Shrubs that flower later in the season are hard to come by, even more when you need something that is not too big, for a smaller garden, or to fill some spaces in a larger one. So we were really excited when we first saw the Little Lime Hydrangea. Not only did this shrub grow to only 3 to 5 feet tall – a perfect fit for a small garden, but it was absolutely smothered in bloom from July to September – three continuous months of blooming. That much bloom period on a small shrub makes it a real work-horse in the smaller, urban garden, where every plant has to earn its keep – so no room for something that looks nice just one week of the year.
Not only that, we soon discovered that this was a four-blooms-in-one shrub. When the flowers first emerged from between the attractive rich green glossy leaves, they are a beautiful and fashionable pale lime-green color. As they develop they become almost pure white. Then as the first cool nights of fall begin they turn pink, and finally, with greater cold, they turn burgundy. When we saw this we just knew that the Little Lime Hydrangea was a real winner.
Growing Little Lime Hydrangeas
Gardeners everywhere love hydrangeas, but if you garden in areas colder than zone 5 your choices are pretty limited. Cold-area gardeners often grow the PG Hydrangea, but that is a large shrub that will grow far too large for a smaller garden. However, the Little Lime Hydrangea is hardy right down to minus 40 degrees, so there really is nowhere in America so cold this plant will not grow. It will also grow well everywhere else too, so everyone can now enjoy this great shrub, no matter where you live.
Size and Appearance
The Little Lime Hydrangea grows into a dense shrub 3 to 5 feet tall and about the same across. The flowers are mop-shaped, not conical like its parents, and they are about 5 inches across and 4 inches deep, looking a lot like the flowers on the mophead hydrangeas that grow so well in warmer areas. The leaves are about 2 ½ inches long, rich green in color with attractive soft serrations along the edges of the oval foliage.
Using the Flowers as Decorations
As if three months of bloom outdoors was not enough, you can cut branches of the Little Lime Hydrangea at any color stage, strip off the leaves and hang them upside down for the flowers to dry. Once dry they can be used around the house for decoration that will last for months and months – even years – bringing color indoors during the long winter and reminding you of the promise of spring and summer to come.
Pruning and Maintenance
Unlike other panicle hydrangeas this one does not need the elaborate pruning required for most other forms – just remove any thin, twiggy growth in late winter, before the leaves start to emerge, and shorten back the stems a little. This plant has no significant pests and diseases, so it really is a low-maintenance shrub perfectly suited for a modern, urban garden.
Uses in Your Garden
It can be planted as a single plant, as a group of three, or mass-planted in semi-shaded areas for great summer and fall interest. If you live in a colder area we recommend planting this shrub behind plants of the Endless Summer Hydrangea, the only true mop-headed hydrangea that will survive minus 30 degrees and bloom pink or blue, depending on your soil. This really is a winning combination for a semi-shade area – lime green blended with pink or blue.
History and Origins of the Little Lime Hydrangea
The Little Lime Hydrangea is a new plant, derived from a special breeding program in Grand Haven, Michigan, in 2005. Breeders took the Limelight Hydrangea, which is already a great shrub, but grows to about 8 feet tall, and crossed it with other forms of Hydrangea paniculata, to produce this winning seedling. It was immediately recognized as something really special, and it was patented in 2011. Because this plant is patented it can only be grown by selected growers, and our plants are produced the correct way, from carefully chosen stem pieces rooted by experts. No other plant matches the Little Lime Hydrangea, so beware of cheaper plants without that special name.