Voluptuous is the word that comes to mind every time I look at my Annabelle Hydrangeas. Huge bloom clusters can be 10 - 12 inches across and are so heavy that they weigh down the branches. The flower clusters are a pure white, and they hold up well in a vase where they can be enjoyed indoors. Annabelle is a selection of Hydrangea arborescens, native to the Eastern United States.
This smooth hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens, is much easier to grow here in the South than the common mophead Hydrangea from Asia. Smooth Hydrangea is considerably drought tolerant. It loves the shade and grows quite happily in the dry shade of my woodland garden. Annabelle is also very cold-tolerant. Even if you live where it is too cold to grow macrophylla hydrangea, you can grow Annabelle. Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' is hardy in USDA Zones 3-10.
Unlike the common mophead hydrangea, Annabelle will bloom every year, even if pruned in Winter or if we have a late frost. You see, Annabelle blooms on new growth, whereas macrophyllas bloom on last season's growth. Also, since Annabelle Hydrangea blooms on new growth, unlike most other hydrangeas, this one will rebloom again in late summer if spent blooms are removed.
I enjoy cutting Annabelle blooms to take inside. The large flower clusters hold up well in a vase.