Hydrangeas are outstanding plants for partial shade, and areas in your garden with morning sun and afternoon shade. If you have rich, moist soil, they will thrive in full sun too. For gardeners in colder areas though, the only hydrangeas that flower reliably are white, while knowing that pink and blue hydrangeas make a more spectacular show – or at least, that is how it used to be. Thanks to plant breeders, new forms of hardy hydrangeas have been created, and the Invincibelle® Ruby Hydrangea is one of the best. Its bright red buds open to rich pink centers, creating a two-tone effect, and even in cold regions it will flower well, in late summer and fall. If you live in warmer areas, you get the bonus of an early flowering too, giving you blooms from early summer right into fall. To call it ‘invincible’ is no exaggeration!
The Invincibelle Ruby Hydrangea is a deciduous shrub, with numerous stems, forming a bush between 3 and 4 feet tall, and almost as wide. The large leaves – 3 to 4½ inches long and across – are a mid-green color, and they grow all along the stems. Even a bush that is not yet flowering is an attractive green addition to any bed. Unlike the traditional mop-head hydrangeas, this hydrangea flowers on new stems – so it doesn’t need to have older branches carry through the winter. That is why it is so suitable for colder regions, because even if it is killed to the ground, it will re-shoot and bloom. In warmer zones, when the older stems do survive winter, the first flush of blooms form by June on side-shoots from those stems. Then, the new stems coming from the base begin to bloom in late July or August, and they continue into fall. Those are the stems that guarantee blooms even in zones 3, 4 and 5, where mop-head hydrangeas are almost impossible to bloom.
Growing Invincibelle Ruby Hydrangea Shrubs
The dome-shaped flower heads are up to 5½ inches in diameter, and they are packed with around 150 large flowers of the petalled, sterile type, mixed with about 300 small, fertile flowers. If you have grown the very popular ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea, then you know this bloom – except it is pink. That’s right, after being limited to white hydrangeas in colder regions, now you can enjoy pink blooms – and what a rich pink they are. In bud the flowers are deep, pinky-red, and when they open the inner surface of the petals is a bright, silvery pink, creating a wonderful rich look. Each head stays attractive for at least 4 weeks, making a great display in your garden at a time when the spring flowers have faded into memory.
Grow the Invincibelle Ruby Hydrangea in partial shade, or in full sun in cold zones, provided the soil is moist. It will grow in most garden soils, which should be well-drained, but this plant is not tolerant of drought, so afternoon shade and regular watering will give you the best results. The north-facing side of your home is an ideal place to plant a row, or it looks great mixed among other shade-loving shrubs under trees or in wooded areas. Plant them among larger shrubs around your home, in the shade of evergreens, but not deep underneath them. In warmer zones, cut back the branches in spring to between ⅔ and ½ of their length. In colder zones, remove all dead branches at the ground. Remove spent flowers as they fade, to keep your bush upright and attractive. This plant normally doesn’t suffer from any pests or diseases, when grown in moist, well-drained soil.
History and Origins of Invincibelle Ruby Hydrangea Shrubs
Unlike the mop-head hydrangea, which came from China, the Invincibelle Ruby Hydrangea was created from an American species, the smooth hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens. This bush grows in woodland and along streams, from New York to Florida, and west into Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. The wild plant has soft, greenish flowers that are mostly of the fertile type, so it is not very attractive. The popular variety ‘Annabelle’ is a form of this plant, with many large, white sterile florets. One summer day, around 2003, a graduate student in horticulture was hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, when he saw something most other people would have passed by. It was a plant of the smooth hydrangea with pinkish flowers, not the usual white ones. He took it to Dr. Tom Ranney, at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mill River, North Carolina. At this division of North Carolina University, they crossed Olson’s find, which he had called ‘WesserFalls’, where he found it, with the Annabelle Hydrangea, in a complex breeding program that generated thousands of seedlings. Among them just one had the large sterile flowers of ‘Annabelle’, but in pink. That plant was called Invincibelle Spirit, but it was not perfect. The stems were weak and floppy, and the color was not great. So they kept working, and eventually created a sturdy plant with rich pink flowers, which they patented in 2017 with the name `NCHA3`.
That plant, with its amazing story of luck and perseverance, is the Invincibelle® Ruby Hydrangea. We are excited to have found a great stock of these plants, grown from stem pieces to preserve 100% of the special genetics of the plant. We know how popular it is, because now, finally, gardeners in colder zones can enjoy beautiful pink hydrangeas in their gardens. This plant is a real winner, and our stock will soon be gone, so order now, while these remarkable plants are still available.