paniculata Limelight™ PP#12,874
This new Hydrangea is so amazing that it might as well be a whole new type of shrub! Not only is it much, MUCH cold-hardier than most -- happy all the way through zone 4 in the north! -- but its blooms open green and then progress through 4 different colors! And when the flowers finally stop arriving in fall, the foliage leaps into the limelight by turning bright red!
Limelight begins its show in early to midsummer, when plentiful flower clusters of rich chartreuse-to-lime arise all over the large shrub. As they mature, they first turn pure white, then darken to all shades of pink, finally settling on a rich rosy hue! Cut them at any point in the color show and they'll remain that shade, of course -- so you can get a 4-color bouquet from a single shrub, and a fully-blooming plant has every color present at once! Folks, Hydrangeas just don't do this -- Limelight is extraordinary!
Now, the flowers arise in big, fluffy domes packed with little florets, and when I tell you that these domes reach 8 inches across, you're just going to have to take my word. The most remarkable thing to me is not the size of each cluster but the NUMBER of them -- they dot this shrub like dewdrops at dawn! And they keep arising for months -- well into fall in most climates. Now that's flower power and then some!
But autumn turns out to be a big show no matter what the blooms are doing, because with the first really cold weather, the big, deep green leaves burnish bright red! When you take into consideration the size of this shrub -- 6 to 8 feet high and wide -- you can imagine what an attention-getting spectacle this is in the lightly shaded to sunny garden! (At this rate, the Japanese Maples will have to hide their heads!) And the last blooms dry beautifully right on the plant, so you can enjoy the highly unusual sight of dusty rose flowers on a bright red-leafed shrub!
Now, Limelight is more than a pretty face. It's easy to grow, and once established is one of the best choices for xeriscapic (water-saving) gardens. It also puts up with heat, humidity, poor soil, and a bunch of other annoyances. Just give it plenty of water the first year or two to get it feeling at home in your garden, then leave it be. You'll be astonished at how carefree and lovely it remains, year after year!
If you're looking for good things to plant around Limelight, the possibilities are limitless. I like the look of Daylilies, with flowers so different in shape and texture from the Hydrangea's. Phlox is also lovely for the first part of the months-long bloom season, while late-summer standouts such as Blanket Flower are ready to carry the show into fall.
Space these shrubs about 6 feet apart in sun to light shade. You are in for many years of unrivalled beauty from this exciting newcomer! Zones 4-6 in full sun/Zones 7-8 in part shade.
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- Color Adjustment
- How to Grow
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- Heat Tolerant
How to Adjust Hydrangea ColorHydrangeas may produce pink, blue, or lavender blooms, depending on where it’s planted and how it’s fed. The presence of aluminum in the plant ultimately determines the color, and pH affects the uptake of aluminum. Alkaline soils, pH of 6.0 or more, are more likely to produce pink blooms, and more acidic soils, pH 4.5 to 5.5, produce blue flowers.
Pink hydrangeas can be turned blue by applying aluminum sulfate to lower the pH and add aluminum to the soil. Applying lime to raise the pH level will help blue hydrangeas turn pink. If your soil naturally produces very blue or very pink hydrangea flowers, you may need to grow your hydrangeas in containers or raised beds to achieve the desired color. If you do attempt to change the color of your blooms by adding these minerals, dilute them well, and add sparingly. It is very easy to scorch your plants by adding too much. White hydrangeas are not affected by efforts to change bloom color.
Using Hydrangeas for Cut-Flower Arrangements
Cut them just as blooms fully develop.
Cut your flowers in the early morning, before the sun comes up to evaporate some of their moisture.
Cutting at diagonal will allow the stem to take in the most amount of water, some people will even cut slits or fray the ends of the stems a little.
Place your freshly cut flowers in a bucket of cool water to soak for an hour or two before arranging your final product.
Use a commercial floral preservative to get the best results. This will feed your flowers, maintain a constant pH, and will serve as an anti-microbial to prevent premature decay. You should be able to find this at a local nursery.
- Keep in mind that many gardeners and florists complain that hydrangeas wilt faster than other cut flowers and may require a little extra planning.
Keep it out of drafty areas and direct sunlight to prevent the flowers from drying. Finally, you can just sit back and admire your new décor or enjoy your special moment.
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Space according to ultimate size. Choose a good garden soil, high in organic matter that will help keep ample moisture available to the roots. The location should be sunny or partly shaded, the latter being preferable in dry areas.
If the pH of your soil is too high (alkaline), it can be reduced (made more acidic) by the addition of one tablespoon or more of Aluminum Sulfate per plant – this will make your flowers a deeper blue.
An annual mulch of compost is beneficial. In very cold or exposed locations, “hill” up the soil and mulch the base of the plant with pine needles or leaves. Most species require little pruning except the removal of dead flower heads after blooming or in early spring.
For H. arborescens, prune the previous year’s flowering wood to the ground in early spring. For H. macrophylla (H. hortensis) and H. serrata, thin out two- or threeyear- old flowering shoots at ground level to promote vigorous new growth. H.petiolaris should be pruned only for aesthetics.
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Tips for gardening in particularly hot, dry climates:
1. Water with a drip system whenever possible – soak the bed slowly and thoroughly to a depth of 10" to 12".
2. Watering deeply every 3 to 5 days is preferable to a shallow daily watering.
3. Water in the early morning, so foliage has time to dry.
4. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch or similar material to aid in water retention and help keep the roots cool during hot weather.