I Love the Fire Light Hydrangea

Mar 13, 2020 | Love This!

Name: Hydrangea paniculata Fire Light aka the Fire Light Hydrangea

Type of Plant: A medium to large shrub that flowers from late July until hard frost. Grow this hydrangea in full sun to part sun. 

Why I Love/Hate this plant:  This panicle hydrangea flowers on new growth, which means that it doesn’t matter if it’s a cold winter or if someone prunes it back in the spring, it will still bloom. I love the bright pink color that the flowers turn in the fall. I also love how the plant grows in a round, bushy shape, unlike some paniculata varieties that are more upright and almost tree-like. This shrub is in bloom  from late-July into October, changing from white to bright pink and then wine-red flowers.

A Word to the Wise: If you have a place that gets late-afternoon into evening sun, put the Fire Light hydrangea there because the end-of-day sunbeams illuminate this plant. Prune this hydrangea in the spring, first removing crossed/rubbing branches, then any that are growing into the center of the plant, and finally trimming it back by up to a third if it needs rejuvenation. Frankly, when placed in the right location this shrub doesn’t need much pruning.

You can see the Fire Light hydrangea on the right, this photo taken in early July. (Note the Flower Carpet ‘Pink Splash’ Rose in full bloom at the bottom of the photo.)

In August the Fire Light Hydrangea starts to gradually turn pink. In this photo the Fire Light is on the right and for comparison the Little Quick Fire is on the left. Little Quickfire (and the taller Quickfire) start to turn pink in August. Fire Light is close behind.

In late August through September Fire Light is an OMG Hydrangea. First the vibrant pink you see here in September, then into a wine red in October. This is a “WOW!” shrub, and it’s easy to grow.

14 Comments

  1. Sammie Pearce

    I just discovered your website and blog while searching for answers about what to do with all the rocks in our clay soil. Oh my! Thank-you!! I am so grateful to you for sharing your knowledge! We moved from California to northern Idaho 1 year ago. I have only just begun! I found last year I had to buy an attachment for our drill to be able to dig holes to plant all the bulbs and hostas I purchased. We have a huge shady back yard that I am excited to plant in. I have always had hot sunny gardens before. I appreciate your info about hydrangeas as they are one of the main things I want to grow in our zone 6b. Can I grow them in dappled shade under the many birches we have in our yard?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Sammie
      This type of panicle hydrangea does best in full sun. But you can grow the H. macrophylla and serrata varieties – such as Endless Summer, Enchantress and Tuff Stuff in dappled shade very successfully

      Reply
  2. Dale Kapp

    Darn, I was told the Fire Light was for shade, and it would give the colors you speak of for it’s transitions. Now, having 2, sounds like I need to dig them up and relocate them, I planted them as small shrubs last year. Can I lift them now?
    Thanks C. C.

    Dale (FGC)

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Dale,
      Yes, dig them and move them now to a sunnier spot now. They’ll move easily, only having been in the ground for a year.

      Reply
  3. Diane Flowers

    I have had my Firelight Hydrangea for three years now and it is planted in full sun. But I am disappointed that I never get the bright red blooms that it is supposed to have in late fall. Can you give me some advice. Thanks.

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Diane – if it’s in full sun and not coloring at all, you don’t have a Fire Light. Maybe it’s a Lime Light that was miss-labeled.

      Reply
  4. Grace Demaio

    I have the fire lights and they bloomed nicely this first year. The only issue is I have some yellow leaves. Anything I should do about that?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      If those yellow leaves are the older, lower on the stems foliage, it’s probably a sign that the plants have dried out at some point. Water them deeply once a week using a sprinkler or soaker hose. Hand watering is never enough, and frequent, automatic irrigation that comes on every other day for 25 minutes is too shallow.

      Reply
  5. Kassandra Lawwill

    What is the difference between a fire light hydrangea and a quick fire hydrangea ?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Great question, Kassandra.
      Both are Hydrangea paniculata culitavars. Both come into flower in mid-summer. Beyond that, Quick Fire is a more upright growing plant that can very quickly (that’s how the name makes sense) grow to 8 or 12 feet tall. It has a fairly upright growing habit as well, so perfect for a mixed shrub border, off the corner of a house or other full sun location where it can grow tall. Additionally, Quick Fire flowers are a panicle shape that is a bit lacy. These blooms are a combination of fertile and infertile flowers, and as they mature they turn from white to pink.

      Fire Light is not as much of an upright growing form. Fire Light is a rounder shaped plant. The flowers are also fuller and rounder, and they start out white and transform to pink and then a wine-red color in the fall. So use this variety in places where you want a fuller, rounder shaped plant that is about 6 feet tall and eight feet wide.

      Reply
  6. Deb

    Hi there gardenlady. Love the pics of your Firelight hydrangea and wondering why mine never seem to get that bright fall color. I have two that are in full sun until late afternoon. They bloom profusely, but as they age their color turns greenish with a hint of pink around the edges of the petals, and that’s it. What do I need to do to get the lovely pink and red?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Deb,
      You’ve got all the right conditions for this plant to go from white to pink to wine-red. So the only thing I could suggest is that your plants aren’t really Fire Light – maybe they were mislabeled. This does happen in the industry, since thousands of plants often move trough thousands of hands and thousands of miles. In any of that journey, mislabeling can occur, even if the utmost attention is being paid…we are humans and it’s an imperfect world. That’s the best I can offer, except to say all the best from my garden to yours.

      Reply
  7. Grace DeMaio

    I have the fire lights. They started out beautifully with the white blooms in the summer. It is now Sept 3 and there is no sign of pink. In fact, the blooms seem to be turning brownish. So I guess I am not going to see the bright red ending in the fall. Any advice? This was the first year they are in the ground so maybe I am expecting too much? Thanks.

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      If they are going immediately to brown, it’s likely that they dried up at some point. Make sure they are growing in a place where they get sun for at least 6 hours, as that helps the pink to be most intense.

      Reply

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