As the seasons turn, different plants take center stage in my garden. Midsummer can be tough here in the Deep South, but while many plants are retreating from the heat, Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' becomes a garden stand out.
Limelight's cone shaped blooms open creamy white to chartreuse. A feature of my hydrangea walk, Limelight is also visible from the kitchen and from the patio.I love the blooms that glow in the golden sunshine of late afternoon. Six to twelve inches long, the flower heads are held upright on sturdy stems. The blooms will persist well into autumn, and as that season advances many of the blooms will take on multiple shades of pink, mingling beautifully with other blooms that still retain their green tints. The color, unlike many hydrangeas, is not dependent on soil pH.
Limelight is a large shrub. Mine is about four years old, and I prune it every year. The last two years it easily grew to eight feet tall and wide after pruning. I wonder just how large it would grow if I didn't cut it back! (A dwarf form, Little Lime, will grow up to five feet.) The blooms form on new wood, so pruning should be done in late fall through early spring. It isn't necessary to prune it every year, but pruning Limelight a third to a half will result in larger blooms.
Limelight likes good loamy soil, but it is adaptable. In spring I fertilize with an organic slow-release fertilizer. Then in midsummer I give it a shot of fish emulsion, one quarter cup per five gallons of water combined with epsom salts, one cup per five gallons of water, as a natural pick-me-up.
Mine gets morning sun and filtered afternoon shade. I think in cooler climates it would do fine in full sun. Limelight tolerates hot, humid conditions, but it will wilt in intense heat and drought. Sometimes I do give it extra water, as I do all my hydrangeas; but generally, I consider this midsummer beauty an easy care shrub.