Hydrangea Paniculata “Limelight” is a favorite shrub of mine,, as well it should be. It is extremely hardy (some say zone 3), and not particularly fussy about soil, or water. It is a robust, vigorous and willing grower. Add to this a long and spectacular season of bloom-this plant earns its keep.
The lime-white flowers emerge late in July for me. They look crisp and fresh at a time of the gardening year that in fact can be blazing hot and miserable. They have great dignity and presence in a formal garden, or they make a graceful backdrop for more delicate and late blooming perennials such as Russian Sage, bee balms, and hyssop, in more informal gardens.
When first coming into bloom, the plant and flowers are many shades of green, and white. Few shrubs provide so much interest. The flowers mature white, and bloom for an incredibly long time. Towards the end of their blooming period, they go pink-green, and rose pink; this stage is beautiful too. They make great cut flowers, and they dry beautifully. They clearly are at home in this formal landscape spilling onto the gravel as they are in a cottage style garden.
Their habit makes them easy to use in a formal garden, as well as an informal one. They stand up on their own; this habit of growth I really appreciate, as I am not fond of staking plants. Their habit has a lot to do with their genes; hydrangea paniculata has a naturally upright habit. I prune to top branches in early spring shorter that the side branches-ala a shag haircut. This permits light to reach the lower branches, and promotes blooms from top to bottom. Sometimes I prune very hard, if I am interested in keeping them smaller than their natural inclination to grow 6′-8′ tall. I have on occasion pruned them as short as 14″ off the ground, without any loss of bloom. I have read about a new paniculata variety called “White Diamonds”, which is reputed to only grow to 4 feet tall, but I have not seen it.
They make a magnificent hedge when left to their own devices. This client was interested in screening close to the house; this is a very showy solution.
They are willing bloomers with this eastern exposure, but I have planted them in full sun with just as good results. I do try to plant them in soil with a good percentage of organic material, as they do like even moisture. I do not always site plants perfectly-that’s a normal thing, to have to move things around until they have exactly what they want. But I have seen very few limelights performing poorly, even though I see them in lots of different situations.
Luscious, aren’t they??