WHERE TO PLANT AN ARBORESCENS
Annabelle and other arborescens are very versatile. Like most other hydrangeas, they prefer morning sun and afternoon shade or dappled shade all day, especially in the south. In northern areas of the U.S., 'Annabelle' thrives in all day sun. Although some books say it does better than other hydrangeas in heavy shade, I have not found this to be the case. The more morning sun it gets the better it blooms for me. Arborescens will thrive in the deep south as well as cold northern climates. (zones 8-3)
ANNABELLE'S HEAVY, DROOPY BLOOM HEADS
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.
Here are a few tricks one can use with all large blooming arborescens to reduce and even eliminate the problem. The picture below is of another type arborescens, 'Vaughn's Lillie.':
- Plant Annabelle next to a decorative fence.
The pictures above are from Linda Christine of Aiken, SC. This is one of the best ideas I've seen for staking the heavy blooms of Hydrangea arborescens. H. arborescens 'Vaughn's Lillie' is the hydrangea being supported here. The iron fencing was purchased at Lowes. (Linda's garden was featured in the May 2008 issue of Southern Living)
Plant at least three Annabelle shrubs together.
As Annabelle's mature they will grow together and support one another somewhat. Plant them three to four feet apart.
- Prune plants only sparingly.
If your hydrangeas tend to flatten in the rain, it may help to prune Annabelle to about 18"-24" tall rather than cutting it to the ground every year. This will allow the stems to thicken a little each year, becoming stouter and better able to support the other branches and blooms. In addition, the heads will be more plentiful but slightly smaller (not so small that you will be disappointed). The slightly smaller heads will be less likely to droop.
If you live in a more northern area, you may not be able to use this tip. The Annabelle stems may not survive the winter, and thus they will be new from the ground each year.
(Go to Pruning: Method 2 for basic pruning techniques)
- Put a short wire fence around each plant.
If young Annabelle plants are surrounded by wire fencing before they put out new branches in the spring, the blooms will be held up off the ground. Garden centers often sell short (18"), green wire fencing for lining flower beds. I cut these into lengths that would encircle the base of the Annabelle (sort of like a short tomato cage). Then when the Annabelle leafs out, the wire is completely hidden. The pictured to the right shows Annabelle plants that are each surrounded by fencing (you can't see it).
ALWAYS PURCHASE ANNABELLE WHILE IT IS IN BLOOM
WILD vs TRUE ANNABELLLE
I often hear from gardeners whose Annabelle blooms will not fully develop. They report that the blooms are a flat, lacecap type bloom, which is not typical of 'Annabelle'. Sometimes these blooms are described as "fuzzy." I believe that these hydrangeas that were supposed to be 'Annabelle' are really a wild type arborescens. Some of these hydrangeas are quite beautiful in their own way, but they are usually not what the gardener had in mind. This is the reason for purchasing Annabelle (or any hydrangea for that matter) while it is blooming.
'Invincibelle Spirit' is the culmination of years of experimentation and hundreds (maybe thousands)of horticultural trials. It is the first pink Hydrangea arborescens to be made available to the public. Find out more about this amazing hydrangea at: 'Invincibelle Spirit. And stay tuned for more pink arborescens soon to be introduced to the public.