Great Plant Pick: Smooth hydrangea

  • Wednesday, July 10, 2024 1:30am
  • Life
This hydrangea will reach full bloom in summer. The fading flowers look attractive well into autumn. (Richie Steffen)

This hydrangea will reach full bloom in summer. The fading flowers look attractive well into autumn. (Richie Steffen)

What: This hydrangea — known as smooth hydrangea or hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ — is an exceptional selection of an Eastern U.S. species. It is one of the best white mophead hydrangeas for our area. In summer, huge rounded flower heads appear and mature to a gleaming cream and white. As the flowers age in late summer, they turn a glowing pale lime green. It is a very easy shrub to grow and will reliably flower every year.

Where: This hydrangea grows best in full sun to light or open shade. A location protected from hot sun will keep the flowers from prematurely fading or scorching. A rich, moist to well-drained soil produces the best growth, although this hydrangea will grow well in sand or clay. It does not like to dry out in summer and will benefit from regular summer watering. In sunny locations or in sandy soil, frequent watering during dry weather may be necessary. The flower color of this plant will not change with the acidity of the soil; it will always be white.

Size: Reaches 4 feet high by 6 feet wide in 10 years.

Care: Pruning to the ground in winter will create lush growth in the spring for the largest blooms. The large flowers are spectacular, but can flop in rain or with overhead watering. Minimal pruning will give more and smaller blooms that are less likely to flop.


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