The most popular of the H. arborescens is “Annabelle’, and for good reason. First, it can be cut back in late winter because it produces flowers on new growth. There is no need to prune immediately after flowering as with other hydrangeas. Second, it dependably produces large heads of white flowers regardless of the pH so you never have to fuss with soil amendments to get the color you want. As the summer progresses, the flowers turn to a beautiful shade of green and then brown so the plant provides interest in the garden for a long time. When heads are in the green stage they can be cut and preserved for dried arrangements. The plant freely suckers so can easily be propagated.
Type: Deciduous shrub
Outstanding Feature: Large heads of white flowers that turn green and then brown
Form: Upright; arching stems
Growth Rate: Rapid
Bloom: Flat topped cormybs 8-10” across of white flowers in summer
Foliage: Large, coarse, dark green leaves 3-7” long, opposite, and simple.
Size: 3-5’ H x 4-6’ W
Light: Full sun to part shade (especially at noon in hot climates)
Soil: Average, moist, well-drained; not drought tolerant
Hardiness: Zones 3-9
Care: Cut back to 6-12” in late winter or early spring for neater appearance.
Pests and Diseases: Slugs; susceptible to mildew, mold, rust, leaf spots and ringspot virus.
Propagation: Division in early spring; soft wood cuttings in early summer.