'Little Lime' Is the Petite Hydrangea Your Small Garden Needs
You loved your grandmother's beautiful, showy hydrangeas so much that you made the decision to plant some in your yard, right? Good call, but, after a visit to your local nursery, you are a bit confused over which type you should plant. Grandma grew the tall French hydrangeas, overloaded with coarsely toothed leaves and balloon-shaped blue blossoms. As much as you love those flowers and would cherish cuttings from her plants, that particular hydrangea variety would grow too tall and wide for your small garden. No need to despair; amongst all the varieties, there is one that is the right size for your space. If you are looking for a smaller plant with a big personality, the 'Little Lime' panicle hydrangea is exactly what you need.
Compared to its famous 8-foot-tall sibling, 'Limelight,' the 'Little Lime' hydrangea may look, at first glance, like a pipsqueak. But don't think this petite shrub can't make a statement in the garden. Maintaining a compact and manageable size of 3–5' tall and wide, this variety adds a visual "wow" factor when loaded down with large flowers.
Why You'll Want to Plant 'Little Lime'
Both 'Limelight' and 'Little Lime' are varieties of Hydrangea paniculata, a normally tall, deciduous shrub native to Japan and China. Panicle hydrangeas bear conical clusters of flower petals, blooming from mid-summer until fall. 'Little Lime,' which is also known as 'Jane,' has oval green foliage and produces its tightly packed green panicles in the summer. The chartreuse blooms brighten to a soft white, then turn rosy pink and finally burgundy as they age, extending the show into the fall. Cool fall nights result in the most dramatic color, so results can differ depending on where you live. A border of several plants can result in a multi-colored cotton candy effect in the garden. Another nice feature of 'Little Lime' is the sturdy, branching stems that hold the flower heads upright with little drooping.
'Little Lime' hydrangea is small enough to grow in containers but also makes a bold statement when used in a mass planting along a fence, a flower border, or along the sunny edge of a woodland garden. A single mounded shrub can stand on its own or in a mixed border. Its dramatic bloom coloration makes it an excellent addition to your cut flower gardens—use them either fresh or dried.
Caring for 'Little Lime' Hydrangeas
Unlike a lot of hydrangeas that bloom on old wood and should be pruned after flowering, 'Little Lime' blooms on new wood and should be trimmed to the preferred size and shape in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges. The later you prune, the later that 'Little Lime' could produce flowers. Though pruning is not required except to remove dead wood, giving 'Little Lime' a haircut will encourage fresh growth and an abundance of buds. You can leave dried blooms on the shrub in the fall for winter interest.
Like most hydrangeas, 'Little Lime' prefers evenly moist soil and will require supplemental watering in periods of dry weather or drought conditions. An easygoing, reliable performer, 'Little Lime' is hardy in USDA Zones 3–8 and can be grown in full sun or part sun, but is happiest with afternoon shade in the South. This hydrangea should be just fine if you forgo fertilizing altogether, but you can apply a controlled-release fertilizer in early spring. Choose a fertilizer that prioritizes flowers over foliage. Then sit back on the patio this summer, sip your lemonade, and enjoy the show.