Native to China and Japan, panicle hydrangea is a vigorous, upright, rapidly growing, somewhat coarsely textured, deciduous shrub that typically grows to 8-15’ tall. It features oval to ovate dark green leaves and upright, sharply-pointed, pyramidal terminal panicles containing both fertile and sterile white flowers that bloom late summer to early fall. ‘Limelight’ is a slightly more compact cultivar that typically grows to 6-8’ tall and as wide. It is noted for producing large, dense, upright, cone-shaped panicles (to 8” across) of mostly sterile flowers that change color on the shrub as they mature. Flowers emerge creamy white, mature to chartreuse-lime and eventually acquire pink-darkening-to-rose tones before finally fading to beige. As the flower show fades in fall, the oval to ovate, serrate, dark green leaves (to 4” long) turn attractive shades of red. Panicles may be cut for fresh arrangements or for drying, or may be left on the plant where they will persist well into winter. U.S. Plant Patent PP12,874 issued on August 20, 2002.
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Select a site with full sun to light shade and moist, well-drained soil. In regions with hot summers, choose a spot with afternoon shade.
Plant in spring or fall. Space plants 3 to 10 feet apart, depending on the expected mature size of the plant. Dig a hole only as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide. If your soil is in very poor condition, amend the soil you’ve removed from the hole with a small amount of compost. Otherwise don’t amend it at all. Carefully remove the plant from the container and set it in the hole. Fill the hole half full with soil, then water it well to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Let the water drain, then fill the remainder of hole with soil and water thoroughly.
Apply a layer of compost under the tree each spring, spreading it out to the dripline (the area under the outermost branches). Add a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds, keeping mulch a few inches away from the tree trunk. Hydrangeas like consistently moist soil, so water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.