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Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Height: 1.2 m (4 feet)
Spread: 1.2 m (4 feet)
Bloom: Large, globe shaped heads June to Frost
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Foliage: large medium green leaves
Pluses: long bloom, winter interest

Annabelle is a stunning performer with huge white round flowers all summer long. It is easy to grow in most soil types although it does not like dry conditions. Most sources say to plant in part shade but it will tolerate full sun if you can give it constant moisture. During the hottest part of the summer it will droop in the afternoon sun but a half bucket of water at the base will perk it right up.

Annabelle is very hardy. I prune mine to about 18 inches each spring and it rebounds to more than 4 feet tall and wide but early June. The large flower heads can get very heavy, particularly after a good rain and as such may need staking. I have a peony ring with cross supports through the middle of the ring which I put over my Annabelle Hydrangeas before they get too tall and the stems grow right through them, hiding the support. Pruning to a slightly taller height of 18-24 inches also helps the stems thicken towards the bottom providing additional support.

Flower heads, which can grow as large as 10 inches, start out lime green in June, open throughout July and August to white and fade to browns and cream by fall. Since it blooms on new growth, some flower heads are will continue to open throughout August.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' June
Annabelle Hydrangea lime flowerheads in June
Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' July
Annabelle Hydrangea in full bloom in July

The faded flower heads add a nice texture to the fall garden. You can also cut flower heads early and dry them for indoor use.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' in fall
Annabelle Hydrangea Blooms turn brown in fall

I leave my hydrangeas in the garden for winter interest and do not prune until new buds appear in spring.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' in winter
Annabelle Hydrangea provides winter interest as well

Propagation: Hydrangea arborescens are very easy to propagate. Branches root easily in soil. Just bend a branch to the ground, place some dirt and a rock over the middle and it will root. Next year, cut off the rooted branch from the main plant and you have a new shrub. Side shoots can often be dug up this way as well.

Garden Locations: Bird Sanctuary and Kitchen Patio Garden.

2 Responses

  1. John McLaughlin
    | Reply

    I have had my Annabella Hydrangea for some 15+ years. Each year I treat it the same, that is basically fertilizing in the spring and then leave it alone. No real pruning in the fall. It has bloomed faithfully each year.

    This year however, the flowers formed but then before any real bloom they just seemed to fizzle out and die. I’m at a loss as to why this has happened. I see the same plant in other gardens around the neighbour hood and their plants seem to be as hardy as every. so it does not appear to be connected to the extremely snowy winter we had. I have photos if that would help. Thank you.

    • Everchanging Gardener
      | Reply

      Hi John. That’s odd, never heard of that before. Since it was so isolated the only thing I can think of is some form of bug? We’ve had significant problems with different types of small webworms & caterpillars here this year & they completed ate new growth on some of my plants almost overnight. In one case they ate part way down the fresh stem & the tops drooped. Hope that helps.

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