Pruning Hydrangea Snowball

Pruning Hydrangea Snowball

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Snowball hydrangeas refer to a common nickname that describes the appearance of the plants. The Annabelle hydrangeas are typically referred to as snowball hydrangeas. It can also refer to a type of panicle hydrangea or the smooth leaf. Knowing when to prune is based upon whether the variety you have is going to produce new flowers on the old stems or the new stems.

What You Will Need

  • Hand pruners or Pruning shears
  • Bleach or rubbing alcohol
  • Mixing bowl and clean rag


  1. Clean tools with rag and rubbing alcohol or bleach.
  2. Cut flowers or branches where appropriate.
  3. Clean tools in between each cut.

How to prune hydrangea snowball

Pruning hydrangea snowball varieties is quite simple. It is best to prune the panicle hydrangea or Annabelle hydrangea  after they have bloomed in the summer. You want to do it anytime after the first freeze through the end of winter. At this point it is good for you to cut back any disease branches or dead branches but if you notice their appearance sooner, feel free to clip them off sooner.

When you prune the branches on your Annabelle variety of snowball hydrangea you want to cut it back between 4 and 10 in tall every year. By pruning the hydrangea closer to the ground you encourage larger flowers but more limited numbers. If you leave longer stems when you prune the hydrangea you will have more flowers but they will be smaller. If you are pruning a panicle hydrangea like the Limelight you want to cut it back to within 4 or 6 in from the main stem.

When cutting either, cut just above any of the new growth nodes on the stems in order to encourage better branching.

If you are pruning an old-growth bloomer of snowball hydrangea, particularly the smooth leaf varieties, you want to do it after they have finished blooming in summer or the beginning of fall. Never prune smooth leaf hydrangea after August. Cut back any dead branches you might see as soon as you see them. With this variety you can remove any flower heads once they start fading and you can cut back the shoots approximately one-third of their original length in order to encourage better branching.


The panicle and Annabelle varieties will respond better if you cut the shrub to the ground but it could take more than one season for the plants to get back to heavy flower production. The Annabelles in particular will produce flowers as usual if you cut it back to the ground over winter.

Make sure that you identify the exact variety you have in your garden before you start pruning so that you can make sure you prune your snowball hydrangea at the appropriate time of year.

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