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