My Favorite Late Blooming Hydrangeas
I don’t know…maybe I love late blooming hydrangeas so much because I was a late bloomer myself. But hopefully I’ve gotten past my pre-pubescent challenges by now…and it has much more to do with the fact that while most of my yard’s other bloomin’ shrubs have seen a much better day, my Tardiva and Limelight hydrangeas are on full display.
These two beauts are varieties of Paniculata hydrangea. Both are very dependable large perennial shrubs that can be kept as shrubs or trained into tree-from. Their blooms are a bit different from each other, but both dramatic in their own right and make great cut flowers to bring inside to enjoy. I’d recommend them to anyone looking to make a big statement late in the summer and into the fall. So if that’s you…keep reading to learn more.
Lucky me…my mother-in-law, Mimi, is an avid gardener. And whenever her garden needs to be thinned out a bit, our yard is the primary benefactor. And one of my favorite “Mimi transplants” is a tree-form Tardiva Hydrangea.
Tardivas have large, lacy, creamy white pyramidal flowers. Well, technically they are called panicles …which are basically special stems that have a ton of clustered flowers on them. Anyway…as is the subject of this post, they are late bloomers…strutting their stuff from July into September.
Most Tardivas you’ll see are large multi-stemmed shrubs…but I inherited mine already in tree-form. They’re fast growers and can grow to be 8’-12’ tall and almost as wide.
Like most of her Paniculata cousins, besides being a late bloomer she grows well in full to partial sun and is very hardy. She can be grown alone as a spectacular specimen plant or with a few friends to make a dramatic hedge.
To learn more about Tardivas check out this link on Monrovia: Tardiva Hydrangeas
My favorite hydrangea…late blooming or not…is the Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’. I have a number of Limelights strategically placed in my front and back yards. They are big and bold…and beautifully bedazzled with huge creamy white flowers. Then as summer turns to fall they go from white to lime green…and then finally adding tinges of pink and purple for a little added interest.
2 things to note about Limelight’s flowers…err, panicles:
- Like their fellow Paniculatas, their flowers grow on this year’s growth (i.e., “new wood”)…which means pruning them in late winter or early spring, before their blooms set, will encourage vigorous growth and big’ole flowers. (Note: Many other hydrangeas bloom on “old wood”…or last year’s growth. So before you pull out your pruners and go to town on your little ladies, make sure you know who you’re dealing with…otherwise you might end up being very disappointed.)
- Limelight flowers are especially great to cut and bring inside. And because they are so big, just a few may do. Then, if you want to enjoy them inside for years to come, they make great dried flowers. We have an arrangement of Limelights that we just forgot to re-water…and voilà, dried flowers! And they’ve been there for about 4 years…seriously. Don’t judge.
Limelights grow well in full sun and can reach a height and width of 6’-8’. If you don’t have one and have the space, I’d highly recommend that you get one…or two or 12. Heck, if you don’t have one and don’t have the space, get one or more anyway…and yank something out of your garden to make room for them. I’m confident that you’ll be glad that you did.
To learn more about Limelights jump over to this page on Monrovia: Limelight Hardy Hydrangeas.
Other Varieties of Paniculata Hydrangeas
Now Limelights and Tardivas are just two of many varieties of Paniculata hydrangeas you have to choose from. So if you’re looking for late bloomers for your yard, you’re not limited to Paniculatas that are large with white flowers like mine. There are certainly some that are smaller and many that have flowers that will turn to beautiful shades of pink to almost red.
You can see for yourself by checking out these links on Monrovia:
- Little Lime™ Hardy Hydrangea: Being Limelight’s “mini-me”, Little Limes™ are another one of my favorites. They grow 3’-5’ tall and wide and, like Limelights, they have white flowers that turn to lime green towards the end of the summer.
- Quick Fire® Hardy Hydrangea: This Paniculata actually starts blooming a month earlier than her brethren…but will continue to bloom into the fall. Her blooms start out white, but turn to dark pink as time marches on. She’ll grow to be about 6’-8’ tall and wide.
- Bobo® Hardy Hydrangea: I don’t have any Bobos® in my yard, but plan to make the space for some soon. But being small…only growing to 3’-4’ tall and wide…I won’t have to make that much room for this hydrangea munchkin. Their blooms start out white, but will end up being powdery pink by fall.
- Fire Light™ Hardy Hydrangea: This lovely grows to be 5’-6’ tall and wide. Like most Paniculatas, these Fire Lights™ start out with white flowers, but as the name suggests, they turn a deep pink, almost red, in the fall.
- Angel’s Blush® Hydrangea: Angel’s Blush® hydrangeas are another great choice for your yard…if you have the space, as they can grow to be 10’-12’ tall and 6’-8’ wide. They grow better in partial sun and like their Paniculata sisters, they have large clusters of flowers (some could be 10” long) on display from late summer into fall. As is the typical pattern, her flowers start out white…then change colors as she moves into fall…and this Angel blushes to a rosy-red hue.
Alright I’ll leave it there. But if you want to learn more about other varieties of hydrangeas or how to plant, prune, or dry them, check out the Related Posts on RYGblog below.
And to make it even easier for you, I’ve created a handy printable Hydrangea Quick Reference Guide. Not only will you find summarized goodie on Paniculata hydrangeas, but on all their earlier blooming relatives as well.
But for today…here’s to all the late bloomers out there!
Take care and happy gardening friends,
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Douglas, Several years ago you suggested I plant Limelight Hydrangeas in our garden. We now have 3 beautiful bushes that we enjoy so much! Thanks for all your informative blogs!
Thanks Mother Dearest! Our love for Limelight Hydrangeas runs deep…and so glad yours did so well in your garden. When they love their spot, the sure are show-stoppers! Hugs, D3
Hey Doug – this summer, I planted three limelight hydrangeas in a shady area in my yard. They are doing fine – except for the one the deer devoured! Should I plan to move them to a sunnier area for them to reach their full potential?
Hey friend, good to hear from you. Thanks for reaching out. Yes, I would move them to where they get at least partial sun. It’s a common misconception that all hydrangeas need to be planted in a shady spot. I think it may be because the big blue mophead hydrangeas (Macrophylla) do well in partial shade…and because they are so popular in the South, that characteristic is projected on other hydrangeas. But to get the most of your Limelights (Paniculata) give them a bit more sun…and room to stretch…they can get big. But just to be clear…moving them won’t address your deer problem! Thanks buddy…take care, D.
Thanks, my friend. Do you have a favorite bush that does do well in the shade? Also, is it okay to move the Limelights now or should I wait until later this fall? DWS
Hey DWS1 – If you’re looking for a shade-loving shrub that would roughly fill the same amount of space as a Limelight, one of my favorites is Japanese Aralia…or Fatsia (http://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/1195/japanese-aralia/). I have several in my yard. And although I’m not a huge variegated fan, the Camouflage Fatsia is really cool (http://www.monrovia.com/gardening-videos/camouflage-fatsia/). I just planted 4 in my yard this spring. The bonus with either is that they are evergreen…so if you’re using them to serve as a backdrop, they will work all year ’round.
As for when, if you can, I’d recommend that you wait to transplant the Limelights until later this fall…when they are closer to being dormant. That way all the energy they have can focus on what’s below the ground…the roots…which will set them up to withstand next summer’s heat better. Make sense?
Thanks for reaching out friend,
Great information! You are an awesome friend to have, DWS2! Thanks for ALL you have done to help me in my yard. I look forward to sharing more of this journey with you. DWS1
So glad it was helpful David! Reach out any time…you know how to reach me. Take care, D.
Hi there! Loved your article!
I am trying to figure out what kind of hydrangea I inherited when we bought our house. We live in southern BC, Canada, and the hydrangea we have blooms relatively late in summer and has white flowers that quickly change to pink. My husband trimmed ALL our shrubs in the spring (oh poor forsythia!!), and the hydrangea grew long new growth that is falling over with the flower load. Should I prune it soon before winter strikes, or wait until early spring? Thanks for any advice you can give me!
Hey Kim…so glad you liked the post…and that you found it helpful. If you didn’t see it…you may find the quick reference guide that I pulled together even more helpful. On it you will see that I have a section about pruning. Here’s the link: https://redeemyourground.com/hydrangea-quick-reference-guide/
It sounds like to me that you have some sort of hydrangea paniculata…and if you do you can prune them back in late winter or early spring and not risk cutting off that year’s blooms. That said, you can certainly prune it now…but I don’t prune my limelights (a paniculata) until early spring.
As for the heavy flower load…in a way that’s a great thing…means a lot of big flowers. One thing you can do to avoid having the flimsiest of branches/flowers is to prune out the real thin branches…leaving the sturdier ones. Once they lose their leaves and you can see the structure of the plant you’ll see what I’m talking about.
I hope you have a great weekend…and please reach out if you have any other questions.
Take care, D.
I record Growing a Greener World..I’ve watched the “Redeeming your ground” episode several times..I first saw it awhile back..then again recently..I haven’t deleted it because I might want to watch it again!.. love your philosophy..I also “live” outside..have you heard this quote?..”I live in my garden. I just sleep in the house.” I’m so ready for spring..I live on half an acre in Indianapolis..it’s wooded..it’s a full time job to maintain and beautify it..but I love every minute that I’m outside working on it..2 more thoughts..I love the video of everyone enjoying your garden AND the pic of your daughter in the blue dress and the yellow bucket is priceless!..
Ann, thanks so much for all of your kind words and encouragement. They mean a ton. So glad that our episode on GGW resonated with you. Sounds like we have a similar philosophy on life! So nice to hear from a kindred spirit of sorts. I hope you have a great rest of your day and week…and thanks again for reaching out. Take care, Doug
I liked that show too! That is how I first saw Redeem your Ground. You are a wonderful teacher.
Thanks Tracy! And thanks for your kind words. So glad you found us on GGW. We love Joe & his crew … it was a great experience. Take care & thanks again, D.