Starting a few years ago, I went on a pretty huge Annabelle hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’) kick. I think this mass planting I saw at Barren Ridge Vineyards is partly to blame.
The thing is, Annabelle hydrangea has a lot going for it. Those white puffball blooms are striking (and if you want more of that, check out the ‘Incrediball’ hydrangea). There’s something about big, pure white bloom heads that grab you even more than the pink or blue hydrangeas. Contrast lets you dial things up a notch or three. Annabelle hydrangeas in partial shade, or against a dark backdrop like Otto Luyken laurels, just seem to jump out at you. There are so many ways you can play with these beauties. If you look closely, you can see how great Annabelles look in my landscape planting portfolio!
There are a few things to keep in mind when planting Annabelle hydrangeas. They prefer partial shade, especially shade from the afternoon sun. Believe it or not, we’ve planted them successfully in full sun, but they need babied if you do that. Getting them established isn’t quite as hard as raising a baby walrus in a backyard in Phoenix in July, but it’s still a challenge.
You can generally buy Annabelle hydrangeas in #3, #5, and #7 containers. The #3s almost always look great all season long. After about May, the bigger sizes are hit and miss. They’ll still do well, and they’ll be amazing next year, but if you want instant awesome it’s something to keep in mind.
Annabelle hydrangea grows 3 to 6 feet tall and wide, so be sure to allow plenty of room. You can prune it way back as it blooms on new wood. If you’re in an area with a lot of deer, be aware that the deer may help you with that pruning. Hydrangea arborescens is on a lot of deer safe lists as a native hydrangea, but they’ve definitely chomped on Annabelles. Still, they’re an amazing plant that I can’t get enough of!