Incrediball® HydrangeaHydrangea arborescens 'Abetwo' (PP#20,571)
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Hydrangea arborescens 'Abetwo' (PP#20,571)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Incrediball® Hydrangea is a hugely improved version of the traditional Annabelle Hydrangea that has none of the faults of that old variety. The enormous flower heads are almost 12 inches across, packed with pure-white blooms for months. In fall they turn a gorgeous chartreuse green. This bush reaches 5 feet tall and wide, covered to the ground by large leaves of good substance, with a beautiful rich-green color. Use this plant around your home for endless flowering, grow it in garden beds or open woodlands, or make a great background or informal hedge by planting them in a row.
The Incrediball® Hydrangea should be grown in full sun in cooler zones, and with some afternoon shade in hot ones. Plant it in cool, moist, well-drained soil and water regularly. Fertilize for the best growth, and trim in spring to remove any dead wood. Even if killed to the ground in winter, it will re-sprout and bloom reliably, with many flower heads. This plant is normally free of pests or diseases and easy to grow, yet gorgeous for months and months.
Everyone knows that old classic garden plant the Annabelle Hydrangea. Without doubt it’s a great plant, and if you live in colder zones you will know it as a standard choice with its big white flowerheads bringing color in summer and into the fall. But oh, dear! It can be a headache, often needing staking, collapsing in rain, and sometimes we have all prayed for a better version. Well it has happened – our prayers have been answered with a fabulous new plant that is better in every way – it’s the Incrediball® Hydrangea. Wow!
The Incrediball Hydrangea is a cold-resistant hydrangea that blooms reliably even in zones 3 and 4. Yet it grows well all the way into zone 8, and this beautiful shrub brings enormous balls of pure-white blooms in summer that last into fall, and even look great when they have turned soft beige for the winter. This plant grows quickly into a full, rounded deciduous shrub reaching 4 to 5 feet in height, and spreading up to 5 feet across. The strong, sturdy stems stand up well, and hold the enormous flower heads high and proud, even in wet weather. The stems are covered in large leaves of great substance, 8 inches long and 6 inches wide, with attractive vein patterning and bold serrations along the edges. This handsome foliage makes a great plant in spring and early summer, but soon we see small clusters of tiny green buds at the tip of every branch. These quickly expand into broad domes of many pure-white flowers, almost 12 inches across. There are over 500 flat white flowers, each an inch across, with four broad petals, in each cluster, and if you look closely you will see another 2,000 tiny flowers tucked among them, building a full flower head almost the size of a basketball.
This is a much bigger bloom than seen on the Annabelle Hydrangea, yet it doesn’t flop and collapse, because the stems are thick and sturdy, holding up the bloom heads without any staking needed. During rain they may droop a little, but as they dry they bounce right back up again. The blooms last an incredible 4 months, gradually turning from white to a fabulous chartreuse green. In colder zones the first cold nights may flush them with pink tones, and then as winter comes, they turn soft beige, still looking handsome and lovely even in the snow. Better still, you can cut stems at any stage and hang them upside down in a shady place to dry. Strip off the dead leaves and you have wonderful dried flowers to fill vases in your home all winter.
Use the Incrediball Hydrangea around your home for its beautiful foliage and long bloom season. Grow it in beds around the garden, or plant it in a row for a beautiful background or garden boundary. For rows or groups, space the plants 4 to 6 feet apart, allowing enough room at the front of a bed for their spread without covering lawn areas or paths. Use it on the sunny side of a woodland area as a wonderful transition into nature – did we mention this is an American native shrub? Well it is, and it fits just as well in natural or wild gardens as it does in the most formal gardens.
Grow the Incrediball Hydrangea in full sun in zones 3 to 6, and with some afternoon shade in warmer zones. It needs sun to develop the strong stems that hold up those huge flower heads. Plants in too much shade may flop a little, but they will still bloom and look great. This plant needs plenty of moisture, but the soil should be well-drained, so use organic material when planting, like compost or peat moss, and use it too as a mulch over the roots to keep them moist and cool. Water regularly, and avoid allowing this plant to wilt, which it will do if the soil becomes too dry. Fertilize in spring with a blend for flowering shrubs to develop the best bloom size. This plant is normally free of pests or diseases, and it just needs a spring trim. Wait until you see some new growth and remove all dead stems cleanly. Trim back the remaining branches by about one-half, cutting just above a strong pair of buds. Even if, in a colder zone, all the branches are killed to the ground, don’t worry. The secret to the success of the Incrediball Hydrangea blooming in cold zones is that it flowers on new shoots, not only on older stems, as Mophead Hydrangeas do. This means that even if winter cold kills the stems to the ground, they re-sprout and bloom away as if nothing had happened at all.
The Incrediball Hydrangea is a garden variety of an American native plant, the smooth hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens. Found in woodland and along streams, from New York to Florida, wild plants have soft, greenish flowers that are not very attractive. In the late 19th century a unique wild plant with large white flowers in a big head was discovered in woodland in Ohio. It was grown in gardens as ‘Grandiflora’, until superseded by an improved form with bigger flower heads called ‘Annabelle’. That plant was first released by The Gulf Stream Nursery from Watchapreague, Virginia. In 2002 Timothy Wood, from Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, Michigan, collected seed from some Annabelle Hydrangeas and grew a large batch of seedlings. Among them he found one that was bigger and sturdier, with very strong stems holding up enormous flower heads. After extensive trials it was patented in 2009 with the name ‘Abetwo’. Spring Meadow have released it with the trademark name Incrediball®, as part of the Proven Winners® series of great garden shrubs. If you have been frustrated by the shortcomings of the Annabelle Hydrangea, or if you want a great white flowering summer shrub for your garden, the order these plants right away, because our stock will soon be gone – that’s how good this plant is.