from the weight. The flowers appear in summer, first a light greenish cream and aging to creamy white. Schedule pruning in late winter or very early spring. Dead or broken branches may be pruned off any time of year. If your Limelight hydrangea grows quite large, a reductive pruning each spring may help control the size by summer's end. Pruning in summer during or after flowering to harvest flower heads may also be done on Limelight hydrangea shrubs. You can thin out or correct the pruning imbalance at the end of winter before the shrub starts growth again.

Tip

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.

Warning

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.

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