Growing limelight hydrangeas is easy and so satisfying. The large, beautiful blooms can be cut, dried, and arranged to add a classic and natural touch to your decor.
Welcome to the ultimate guide on growing and caring for limelight hydrangeas! If you love gardening, or just adore beautiful blooms, you’re in the right place. Limelight hydrangeas, with their stunning lime-colored flowers, are a popular choice among seasoned and beginner gardeners alike. They add a classic and timeless touch to any landscape. The two things that set limelights apart from other hydrangea varieties are their enormous blooms, and how easy they are to grow.
When we lived on Sutton Place, I wanted to achieve and old fashioned, farmhouse-inspired feel to the front porch, so I planted three limelight hydrangeas in front of it. I honestly thought it would take several years to grow them tall enough to hide the foundation, but I was pleasantly surprised when they grew substantially the very first year. When we downsized to our current home, I was very happy that there were three limelight bushes in the front landscaping. So even though we moved, I didn’t have to give up my limelights!
Why You Should Grow Limelight Hydrangeas
- Their stunning lime-colored flowers add a touch of vibrancy to any outdoor area. Whether you’re looking to create a focal point in your garden, or want to enhance your existing flower beds, limelight hydrangeas are sure to make a statement with their gorgeous blooms.
- Limelights are versatile. They can be grown in borders, in cottage gardens, in front of architectural features, or in containers.
- Unlike some other hydrangea varieties, these shrubs are relatively easy to care for. They thrive in sun or shade, and are drought-tolerant.
- Limelight hydrangeas, scientifically known as Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight,’ are deciduous shrubs. (That means that they drop their leaves in the fall.) Buds appear in late June or early July, and the blooms begin as creamy white, and gradually turn to an amazing shade of lime green. Later in the season, they turn pink, and darken to burgundy.
- Limelights grow very tall, and can reach a height of 8 feet. Their dense foliage and bushy blooms make them the perfect choice for gardens and borders.
- Because limelights are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9a, they are perfect for a wide range of climates.
Light Requirements and Placement
When choosing a location for your limelight hydrangeas, consider a spot that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. While these hydrangeas don’t mind partial shade, they tend to produce more blooms and develop a brighter green color in full sun. Limelights grown in warmer zones can benefit from afternoon shade. Take into consideration their rapid growth when spacing them in your landscaping. Give them a little more room than you think they need.
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When it comes to watering, after the plants are established, a good rule of thumb is to give your plants a good watering once a week, providing enough water to saturate the roots and surrounding area. Cover the base of the plants with mulch to help retain moisture and keep the weeds away.
Pruning and Shaping
You can prune limelight hydrangeas in late winter or very early spring, before new growth emerges. They can also be pruned in the fall, after all the blooms are spent. Start by removing any dead, broken, or damaged branches. Then, prune back the remaining stems to about one-third of their original height. This will encourage new growth and result in a more compact and bushier plant.
When we lived on Sutton Place, after a couple of years, the limelights became very top heavy, and the blooms fell to the ground. That fall, I cut them back almost to the ground. It made me nervous, but I felt they needed a fresh start. The following spring, the branches were thicker, and the blooms were better positioned throughout the bushes. A hard pruning is a drastic measure, but in my case, it was very helpful.
It’s important to note that limelights bloom on new wood. So beware of pruning in the spring. If you cut off any new wood, you will be hindering bloom growth.
Limelights As Cut Flowers
Hydrangeas are the quintessential summer cut flower. The most popular varieties for cutting are Annabelle hydrangeas, Endless Summer, and Limelight hydrangeas. When cutting blooms to use in flower arrangements, cut as close to the root as possible, so you have a very long stem. Limelights are perfect on their own in a tall vase, but they blend beautifully with seeded eucalyptus, sunflowers, or zinnias. See how to make cut hydrangeas last longer HERE.
A Limelight Centerpiece
Using my thrift store ironstone tureen, the limelight centerpiece pictured above took just a few minutes to assemble. I made a grid in the tureen opening with florist tape, and then placed the blooms in the grid squares. The blooms were heavy, but with a little adjusting, they settled nicely into the tureen. To add height, I added stems of faux eucalyptus, and to provide interest and an extra layer, the tureen was placed on a handwoven serving tray.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, limelight hydrangeas can be grown in containers. Make sure the container has good drainage holes and use a high quality potting mix. Regular watering and fertilization are a must for container-grown hydrangeas.
Limelight hydrangeas benefit from regular feeding. Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring, following the package instructions. My favorite fertilizer, and one that has given good results, is Jack’s.
Unlike some other hydrangea varieties, the color of Limelight Hydrangea flowers cannot be changed by altering the soil pH. The lime-green color is a natural characteristic of this variety.
Yes! See my tips and advice in the section below.
Drying Limelight Hydrangeas
My best advice is to let Mother Nature do all the work. Let the blooms dry right on the bushes. They may weigh the branches down a bit, but as long as they are not lying on the ground, they are OK. It’s time to harvest when the blooms have deepened to a dark green, and they have started to turn pink. You will know the petals are dry enough when they develop a paper-like appearance.
If you prefer to cut the blooms and dry them inside, wait until very late summer. Cut them low on the bush, and place the stems in a tall pitcher or vase. They will naturally dry in place.
- Trim the stems of the dried hydrangeas to 3 – 4 inches long.
- Sort the blooms, biggest to smallest.
- Lay your wreath base on a flat surface.
- Using the punch to make a hole first, start placing the dried hydrangeas along the outside of the wreath. Using the smallest blooms, insert them at a slight angle, like the spokes of a wheel. This outside layer took 15 blooms.
- Continue inserting blooms at an angle on the top of the wreath. This layer used ten larger blooms.
- To finish, fill in any holes or empty spaces with the remainder of your blooms.
- Some blooms will stick out further than others, but that’s fine. This gives your wreath dimension, and adds to the beauty of a handmade item. Once the wreath is completely assembled, the blooms blend together beautifully.
Working with Dried Hydrangeas
Even though this dried hydrangea wreath was super easy, it was a little nerve-wracking. Go slowly, and if you break some stems, double-check that your holes are deep enough. The dried blooms will shed, so it’s a good idea to cover your work area with an old sheet. This is definitely time well spent, because when finished, you will have a handmade, one-of-a-kind, dried wreath for your front door. Tip: faux hydrangeas can also be used for this project.
I hope this has convinced you to try your hand at growing limelight hydrangeas. You might have noticed that the blooms grown at the Sutton Place house are much bigger than the blooms at our current home. I’m hoping that with careful pruning and fertilizer, the blooms here will become equally big and full.
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