Botanical: Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
Common: Smooth Hydrangea
Family: Hydrangeaceae (hydrangea family)
General Characteristics: Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in part shade. Tolerates full sun only if grown with constant moisture. Intolerant of drought, with foliage tending to decline considerably in dryish conditions. This species blooms on new wood, and may be pruned back close to the ground in late winter each year to revitalize and to encourage vigorous stem growth and best form. Plants may die to the ground in harsh winters. If not pruned back, any weakened and/or damaged stems should be removed in early spring.
Tip: Although 'Annabelle' stems are erect and generally considered to be stronger than those of the species, the heaviness of the flower heads, particularly when moistened by rain, can cause the heads to droop to the ground and thus require staking. Everyone who grows this beautiful hydrangea is aware of a very important challenge. The blooms on 'Annabelle' are so large that they tend to bend to the ground after a rain. This can become a problem so severe that the entire shrub is flattened. Pruning stems back to the ground in late winter each year helps promote stem vigor.
'Annabelle' is a smooth hydrangea cultivar which features much larger flowers than the species. It is a deciduous shrub with a rounded habit which typically grows 3-5' tall. Clusters of sterile, white flowers appear in huge, symmetrical, rounded heads (corymbs) which typically grow 8-12" across. Blooms in June for up to two months, sometimes with a small repeat bloom in the fall. Dark green, serrate leaves (3-8" long).
Use: Mass in a part shade area of the mixed shrub border for long-lasting and often spectacular summer bloom. Great cut flower. Also a good specimen or accent for protected locations near homes or patios.