Hydrangea Annabelle is the flowering shrub we gardeners dream about. It is brutally hardy, blooms reliably year after year, and just like a perennial, it increases in lushness and size with each season. Unlike a perennial, it does not need dividing to maintain its vigor. Just plant it and forget it. This shrub isn’t very fussy about soil and will tolerate heavy shade or full sun. At the end of the season, cut it down to the ground and it will rebound the next spring. Need some winter interest? Allow the dead mop heads to remain in the garden to be harvested in the spring. Want some giant dried flowers for indoors? Snip and dry Hydrangea blooms during the growing season when they turn from lime to white and then green. Grown in full shade, Annabelle mop heads will bloom upright. In part shade or sun, the flower heads will arc over trying to follow sunlight. The shrub remains gracefull regardless of how its flowers grow. However, in a tightly managed perennial border, the gardener may choose to restrain arcing blooms by staking the shrub with strong supports.
Recently, the adventurous people at Proven Winners introduced an improved version of Annabelle which they named "Incrediball" or Hydrangea Abetwo.This cultivar has beefy stems and massive blooms that do not flop over even in heavy rainfall. Each bloom holds four times the number of flowers as Annabelle does and like its cousin, it will grow in sun to part shade. Both Annabelle and Incrediball are hardy in zones 3 to 9 and will grow 4 to 5 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide. Blooms begin in mid summer and continue until fall.