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Pee Gee Hydrangea vs Limelight: 4 Key Differences

Pee Gee and Limelight hydrangeas, both highly favored for their beauty, often appear remarkably alike, making it challenging to tell them apart. Nevertheless, they do exhibit distinct characteristics. Today, we delve into these differences.

Pee Gee hydrangeas are known for their summer bloom of radiant white flowers. In contrast, Limelight hydrangeas also flower in the summer, but their initial blossoms display a vivid green hue.

Pee Gee, formally recognized as Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora,’ is a heritage variety that emerged in the mid-19th century. Over time, it has arguably become the most prevalent type of hydrangea.

Limelight, another member of the panicle hydrangea family, was created by Peter Zwijnenburg. Through the hybridization of various strains, he successfully cultivated outstanding seedlings, from which Limelight was selected. Since its introduction in the early 1990s, this variety rapidly gained popularity across the United States.

Pee Gee Hydrangea vs Limelight Hydrangea

Pee Gee Hydrangea and Limelight Hydrangea

Pee Gee Hydrangea Limelight Hydrangea
Hardiness zone 3-8 3-9
Mature height 10-20′ (3-6m) 6-8′ (1.8-2.4 m)
Mature width 8-15′ (2.4-4.5m) 6-8′ (1.8-2.4 m)
Growth rate fast fast
Light exposure partial shade, full sun partial shade, full sun
Soil moist, drained moist, drained
Soil pH 6.2-7.2 6.0-7.0
Watering 1-2 times per week in a drought 1-2 times per week in a drought
Diseases fungus fungus
Pests insects, mites insects, mites

Pee Gee is larger

Pee Gee stands out for its larger size compared to Limelight. After a decade of growth, it can reach an impressive height of about 10 feet and a spread of 8 feet.

Conversely, Limelight is more modest in size. Its height typically tops out at 8 feet, often falling in the range of 6 to 6.5 feet, with a slightly narrower width.

Interestingly, despite its smaller stature, Limelight grows more rapidly than Pee Gee, adding about 2 feet each year. Once it attains its maximum size, its growth rate slightly diminishes.

On the other hand, Pee Gee grows at a slower pace of approximately 1 foot per year, which is half the rate of Limelight. However, its growth is consistent, allowing it to eventually attain substantial dimensions.

Therefore, for a more compact hydrangea, Limelight is the preferred choice. But if a larger, tree-like flowering plant is desired for the garden, Pee Gee is the ideal selection.

Their coloring is different

Firstly, focusing on Pee Gee, this variety commences its flowering period in mid-summer with white-cream blossoms. The color stays consistent until autumn, when the flowers transition to a pink hue, adding an additional layer of visual appeal to the hydrangea.

Limelight, another late-summer bloomer among hydrangeas, initially presents flowers in a unique light green (lime) shade, which is the inspiration behind its name. As late summer approaches, particularly in the latter half of August, Limelight’s blossoms gradually shift to white. By mid-autumn, they transform into a pink color.

Considering Limelight’s ability to display three distinct colors throughout the year, it holds a visual edge over its counterpart. This is particularly notable at the onset of its blooming phase, where the lime-colored flowers create a striking spectacle. This is an aspect that Pee Gee, despite its charms, is unable to match.

Pee Gee has larger flowers

Typically, the panicles of Pee Gee hydrangeas average around 10 inches (25 cm) in length. The ones lower on the plant can grow up to 12 inches (30 cm), while the upper panicles are slightly smaller, about 8 inches (20 cm) in length.

In comparison, Limelight hydrangeas feature more compact inflorescences, usually measuring between 6 and 8 inches (15-20 cm). Similar to Pee Gee, the lower panicles of Limelight are somewhat larger than those at the top.

As a result of these larger inflorescences, Pee Gee presents a more lush appearance compared to Limelight.

Limelight slightly hardier

Pee Gee hydrangeas are suitable for growing in USDA zones 3 to 8, making them accessible to a vast majority of gardeners across the United States.

Limelight hydrangeas, on the other hand, have a slightly broader growing range, from USDA zone 3 up to zone 9. This extended range indicates that Limelight is slightly more heat-tolerant than Pee Gee, thus it can thrive in the warmer climates of the southern United States, expanding its accessibility to a larger number of gardeners.

Additionally, Limelight is cultivated in Canada, a country known for its more severe climatic conditions compared to the United States. This demonstrates that Limelight is more resilient and adaptable to a wider spectrum of climatic environments, enhancing its versatility for gardeners in various regions.

Pee Gee is more prone to falling apart

A minor drawback of Pee Gee is its tendency for branches to droop. While its large panicles are visually appealing, their weight can cause the branches to slope downwards.

Limelight faces a similar issue, but to a lesser extent, as its panicles are lighter. This variety typically experiences drooping after heavy rain and wind, rather than under normal conditions.

In contrast, Pee Gee’s branches may bend towards the ground even in calm weather, indicating a greater susceptibility to drooping.

Limelight, therefore, has somewhat sturdier branches that are less prone to bending. Nonetheless, both varieties can benefit from the installation of supports to help maintain their structure and appearance.


Pee Gee and Limelight hydrangeas require sufficient sunlight for healthy growth. They should be planted in areas receiving 4-6 hours of direct sunlight during the morning, followed by shade in the afternoon. Unlike bigleaf hydrangeas, these varieties can also tolerate being in full sun.

Consistent watering is crucial, especially during the first and second years after planting. Each plant needs about 1 gallon of water regularly.

For vibrant blooms, fertilize these hydrangeas annually with a slow-release fertilizer, ideally in spring.

Periodic pruning is necessary to remove old and dead branches, and it’s important to keep the plants free from old leaves and other debris.

Both Pee Gee and Limelight benefit greatly from mulching. Applying a 1-2 inch layer of mulch around them is recommended for optimal health and growth.