Friday, September 13, 2013

Limelight Love!

Those that know me know I am a hydrangea fan. No garden flower is more showy than a hydrangea bloom-even the fancy roses can't top them so I love hydrangeas. And I don't think any hydrangea bloom is more beautiful than that of the 'Limelight'  hydrangea (except all the other hydrangeas when they are in bloom)! The 'Limelight' hydrangeas have been in bloom for more than a month now and I am so loving the very flashy view from my back deck.
'Limelight' hydrangeas are Hydrangea paniculata type hydrangeas. In this group there are several good cultivars, many of which I grow. I have nearly 100 hydrangeas growing in my garden but none give me the show that these massed 'Limelights' do. My trick to grow them so well is to site them correctly and to prune correctly. This year I learned something new about pruning Limelights. I will now share that lesson with you. 

All paniculata type hydrangeas should be pruned in early spring because they flower on new growth. If you allow paniculata type hydrangeas to grow without any pruning you will soon get a very woody and long leggy shrub with few blooms. I know this personally because this happened to me with my 'Tardiva' paniculata hydrangea. I am surprised it even bloomed this year but it did. That is another lesson for you; paniculatas are very forgiving if you prune them improperly. 

I pruned all seven of the above 'Limelights' back in March. I don't pick a certain height to prune them to; instead I look at where the branching occurs and how I want my shrub to grow and cut at that point. The older the shrub the taller you might want to leave it. I think I initially cut these down to about three feet in March. Once things warmed up they happily sprouted new branches at the pruned points and began growing. They grew so well and so much that I felt like maybe they needed another round of pruning. I did this pruning in June. Basically I cut the new growth down by half again. At the time of pruning there were no buds visible and I thought that even though I cut the shrubs again that they would still have a chance to grow and bloom. I did not prune cut all of the new branches. I left a lot of branches without cuts preferring instead to prune the very large shrubs back from my pathway and I left the new growth of the rest of the hydrangea alone where it was not interfering with anything. You can see the pathway in the above picture. I mainly focused my June pruning hydrangeas on the right side of the path.

Boy did I get a surprise by this June pruning! The branches I pruned in June bloomed a bit later than the branches that were pruned in March but what actually happened was I was able to extend the bloom season more than six weeks so far and they are still going strong. Another notable difference between the March and June prunings is the March pruned limbs produced blooms as large as one foot long! The June pruned branches produced smaller but more blooms. When all massed together the effect is stunning. I have many blooms that are turning their customary chartreuse while many other blooms are just now coming into bloom. You can clearly see this in the first picture. The hydrangeas closest to the camera are the right side hydrangeas that were June pruned. Do you see the variations in the colors? Some are chartreuse while some are pure white. The chartreuse blooms are the older blooms. They were March pruned. 
I have always loved hydrangeas. They are my favorite shrub because there are so many different kinds of them that you can have blooms from April through September. They are also a very romantic shrub that is flashy and shows well no matter where you site them. All of my hydrangeas receive part sun to mostly shade but if I had full sun they would be fine with it as long as the soil was kept moist-depending on type. The paniculata type hydrangeas such as the 'Limelights' and PGs are fine with full sun. Arborescen and oakleaf type hydrangeas can even do well in full sun but will need supplemental watering. I am always one to push the envelope so I try all sorts of conditions for not just my hydrangeas but all of my plants. If a plant does not do well in one spot I will move it. Since we purchased a farm I am in the process of moving my hydrangeas. So far the 'Limelights' have not been disturbed but will be moving this winter-all of them. I plan to site these very hydrangeas along my driveway to be. They will be 8-10' apart in a full sun location. I think the effect of hydrangeas lining a driveway is a good one and have designed my new garden to reflect that. The 'Limelights' are so special and bloom for such a long time that they will be closest to the house so I can enjoy Limelight love on the farm....

in the garden....

Farmer Fix-it and I have been busy at work on the farm. Soon I'll be posting more and more posts about the projects we are accomplishing out there. While I have not completely abandoned my garden here I look at all the plants and picture them in another location now. It is hard for me to believe I would think that way but I actually thought it would be much harder to move than it has been. I am okay with it and am taking it one day at a time. Someday perhaps I'll look back at this post with love for those 'Limelights' because I honestly don't think I could ever have a better year than this year with them. Such is life. Things change, we change, and change can be good. It keeps us flexible and busy and striving for our dreams. I do hope all of your dreams come true...

in the garden.... 

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. I am totally in love with 'Limelight,' too! Thanks for these excellent tips on pruning them. I have been pruning mine just a little each spring, with the intention of making it more tree-like rather than a sprawling shrub. But I'm always a little hesitant, so I haven't pruned it as much as I should. It's still sprawling this fall, but gosh, the blooms are amazing and huge! I'm picturing your new driveway lined with 'Limelights'--it's going to be beautiful!

  2. Hydrangeas are new to me and I had no idea one had to prune them until now! You know that I am a stick it in the ground and learn as I go kind of gardener right? Ha, learn something new every day. Note to self: Lube up those pruners and have them ready next spring...

  3. I am such a hydrangea fan too : ) .. I did a post on how pretty Little Lamb was this year and I did experiment with pruning almost the same as you did !! and I found the same results .. the earlier pruned branches had BIG flowers while the later pruned ones around June were smaller , but all of them were so pretty and I liked the variety of large and small flowers.
    I have some of the smaller ones drying in my office in a vase and I love looking at them.
    I have Little Lime and it is really sweet .. your larger ones look gorgeous and your plans are going to be stunning !
    We never stop learning no matter how skilled or knowledgeable we think we are ... and that is a good thing because gardening humbles us at times .. and we need that to appreciate what a precious gift we have in a garden.
    Perfect Post !
    Joy : )

  4. I've never seen a limelight hydrangea in person, and to be honest, here in Virginia zone 7, I have trouble growing hydrangea. But I do love them -- the cool green color of your hydrangeas is very beautiful and refreshing. Thanks for sharing your photos and tips!

  5. Though I haven't grown Hydrangeas myself, I have seen pink and bluish versions of it in a forest while on a trip three years ago. Especially, the pink ones when in full bloom looked like bunches of candies when seen from a distance. I still can get that beautiful sight off my head - was so memorable. Your limelight look like white candies :D and stirred that lovely memory back. Thank you so much :)

  6. Thanks for the pruning advice. I have 'Little Lime' (2nd season) so I'll start pruning it next spring.

  7. A lovely post. I just love it. Your Limelight hydrangeas are so beautiful! I also love white hydrangeas and one of my hydrangeas is white but not Limelight. "Things change, we change, and change can be good. It keeps us flexible and busy and striving for our dreams." ← I like this part very much and totally agree with you!