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Hydrangea paniculata (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)
Hydrangea paniculata (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)

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Zone
Zones A2, A3, 2-21, 31-41
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water
Moderate

Hydrangea arborescens

Smooth Hydrangea
Hydrangeaceae (Saxifragaceae)
Deciduous, Shrubs

HYDRANGEA

Big, bold leaves and large clusters of long-lasting flowers in white, pink, red, or blue. Summer and fall bloom. Flower clusters may contain sterile flowers (conspicuous, with large, petal-like sepals) or fertile flowers (small, starry petaled); or they may feature a cluster of small fertile flowers surrounded by a ring of big sterile ones (these are called lacecap hydrangeas). Sterile flowers last for a long time (often holding up for months), gradually fading in color.

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)

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Hydrangea arborescens

Native from New York to Iowa, south to Florida and Louisiana. Upright, dense growth to 10 ft. tall and wide. Oval, grayish green, 4–8-in. leaves; white flowers. Prune in late dormant season. In the basic species, most flowers in a cluster are fertile; the few sterile ones are not plentiful enough for a full lacecap effect. Much showier is ‘Annabelle’, which produces enormous (to 1 ft.) globular clusters of sterile flowers over a long season on a plant about 4 ft. tall and wide. ‘Incrediball’ is similar, but the stems are stronger, so the flowers don’t flop. ‘Bella Anna’ and ‘Invincibelle Spirit’ are pink-flowering versions of ‘Annabelle’. ‘White Dome’ grows to about 5 ft. tall and wide, with sturdy stems holding white, dome-shaped flower clusters to 10 in. across; a few sterile flowers surround the tightly packed fertile ones.

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