Little Lime Hydrangea Care: A Gardener’s Guide


Little Lime Hydrangeas are a wonderful dwarf version of the popular full-size Limelight Hydrangea. Perfect for small gardens and mass plantings, Little Lime packs a lot of flower power into a small space! Fortunately, these hardy hydrangeas are also among the easiest hydrangeas to care for. Here’s how to care for Little Lime Hydrangeas in the garden.

Here are the key steps to Little Lime Hydrangea Care:

  • Plant in a wide hole as deep as the soil in the pot.
  • Mulch the surrounding soil with organic mulch.
  • Keep the mulch 6” from the stems at all times.
  • Water regularly during the growing season for evenly moist soil.
  • Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased stems whenever observed.
  • Deadhead the flowers if they flop over or after the first frost.
  • Prune Little Lime in late winter/early spring.
  • Apply a slow-release organic fertilizer in early spring.

Little Lime Hydrangeas are forgiving, low-maintenance landscaping shrubs. Read on to learn about each aspect of caring for Little Lime Hydrangeas.

Hardy Hydrangea in Fall - Little Lime Panicle Hydrangea - Hydrangea paniculata
Little Lime Hydrangea flowers turn pink in the fall! Here is a bloom in October (Zone 5).

How to Care for Little Lime Hydrangea

Caring for little lime hydrangea plants involves deep watering, mulching, removing dead flowers, and light pruning. Maintenance of Little Lime is relatively low in comparison to other hardy hydrangeas. These deciduous shrubs produce quite a few flowers given their small size. 

Little Lime Hydrangea care is relatively simple given their tolerance of cold temperatures, drought, and disease. Hardy hydrangeas like Little Lime are cold-hardy down to zone 3, and can generally be grown comfortably in zones 3-8. 

What about sunlight? Can Little Lime hydrangeas take full sun? Little Lime Hydrangea shrubs appreciate sunlight and do best in full sun or partial sun. Little Lime is not a shade-loving hydrangea. Filtered sun to full sun is best!

Little Lime Hydrangea like a consistently moist soil environment throughout the growing season. These hydrangeas don’t like soil that’s absolutely saturated with water, but they certainly prefer moist soil to dry soil. Use a drip irrigation line to keep the soil moisture steady all summer. If not using a drip line, hand water regularly to maintain soil moisture (at least weekly).

Planting Little Lime Flowering Hydrangea Shrubs

Little Lime Hydrangea care starts with planting the shrub properly. Dig a wide hole for the shrub, perhaps twice as wide as the pot the shrub is sold in. The hole should not be too deep though. The hole should be no deeper than the soil in the plant pot. The soil around the base of the shrub should be the same level as the surrounding ground after the Little Lime has been planted.

Mulch is a key part of success for Little Lime Dwarf Hydrangeas. A good organic mulch keeps moisture in the soil. The roots of this shrub appreciate steady, consistent moisture throughout the growing season. Mulch is very helpful in moderating the heat from the sun as well as drying cold winds. I like to mulch with homemade organic compost or a high-quality landscape mulch made from plant material. 

Mulch Too Close to the Base of Little Lime Hydrangea
One plant in a long hedge wasn’t thriving. It was noticeably smaller than the others and this Little Lime wasn’t blooming. Look what I discovered! Mulch totally up against and surrounding the base of the plant. KEEP THE MULCH AWAY FROM THE STEMS. This plant was remediated and now the Little Lime Hydrangea Hedge is looking much more uniform.

While adding mulch, remember that mulch should never actually touch the base of any shrub. Don’t even place mulch within 6” of the woody stem base. The plant will fill in so fast it will cover the area. Don’t worry about the un-mulched ring around the base – it’s not worth covering that spot with mulch!

Mulch touching the base creates a moist cozy environment for harmful micro-organisms. The stems have developed to thrive with good air flow, not with moist, trapped air. Keep the mulch 6” from the stems of the Little Lime Hydrangea as it grows. Regularly pull back any mulch that makes its way to the base of the plant.

Little Lime Hydrangea Flower in Autumn - Mid-October

Little Lime Hydrangea Pruning

Little Lime Hydrangeas require minimal pruning. These hydrangeas are bred to be compact, generally growing to a size of 3-5 feet tall by 3-5 feet wide. Pruning is generally not required for the first 2-3 years. Little Lime shrubs are generally nicely rounded and may not ever require pruning for size if planted in a location where they can grow to their full mature size. 

When to Prune Little Lime Hydrangea

So, when to prune Little Lime Hydrangea? Prune Little Lime Hydrangea in late winter or early spring, preferably while the shrub is dormant. Pruning at the start of the growing season encourages the growth of stems and flower buds. The best time to prune Little Lime shrubs is just as the snow has melted. The shrubs are still dormant, but it’s warm enough to be out in the garden. 

Deadheading Little Lime Hydrangea flowers can be done any time. Stems that are dead, damaged, or diseased, should also be removed throughout the year at the time they are observed. Hard pruning for shape and size should be done in late winter or early spring, although this shrub is rather tolerant of out-of-season pruning.

Little Lime Hydrangeas bloom on new wood. Flower buds are developed in spring. Little Lime Hydrangea flowers grow each summer on the fresh green stems that appear in the spring. Because it blooms on new wood, this flowering shrub can be pruned in the late winter or early spring without fear of reducing summer flowers. The pre-season pruning will stimulate growth of the stems that will bloom in the summer. 

These hydrangeas are also somewhat tolerant of pruning at less-than-ideal times of year. Pruning Little Lime Hydrangea in the summer will result in fewer blooms that year. Hard fall pruning of these hydrangeas is not recommended until they are entering dormancy. Hard pruning stimulates growth, which is the opposite of what we want the shrub doing in the fall. Deadhead the flowers after the first frost and remove any dead/damaged/diseased stems, but save the true pruning until the hydrangea is dormant.

How to Prune Little Lime Hydrangea

Little Lime Hydrangea is best pruned back in late winter or early spring. It will survive often being cut back to the ground, but most gardeners choose simply to reduce the length of the stems prior to the growing season to encourage strong stems and lots of blooms. 

Cut each stem of the Little Lime back to 1-3 feet at the start of the growing season. Dead, Damaged, or Diseased stems should be removed completely whenever they are observed. Removing spent foliage in a timely manner is a key part of Little Lime Hydrangea care.

How and When to Fertilize Little Lime Hydrangeas

Early spring is the best time to fertilize Little Lime Hydrangea. Apply a slow-release balanced organic fertilizer to the surrounding soil in early spring as the plant is coming out of dormancy. A smaller feeding in mid-summer can be helpful in some environments. The pH of the fertilizer does not change the color of the flowers.

An all-purpose fertilizer is great for Little Lime Hydrangeas. I keep a list of my favourite organic plant fertilizers on this page. Check it out for my fertilizer recommendations.

Deer Not Eating Hardy Hydrangeas
Deer do eat Little Lime Hydrangea plants, but they’ll look for more delicious plants to eat first. Hardy hydrangeas are occasionally damaged by deer, but only if there isn’t something better to munch on.

Garden Design with Little Lime Hydrangea

Little Lime Hydrangea makes a lovely compact flowering statement plant. They’re also quite easy to care for (even in mass plantings). Here are some great uses for Little Lime in garden design:

  • Borders
  • Containers
  • Cutting Garden
  • Hedge
  • Foundation Planting
  • Woodland Garden

For a Little Lime Hydrangea hedge, plant the shrubs 36-60 inches apart (3-5 feet).

Mature Size of Little Lime Hydrangea

So, how big do Little Lime Hydrangeas get? Little Lime Hydrangea shrubs can reach 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide at maturity. Given variations in growing conditions, an individual plant might only reach 3-5 feet tall and wide when fully grown. These dwarf hydrangeas are about one-third of the size of other hardy hydrangeas, and therefore require less pruning to keep them small.

The Blooms of Little Lime Hydrangea

Little Lime Hydrangea grows lots of lovely cone-shaped flowers with little care or maintenace. Flower buds form on brand new stems in the spring. The light lime green blooms for which this shrub is named appear in early summer. The green flowers later turn to pink as the end of summer approaches. The flowers deepen their pink colour in the fall, making for wonderful autumn interest.

The stems of Little Lime flowers are very sturdy, making these flowers great for a cutting garden. The flowers aren’t terribly big and are easy to work with in flower arrangements. Little Lime Hydrangea flowers can also be dried and saved for year-round flower arrangements or special holiday decor.

Little Lime Hydrangea Turning Pink in the Fall

Companion Plants for Little Lime Hydrangea

Little Lime Hydrangea is very versatile, and is tolerant of many other plants. Here are some potential companion plants for Little Lime:

Trees:

  • Dogwood
  • Hornbeam
  • Chanticleer Pear

Shrubs:

  • Boxwood
  • Shrub Rose
  • Viburnum

Perennials:

  • Astilbe
  • Lavender
  • Coral Bells

Read more about Little Lime Hydrangeas at Proven Winners.

Hedge of Little Lime Hydrangea Plants in Late Autumn

Mary Jane

Mary Jane is a home gardener who loves creating healthy, welcoming spaces (indoors and out!) - About Mary Jane (https://www.homefortheharvest.com/authors/about-mary-jane-duford/)

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