Published on 02/18/10

Hydrangea adds limelight to gardens

By Gary L. Wade

Light up your landscape with Limelight Panicle Hydrangea, the 2010 Georgia Gold Medal deciduous shrub winner. Its large, chartreuse flower clusters set the summer landscape aglow and are sure to be the envy of neighbors and friends.

Limelight Panicle Hydrangea is a large deciduous shrub, growing 6 to 8 feet tall with an equal spread. Plant it in groups of three to five in the background of a perennial border for a spectacular summer show. It also looks nice in a large pot as the focal point on a patio or deck.

This hydrangea prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil. In central and south Georgia, a site with morning sun and afternoon shade would be ideal. Be prepared to provide irrigation during periods of limited rainfall.

In July, creamy white flower clusters up to 8 inches across emerge on strong, upright stems. As flower clusters mature, their color changes to chartreuse, fades to rosy pink by fall and becomes beige in winter. They can be harvested fresh or dried and used in floral arrangements. If left on the plant, they will persist all winter on the tips of naked stems.

Leaves are oval in shape, up to 4 inches long and have toothed margins. They fade to attractive shades of red in the fall.

Unlike some other shrub-form hydrangeas (such as oakleaf and bigleaf hydrangeas that bloom on old wood and are pruned right after flowering), Limelight Hydrangea blooms on new growth. It can be pruned in late winter or early spring. Cutting back the stems to within 6 to 8 inches of ground level will encourage compact growth and strong new shoots.

Limelight hydrangea can be propagated from root or stem cuttings in the summer. However, the plant is patented, so only licensed growers can propagate it for sale.

Gary Wade is a Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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