Little Lime Hydrangea, a dwarf Limelight Hydrangea, is a beautiful, unique shrub that fits into any size garden and provides season-long interest. It's easy to grow and provides beautiful cut flowers.
Now updated with new similar dwarf varieties of hydrangea paniculata to grow if you'd like more pink or need more cold hardiness.
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In every home we've lived in, I have planted hydrangeas. I know I am not alone in my love for hydrangeas - they are one of the most popular deciduous shrubs planted in North America.
One of the best things about hydrangeas is that almost all of the varieties have blooms that change color and shades throughout the season, providing 8-10 months of interest, which is a beautiful thing in the landscape.
By the time we moved from our previous cottage garden, I had planted and enjoyed ten hydrangeas, including Endless Summer, old-fashioned lacecaps, a maple-leaved hydrangea, and a PeeGee hydrangea trained into a small tree.
But the last one I planted and maybe loved the most, was a Little Lime Hydrangea.
Little Lime Hydrangea is a dwarf version of Limelight Hydrangea, growing 3-5 feet tall instead of 6-8 feet.
Fun Fact: The botanical name for this variety is actually Hydrangea paniculata 'Jane' but is sold under the trade name of 'Little Lime.'
I planted the shrub in our small half-circle bed next to the gravel patio in the back yard that also included a standard PeeGee Hydrangea (you can just see it at the top of the photo above). That plant's blossoms start white and also turn pink and green by the end of the season so the two hydrangeas really complimented each other.
You could see this bed from the back windows of the house, as well as when we were eating outside and the hydrangeas made it one of my favorites of the whole yard, providing interest and color from April through October.
Little Lime Hydrangea
Why Grow Little Lime Hydrangea?
There are a number of reasons to grow this sweet little shrub.
1. First and foremost is the blossoms.
They bloom reliably on new wood every year. The blossoms start out as, well...lime green (yes, it's named well) in a loose paniculata (cone) shape and then change as it matures.
Since the Little Lime was so visible where I planted it, we could easily enjoy every stage of the blossom development.
Bonus! The plant continues to put out new lime green blossoms through the season, similar to Endless Summer, since it blooms on new wood.
As the blooms age, the blossoms become tipped with a mauvy-pink, which continues to change over time to a greenish-white color with subtle pink highlights.
2. Another reason to grow the dwarf version of Limelight is that it has much less issues with flopping and drooping stems that the larger shrub seems to have.
3. It's low maintenance. It's almost a "plant-it-and-forget-it" shrub. Give it a yearly layer of soil-feeding compost (over a layer of newspaper, of course), and then prune in the spring and that's about it for maintenance. You can just trim it or cut it back by a third - as long as the pruning happens in early spring you can't really go wrong with panicle hydrangeas like Little Lime.
4. Winter hardiness. This variety, along with all the hydrangea paniculata varieties, are some of the most winter hardy hydrangeas you can get, thriving in Zones 4-8 (and some will grow in zone 3, too).
How to Grow Little Lime Hydrangea
- Plant Little Lime in well drained soil that's been amended with compost in an area of part shade to sun, zones 3-8 (warmer climates should look for an area with afternoon shade).
- You can also plant this in a container, where it will keep more in the 3 foot range for height.
- Cover the base with a layer of soil-feeding compost when planting and then cover with newspaper and mulch to keep weeds away.
- Water regularly during the dry season.
- Deadhead or prune the plant by a third in late winter or early spring to encourage new blooms and strong stems.
- If growing a hedge, plant them about 3-4 feet apart. They grow 3-5 feet in both height and width (though my experience with growing in a sunny location was the full five feet tall).
All that's left is to enjoy your blooms!
Little Lime Hydrangea FAQs
Little Lime is about half the size of the full sized 'limelight' hydrangea, growing just 3-5 feet tall instead of 6-8 feet. In the full-sun space I planted in my garden, it grew to the full 5 feet in three years.
It's up to you. Some sources say you don't have to do anything other than deadhead the old blossoms in early spring (pruning the stems down a bit as you do). You can also prune the entire plant back by a third. As long as the pruning happens in early spring you can't really go wrong with panicle hydrangeas. When I grew it I cut it back by a third to be able to shape it and fit it in the space. If it's in a space it can grow naturally, you probably don't need to.
Little Lime (and all the paniculatas, actually) are versatile and can take either sun or shade, although they need 4 to 6 hours of sun to bloom their best.
They should bloom in shade, though the blossoms will be smaller and there won't be as many of them.
New dwarf hydrangea paniculata varieties similar to Little Lime
Little Lime Punch Panicle Hydrangea (Paniculata)
- Grows 3-5 ft. tall and wide
- Colors show a mix of white, green, and pink - the blooms start lime green and age progressively from the bottom up in a beautiful array of white, light pink, and rich "Hawaiian Punch" red
- Compact habit and strong stems
- Prune to 1/3 its total height every spring (specific to this variety)
Bobo panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
- Covered all summer long with loads of the large white flowers
- Large white flowers summer to fall
- Full sun
- Grows 3 to 4 ft. tall and wide
- Cold hardy - zones 3 to 9
Little Quick Fire® panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
- Blooms creamy white flowers in early summer that mature to pink
- Full sun to part shade
- Grows 3 to 5 ft. tall and wide
- Cold hardy - zones 3 to 8
Decorating with Little Lime Hydrangea
Little Lime hydrangea is super easy to dry at the mature stage - just cut the flowers and set them in containers to enjoy all through the winter months.
In the photos above you can see the simple long box we made from salvaged wood for our table that I added Little Lime blooms and a few white mini 'Baby Boo' pumpkins to for an easy fall centerpiece.
Add some of the cut blossoms to a vintage galvanized container for the porch and you have a cute look that will last all fall.
I loved the simple mantle I created one year with heritage green Ball canning jars which each held a single large Little Lime flower.
Sweet and simple as a transition from late summer to fall before all the pumpkins come out.
Little Lime Hydrangea was chosen as Landscape Plant of the Year in 2016, and I totally see why!
I'm sad that I can't plant it in my new farmhouse landscape because they are sadly NOT deer resistant, but I'm definitely going to plant one in my fenced garden so I can cut some of the gorgeous blooms.
Do you grow Little Lime - or will you now?
This article has been updated in 2020 and 2023 - it was originally published in September of 2012.Disclosure: affiliate links in this article will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price. Click here to read our full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.