New plants get a lot of attention, which is fine. New plants are exciting and fun. But let’s look at an old-school favorite that is earning some much-deserved attention.
Little Lime® Hydrangea paniculata was introduced in 2010, and just as ‘Limelight’ set a new standard for hardy hydrangeas, Little Lime followed in its footsteps. It offers everything we love about ‘Limelight,’ but on a compact 3-5′ habit – full green blooms that turn pink and burgundy in the fall, super-strong stems, and hardy to USDA zone 3.
It’s a great hydrangea. But don’t take my word for it! The Chicago Botanic Garden just released Plant Evaluation Notes, issue #47, with results of their comparative trials of Hydrangea paniculata cultivars.
The cover features a gorgeous image of ‘Limelight’ panicle hydrangea, which earned the highest 5-star rating (“excellent”), along with Pinky Winky®, Little Quick Fire®, and Little Lime, our plant of the week. Bobo®, Fire Light®, and Quick Fire® panicle hydrangeas also fared very well in the evaluation.
Of the six-year evaluation, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s website states, “The goal of the program is to determine, through scientific evaluation, which plants are superior for gardens in the Upper Midwest. Plants are rated on ornamental qualities, cultural adaptability, winter hardiness, and disease and pest resistance. It is the intent of the program to study and recommend plants that are readily available in area nurseries.”
Sounds like it’s the perfect time to add a high-performance panicle hydrangea, like Little Lime, to your garden!
Not just new, better.
In summary, the Plant Evaluation Notes document states, “More recently, a marked increase in trademarked introductions reflects changes in the nursery industry and greater market competition for new products.”
Yes, the search for plants that perform better can drive competition. But it’s important to note that breeding better plants comes first. We don’t breed new varieties simply to release something new; we do it to make gardeners more successful. Sometimes that means competing with ourselves.
For instance, one of our new introductions, Limelight Prime®, was in evaluations here at the nursery for almost as long as our seven award winners were being trialed in Chicago. We wanted to make sure it brought something unique and better to our hydrangea line. When we knew we had an improved ‘Limelight,’ we released it.
Limelight Prime has darker foliage, and flowers that stay green longer, then transition to a deeper, richer pink. The habit is more upright, too, holding those flowers high above the foliage on straight, strong stems. Size-wise, it’s right between ‘Limelight’ and Little Lime® hydrangeas at 4-6′ tall and 4-5′ wide. Take your choice, they are all great hydrangeas. Isn’t it nice to have choices? Especially when they are all so good.