Limelight hydrangea

(Question)

Hello, I have a 3 year old limelight that is not leafing out yet as of june10th, when I scratch the bark it is green underneath, it is in pretty moist soil clay once you get down a bit, in a good sun shade location, should it have leafed out by now, I can’t see any buds and it has white spots on the bark.

(Answer)

Hydrangea paniculata “Limelight” is considered to be very hardy and relatively pest- and disease-resistant.  In Toronto, we would expect hydrangeas to have begun to leaf out by early June.   You don’t say whether you pruned your hydrangea in early spring. If you are not seeing any buds, it is possible that your hydrangea has been damaged by the cold winter.  At this point, you could prune it back, removing any bare stems, and then watch for new growth at the base of the plant.

Hydrangeas appreciate organically rich, well-drained soil.  You should consider amending the soil by adding a layer of organic material such as compost.  “Limelight” does not do well in hot, dry locations although it is more drought-resistant than other varieties.

White spots on the bark could be an insect pest such as a scale insect, which can appear as white bumps on stems and leaves.  These insects have piercing mouth parts that suck the sap from plant tissues, weakening the plant over time.  They can be dislodged and controlled by a strong spray of water from a garden hose, repeated several times a week.  Spraying with insecticidal soap can also be effective, but avoid mid-day spraying in the heat and strong sunshine.

Very best of luck with your Limelight hydrangea.  Hopefully you will see some new growth soon.