Love the Limelights

lime6Hydrangea 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.

lime1The 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.  

lime2When 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.

lime3Their 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.   

lime4They 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.  

lime5They 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. 

lime7Luscious, aren’t they??


  1. I have three limelights in my front yard and I love them! You’re right–so easy, low maintenance!

  2. Hydrangeas of any color thrill me, but I especially love white ones! These ones are amazing!

  3. Kalamazoo Lynn says

    These are absolutely gorgeous! Thank you so much for your informative and beautiful blog!

  4. Our family is from the Azores Islands, Portuguese holdings in the middle of the Atlantic. Each island uses a different medium to fence their field boundaries. The island of Flores uses hydrangeas (Hortensia in Portuguese) as boundaries, fences, so to speak. In the highly acidic volcanic soils, they are bright blue all summer. It is gorgeous…

  5. Deborah (great name by the way)
    I had planned on expanding the “Annabelle” hydrangeas planted on the side of my house to a hedge, fronted by a boxwood hedge, but after seeing this post, I am going to change it to the Limelight. The flower shop where I work gets tons of these in as they are very long lasting in arrangements, and dry beautiful as well.
    Thanks for all your hard work on this blog, everything is amazing!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Deborah, thank you for your comments. I do so much enjoy hearing from readers. The Limelights are everything you could want in a great garden shrub, and a flower. Deborah

  6. Hello Deborah,

    I am so enamored with all the beautiful landscape pictures. I, a willing and new gardener, would like to transform our backyard like the third picture. Do you have any advice on where to start? Mind you, this will be a 5 year process with my restricted budget. Where should I start? Should I prepare the soil, add a sprinkler system, or should I just start planting? Thank you very much for these lovely pictures.


  7. Your pictures are breathtaking. I am in love with all white formal’ish gardens and yours is spectacular. I had given up the idea of a limelight hedge because I would be putting it against the side of my house that faces north. It is in dappled shade pretty much all day. It is a bright area–no trees, and the white wall that it is up against reflects sunlight, BUT the house prevents it from getting direct sunlight.

    Your pictures have made me LONG for that hedge once again… do you think limelights would stand a chance in a spot such as this?

    • Deborah Silver says

      I have seen plants do well when good sense would indicate they shouldn’t. Your white wall may help your situation a lot. I have a commercial client whose storefront is north facing-I plant sun loving annuals there all the time with success-the reflected light from cars and the street makes a big difference. You certainly have the option of trying one Limelight-and see how it does before investing in the whole length. There is no place for it on the south side?

  8. Thanks Deborah. I think I will do just that–try one and see. If I do end up going for a hedge, (if the one flourishes) how long would it take the others to ‘catch up’ to the one I start a season ahead? South side is a no-go. I only have about 4 ft. width tops to work with there because of my neighbor’s yard and a walkway. The north side is just empty space that is begging to be filled. Also, one more question: In the picture you have here of the container with white petunias, is that white nancy lamium you used as filler? Can you come to Cleveland and do my landscaping? LOL I don’t think I could afford you–you are fabulous. Thanks again for sharing your blog

    • Deborah Silver says

      What is in the middle of the space? Lawn? It is so hard to say, never having seen the space. In general, I try to work from the middle of a space to the edges, rather than from the edges to the middle. The filler plant with the petunias is variegated licorice-I use it a lot. Thanks so much for reading!

  9. Thanks Deborah. Here is a picture of the space at 10am in the morning:][IMG]

    If you do think limelight could possibly work here, would you stagger them in a slight zigzag, or plant in a straight line? How far apart for a hedge? Thank you again so much for taking the time to answer all of my questions! 🙂

  10. Here it is:][IMG]

    The boxwoods were just planted this past Summer and I’m hoping to have a short filled in hedge in the next couple of years. Mini hostas are planted in front of the boxwoods, and I plan to fill the planters with white annuals. Globemaster allium should be popping up in bunches along each side of the columns. The tree on the left is a Tardiva Hydrangea and the one on the right is a Kousa Dogwood. Thank you again so much for taking the time to look at this!

Leave a Comment