Limelight Hydrangeas — ALL the Details On Our Huge Hedges!

Since moving into our home (how is this our seventh spring?!) we try to do something to add to/improve our landscape, each year. But, the very first year we moved, the priority at the top of my list was installing some sort of flowering statement hedge along the side of our house. Without a doubt, what we went with was the single best decision we’ve made for the outside of our home. Today, I’m sharing all the details on what becomes a hot topic each time I share on social media– how we care for our limelight hydrangeas.

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NOTE: As a disclaimer, I am not an expert gardener and barely have a green thumb. These are the steps we take, that work for us, in growing these lovely blooms, and after a few years of requests, I’m sharing our methods. As always, climate zone, light, soil composition, etc. are all factors in what will thrive — and what may not — when planting limelight hydrangeas or any other shrub. 

How We Decided On Limelight Hydrangeas

As an FYI, we live in north Georgia and fall somewhere between zones 7 and 8. We get humidity, we get hot summers, and we see all four seasons. Our soil is also filled with red clay. Now that we have the basics disclosed, let’s get to it!

I love lush vegetation lining homes, fences… you name it — I think it serves as an ornamental frame of sorts. It hides imperfections along the base and gives the feeling of a lived in, mature home setting. We have a slightly elevated deck and I wanted something that would *hopefully* grow tall enough to cover the gap between the decking and the ground, that would also grow outward to form somewhat of a hedge. While hydrangeas aren’t evergreens and the blooms aren’t around year-round, they only appear “dead” for a couple months out of the year. Even when they don’t have blooms, the green leaves are big, beautiful and lush. And, each year, they come back bigger and better than the year before. I wanted something that would be hearty and that would provide lots of opportunity to clippings, too! While there are tons of varieties of hydrangeas and I adore them all — especially in the pretty shades of blue — we had to opt for a “panicle” hydrangea variety that would thrive in the hot sun. While most colorful hydrangeas seem to do better in less volatile weather, panicle hydrangeas are a variety that’s durable and loves the sun.

huge hedge of limelight hydrangeas on side of house

What Are the Benefits of Limelight Hydrangeas?

In the hot (north) Georgia temps with that side of the house receiving almost full sun for the majority of the day, our limelight hydrangeas have thrived since the very first year. While I fail a lot in the yard, I can confidently say from several years of experience, they are:

  1. easy to grow and hard to mess up
  2. require limited care
  3. grow quickly
  4. produce huge blooms
  5. cover a lot of ground/space
  6. are excellent for yielding awesome cuttings for the house
  7. take on different hues from late summer to fall

Limelight Hydrangeas Cut Into Flower Arrangements

I just splurged on THIS new BIG vase — it’s already in position on our breakfast nook sideboard and I can’t wait to start loading it up with big limelight blooms!

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Where Do You Get Limelight Hydrangeas?

We get ours from a local nursery but depending on availability in your area, they actually have farms that ship them in containers through Amazon (HERE). Have you ever ordered larger landscaping (trees, bushes, etc.) online? I’ve never ordered shrubs online but I have gotten plants delivered before.

When to Plant Limelight Hydrangeas

While spring is a great time to plant them, I *believe* we planted ours in the fall, before it got too cold. Our first year after moving they bloomed prolifically, and since then, continues to burst with blooms each year.

How Deep of a Hole Do You Dig to Plant Limelight Hydrangeas?

We had a landscaper plant the limelight hydrangeas along the side of our house, but Dave planted the firelight hydrangeas along the back of our house. He dug the holes deep enough for the  firelights — without the plastic container they came in — to be positioned about 1-2″ below ground level. When in doubt, follow the care card that will come with your panicle hydrangeas or ask your local nursery.

The Limelight Hydrangeas Are Planted… Now What?

When you first plant your hydrangeas, make sure they receive water from you or nature regularly. The Limelights will produce some blooms in their first year and will produce more prolifically in subsequent years. Since first planting them and making sure they were well watered in those initial weeks/months, we no longer give them water aside from what they get from rain. We also don’t fertilize.

How and When Do You Prune Limelight Hydrangeas?

Depending on who you ask, you will probably get lots of opinions on this topic. However, we use the same method and timeline year after year and it hasn’t failed us yet! While some people only cut the tops of the hydrangeas back, we actually cut almost the entire shrubs down. We were a little tardy this year but we typically prune the limelights in mid-February — plenty of time before new growth is expected. This year, we (and be “we”, I mean “Dave” 😉 ) pruned them the last week of February. We also cut them down, almost to the ground, leaving maybe 12″ (give or take a few). Here’s what they looked like just before they were pruned…

How to prune limelight hydrangeas

Brown, crunchy, and not great. Here’s after they were cut…

How to prune limelight hydrangeas

When Do Limelight Hydrangeas Bloom?

While they start budding new leaves in early spring, they don’t typically start to bloom flowers until mid-summer. The blooms will last and turn from white to green to a deep purple/burgundy on into the fall. Last year, I documented the blooming stages (and how rapidly they sprung up!) on Instagram stories. I went back and took some screenshots of the growth cycle this past year. Within a month of pruning last year (and the hydrangeas looking as they do above), they started to sprout new growth.

When to prune limelight hydrangeas

And they move quickly! They had already turned into small, lush, green bushes about two weeks from their initial growth.

How to care for limelight hydrangeas

Just over a month later, they were already climbing as tall as the vertical decking…

How to care for and prune limelight hydrangeas

And two months after that, they had grown past the deck railing and were sprouting white blooms all over. If you aren’t familiar with limelight hydrangeas, these blooms start off small — they are more cone-shaped, too — but most end up growing larger than my head. Literally. They’re huge!

How to care for limelight hydrangeas

And at that same time, here are the younger firelight hydrangeas along the back of our house. They’re another panicle hydrangea that are incredibly similar to limelights — but, their final color is more fiery red.

how to care for firelight hydrangeas

How Big Do Limelight Hydrangeas Get?

Here’s a bigger, better look at how the limelight hydrangeas look, just before they start blooming. On the side of the house, we have six total; while they’ve always grown tall and wide, they’ve grown taller and wider with each year. I would guess since they have matured, they are somewhere between 6′ and 7′ tall and wide now.

Huge limelight hydrangeas on the side of the house to form a hedge in the hot sun

We have a slight spacing where the gutter is coming out but aside from that, the limelights have essentially grown into each other to form a big hedge. I believe there are four shrubs present in this photo.

How to make limelight hydrangeas grow into a hedge

They are tall so they do bend a bit under their own weight but unless we have strong winds or crazy rains, they do pretty well. When I start to cut from them, I will go after the heavier stems first and of course, try to cut from different areas so it isn’t obvious blooms are missing. Here’s my sweet, late Penny girl after cutting some stems for arrangements one afternoon a few years ago — check out that bloom on the counter. That is one bloom! See? Bigger than a human head!

Limelight Hydrangeas -- how to care for and prune them

The bushes are covered in blooms all over, too — not just up top, but down low, in the middle, etc. Plus, they continue to grow and develop new blooms from summer through fall — they don’t all hit at once. Here’s my Eliza girl last year (where does the time go?!)

limelight hydrangeas tips

I have tried other kinds of hydrangeas and despite planting them in the shade, giving them plenty of water, using fertilizer, etc. and have never had any luck. Like, any luck at all (I told you I don’t have a green thumb!) But… panicle hydrangeas — both in limelights and firelights, now — have never let me down. They’re just so. dang. easy. If you’re looking for a hearty, hard-to-kill blooming shrub, these are proven winners.

How to care for limelight hydrangeas

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10 Comments

  1. 3.8.21
    Lori said:

    What a perfect post. We just moved to Eastern Tennessee last year summer and I wanted to plant some hydrangeas. I’m definitely going to look for the limelight variety. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • 3.9.21

      Hi Lori, Thank you so much for your kind note! You can’t go wrong with the Limelights. We absolutely love them!

  2. 3.8.21
    Aminah said:

    Thank you a million!! We just moved into what will most likely be the house we raise our three boys in for a long time and my favorite shrubs have always been white hydrangeas. It’s one of my oldest dreams to have a house that is surrounded by those beautiful blooms. So I can’t wait to get started this fall! I have one hydrangea bush already outfront by the mailbox and even though the yard was a little neglected in general, that hydrangea plant was thriving and beautiful when we moved in late last fall. Can’t wait for it to grow back soon! Also I am super excited for your conversation room reveal and have been checking the blog every day to make sure I don’t miss it!

    • 3.9.21

      Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by. I appreciate your sweet note very much. I LOVE all things hydrangea. I so wish I had the light for the blue variety. But the Limelights will always be my favorite! More to come on the conversation room soon, so please stay tuned!

  3. 3.8.21
    Rebecca said:

    They are beautiful. I was wondering can I cut back my hydrangeas trees this way?

    • 3.9.21

      Hi Rebecca, Thank you for taking the time to stop by. I am so sorry that I don’t have any experience with the hydrangea trees. I bet your local landscape supply source can help!

  4. 3.9.21
    Josselyn Novella said:

    Kelley,

    I love your flowers…..so pretty! I live in Fort Myers, Florida, which is too far south to grow hydrangeas. Hydrangeas are my favorite! I have many silk ones around my home. We are talking about moving north, Georgia or Tennessee. Perhaps one day, I’ll be able to grow those beautiful flowers. Love the hedge.

    Thanks for sharing the picture of Eliza and your precious Penny.

    • 3.10.21

      Hi Josselyn, Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and leave a note. I know that you have the good fortune of having other plant options that thrive in your Florida climate. One of the best things we have to offer here is that the temps usually drop in the evening the summer. I think that makes a big difference with the type of plants you are able to have. We also love having our four seasons here!

  5. 3.11.21
    Cecilia from Georgia said:

    Thank you, Kelley for posting this at the perfect time! I keep checking my limelights and haven’t seen a bit of green yet:( I planted them around the pool and they were young last year, so they were a bit leggy, and the deer didn’t help either! I hope they look even half as lovely as yours did last year. Love your blog and IG. Are you making a charcutier board for St. Patrick’s Day? You always put together such a fabulous mix of yummies.

    • 3.12.21

      Hi Cecilia, Thank you for your kind message! I so hope that your limelights will grow and thrive this year, despite the deer. Thank you for asking about the St. Patrick’s Day board. I do have three on the blog from a past year and hope to do a spring board soon. Please stay tuned! xoxo

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