Helping droopy Annabelle

lalalaJuly 17, 2014

My two Annabelles have defeated their cages and are drooping pretty badly this summer. I have them in a two-layer system: peony cage holding up the center with stakes/rubberized wire holding up the outer branches, which has worked well for the last three years. This year they have grown so large and the flowers are so big that they've drooped right down over the top of the supports and are pushing the wire down. The centers are splayed open.

So my question is: do you think it's worth trying to prop them up this summer? They are so big that it would be a two-person job, and I'm not really sure it would be successful. Or should I just wait until spring when I can see what I'm doing?

Also, would it be a good idea to cut them back in the fall or early spring? I have had them for (I think) 4 years and have not yet cut them back. I know I'm likely to get smaller blooms, but that that the stems may be weaker.

And does anyone have a brilliant support system that's a bit taller but still mostly invisible? maybe chicken wire fencing?


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Springwood_Gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

Trim old stems to a max height of 24" in spring when they're starting to leaf out. Under those conditions, the support you've already provided should be adequate.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:53PM
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BungalowMonkeys z6 VA

A friend of mine uses a stake and fishing wire system. Her annabelles are typically 5 ft tall every year based on her pruning height (which I cant remember what that was) and form a hedge of five each. She uses stakes that are roughly 3.5 - 4ft out of the ground. Think they may be in the ground a foot or more, to keep from tipping over. She stakes them every few feet along the front and back of the hedge to form a frame. Then she takes heavy gauge fishing wire and wraps it around each stake, going from stake to stake. Once she is done with a row, she secures it tightly and does another row. Think she has 6 or 7 rows of wire supporting the hedge. When you place the stakes you dont want to do it too close to the plant, but not to far eaither. Too close and the flowers will still have a decent floop. Too far and the stake system will be visable and possibly miss mainy of the flowers.

The problem with this method is its best to do it in spring before everything starts blooming. Suppose if you did it carefully you could do it now without damaging the plant. Plus it would give you an idea of where the stakes would need to be next year. Her system works great. Hope this helps some. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 8:55AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

I just went to Wall-mart or Home Depot (can't remember which) and bought that standard green wire "fence" -- about 3 ft. tall--that you just stick in the ground. I wrapped that around my Annabelles. That was 2 years ago. My two Annabelles have stayed erect (more or less) as that time.

It was a bit of a wresting match--one person holding back Annabelle's branches AND at the same time inserting the "fence" in close enough to support the hydrangea's canes. On the other hand, you want the fence out far enough so that if some of the canes want to lean over, they will "rest" their big heads on the fence and therefore go no lower than 3 ft.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:54AM
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Springwood_Gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

Good stakes for larger plants can include rebar, angle-iron, or a metal fencepost (for wire fences).

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 8:38PM
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You can buy those green stakes (or bamboo) at Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe's in various lengths from probably 2' up to 8' (and the taller they are, the thicker they are). There are many types of ties as well in that section - twine, tape (not sticky tape but green vinyl 1/4" wide tape, twist ties, plastic covered wire, etc,) Usually two 5 foot stakes and some twine is all you need to tie up floppy, droopy hydrangeas but you can use more if you wish. I bought a lot of them last year for using on tall begonias, lilies, and some hydrangeas. Use twine to time up many limbs though.

Here is an example of a 4 foot stake in a begonia pot with a twist tie (you can buy a spool of it that includes a cutter). I cropped into a small section of the full photo.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 8:21AM
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Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 12:07AM
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