Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Incrediball Hydrangea -- from Annabelle to Forever and Ever

Forever and Ever Hydrangea
Annabelle hydrangea vs Incrediball.   Limelight vs. Firestick? Should one of these lovelies finds itself in the right spot, the show is unlike any other perennial shrub.  Adding structure and soft hues to the garden, these low maintenance beauties are a sophisticated yet simple solution for a busy gardener.  The look articulates high fashion, but the price bespeaks "outlet mall."

Especially once the furor abates over the initial introduction.  Recall those lines when the I-Phone first hit the streets?  Gardeners have been known to spend serious greenbacks on a new introduction.  The more frugal wait a year or two to let the price settle.

Vintage plants command more respect than antiquated electronics, but the new technology curve for both is comparable.

Forever and Ever Hydrangea blooms on "old wood" meaning the plant will send up fresh shoots and sprout blooms early in the season.  Predecessor plants would die back to the roots in the cold months, without enough time in one growing season to mature.  The result was leafy greenery with occasional blooms. 

Until this century, only the Annabelle and similar white blooming hydrangeas were considered reliable in zones five and six

How things change.  Technology's not limited to the keyboard.  Grower geeks tinkered they came up with several hydrangea shrubs capable blooms each year.

Incrediball Hydrangea
Firestick Hydrangea
Enter the Incrediball Hydrangea, an Annabelle on steroids.  These hydrangea shrubs sprout endless white balls of blooms early and often.  Full and lovely, but sometimes leggy or spindly.

Need color?  With the right amount of iron additive, pink blooming shrubs can turn a pale blue. A nail will do, but less safe for the soles.  An unusual color not oftern found, blue contrasts well with white, yellow, lavender and pink blossoms.

Firestick hydrangeas are especially vigorous, but become top heavy without pruning. 

Oakleaf Hydrangea
Hydrangea make elegant and easy bouquets, spilling over the sides of the vase for a voluptuos look.  Dried, hydrangea last all winter. 

Never cut hydrangea shrubs to the ground in the fall.  Allowing the dried blooms to collect fresh snow adds structure and interest far beyond the growing season.  In the spring trim back at to notch below the bloom.  Shape overzealous branches with a quick snip.

Location?  No hot direct sun. Tidy hydies need water, but in moderation once established. 

Avoid Oakleaf Hydrangea if deer frequent the yard.  Otherwise Oakleaf add strong structure to shade.

Samantha Hydrangea
Samantha Hydrangea grows profusely in morning sun on the warm easterly side of the yard.  Samantha's leaves are pure white on the bottom side.  When the wind ruffles her branches, the leaves rustle and flash like an aspen tree.

Absolute showstopper. 

More Articles of Interest:

Green Fences -- Boxwood Hedges to Hydrangea Hedgerows

No More Bad Haircuts -- How to Trim Shrubs