Answer: Hydrangea macrophylla 'Merritt's Beauty' produces flowering stems on old wood so you don't want to prune too drastically or there won't be any old wood for the new shoots to develop from. You can safely prune your plant down to 12-18" from the ground. This will provide plenty of room for new shoots to grow in the spring; each new shoot should produce a huge flower head. I leave my hydrangeas alone all summer, fall and winter, pruning them back in early spring, just as leaf buds begin to swell. Cut them down to knee level, removing any old stems that have turned gray, but preserving those that are healthy. New growth will fill in the shrub in no time. Best wishes with your hydrangea.
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