Weighing in on Incrediball

Ruth_MI(z5MI)July 20, 2011

I've had eight of these for just over a year now. They were 1.6 gallon pots when purchased. I also have a lot of Annabelles.

I'm extremely happy with the Incrediballs, to the point of wishing I could replace all of my Annabelles. (Too many, too mature - would take too much money and too many years for them to catch up in size.)

We had a huge storm come through here a couple days ago. In varying degrees, it ruined most of the Annabelles for the year, despite being staked. True, this wasn't just a hard rain, but still...

The Incrediballs, unstaked, are fine. It's like they said "Storm? What storm?" I love my Annabelles and am continually working on staking methods. As they get bigger it gets a little more challenging. I'm planning a "new improved" staking method for next year, but if I had all Incrediballs, I wouldn't have to bother. That would be really nice!

I'll also mention that the individual Incrediballs have had different habits. Some have fewer tall stems and some more stems that are shorter. I'm sure part of this is due to stems broken in the nursery or on the way home, my somewhat haphazard planting methods, moving one in spring, the age of the plants, and different sun/soil conditions. I didn't intentionally prune any of them since planting, as I wanted to see what they'd do if left alone.

Except on the plant that has the tallest stems, I wouldn't say that the flowers are noticably bigger than Annabelle, but I think they're too young to give a final verdict on that.

Overall, I'm very glad I bought them, and optimistic that they're more than hype. I'd love to hear impressions from others, especially those who also have Annabelles.

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I would love to hear from others as well. The local nursey I go to most often has refused to carry them because of thier poor performance reputation. A hydrangea nursery a little ways from here is not selling them for the same reason. I have really been wanting to try one but no one sells them.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 12:28PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Sorry, can't help you with the Incrediballs, but here's a strategy that might help you with your Annabelles.

Your local Wal-mart/HomeDepot/etc. probably carries the small green wire "fences" that are often used to edge a bed. Well, they also carry taller ones--like about 3 ft high. Insert that taller one--somewhat snugly--around your Annabelles. That "fence" is the right height to hold up Annabelle during a storm, while remaining nearly invisible the rest of the time. I haven't had to mess with with my 2 Annabelles since I wrapped them in the green wire "fence" a couple years ago.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 1:36PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I've heard this for my area as well. Invinsible Spirit is another dud...thats at least from experience and comments on forum.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 1:38PM
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I have those fences around my Annabelles already - but when they get taller they flop right over them. They also slip through the side spaces where the "arches" go down.

I've added bent (rounded) election-type sign frames, but the middle stems still flop. I'm probably going to add plastic 2" mesh. Was thinking about chicken wire, but I think the sharpness would cut the stems.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 1:46PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

ruth, I'm curious. How tall do your Annabelles get? They sound much taller than mine--or my green "fences" are taller than yours. My Annabelle only grows about 1 ft. taller than the "fence." Perhaps you need to prune more in the spring so that yours don't get so tall?

Or are you trying to achieve a totally upright look? I like the slightly arching fountain-shape. If they arched so much that they were breaking off or getting their faces in the mud, that wouldn't be good and I would certainly find a taller "fence" to keep them more upright, but I'd still want the graceful arching they do so attractively.

Are you putting the "fence" rather "snugly" around the base? I found that work best.

Don't know what else I can tell you. Hope you find a solution to your problem.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 11:36AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

I forgot to add above that I personally like the way the branches fall somewhat lower between the arches on the "fence." To me, that gives a more natural, flowing look to the overall plant. If all the branches were at the same height, that would look unnatural to me.

Personal preferences vary, don't they. : )


    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 11:40AM
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I have one incrediball that I planted late last summer and I gotta tell ya I LOVE IT. Last year it looked awful cause I planted it in this heat and many of the leaves fell off. I cut it back to 12 inches above the ground in November and this spring it bounced back with a vengeance. It tripled in size the blooms are big, beautiful and many. It's handled the heat very well however it does droop a little after a thunderstorm but the blooms have never touched the ground. And people stop to ask what kind of plant it is and where did I get it!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 5:40PM
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Hi Kate - I'm 5'6" and I'd say they're almost as tall as me. I've tried no pruning, pruning short, and one year most branches died to the ground. Those established plants still grew tall.

Some of my newer, shorter ones do well with the small fences (and most of mine have peony rings still in place from when they were much smaller).

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 7:43PM
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Here are pictures of an Annabelle (first) and an Incrediball after our big storm. The Incrediball flowers are larger than the Annabelle's too.

Sorry for the huge pictures. I made them smaller in Photobucket, but they're still big here and I don't have time to try to fix them right now.

I'll try to measure the height of each tomorrow since I'm not good at estimating.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 10:24PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Hmmm, don't what to say, Ruth. I can't really tell the size of your fences from the pics, but so there isn't any confusion, the kind of fences I am talking about are definitely taller than peony rings. Peony rings would be too short for my Annabelles also.

The only other thing that occurs to me is that my Annabelles get some sun in the morning and later in the afternoon. Perhaps that extra sun makes mine stronger and therefore not so floppy? I don't know.

I've also noticed that other plants planted in semi-shade sometimes stretch up more, trying to reach a little more sun. Those plants tend to grow about a foot or so taller than their companions that get a little more sun. Are your Annabelles perhaps "stretching up"?

If all else fails, I think you could buy some chicken wire fencing which I'm sure comes in different widths and heights and make your own fence--about one foot shorter than your Annabelles normally get.

Good luck. Hope you find a solution.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 11:36AM
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I measured mine and the Annabelle and Incrediball shown are about 4.5 feet. Other Annabelles are 5.5 feet. When they get tall and wide the fences are less effective for me. Yes, the peony rings are now around their "ankles" given their size. :)

I have one Annabelle that I put a tomato cage in the middle of in late winter. That held part of it up. I have some where I added a second layer of fencing on top of the peony ring, which helped too.

Kate, I agree that we need things about a foot or even two shorter. That's why I decided that this winter I'd shore up the center than encase all in the plastic 2" square fencing/netting. Will report back first good storm next year.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 1:15PM
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One of the reasons I bought the Incrediball is because it was supposed to produce tons of flowers all spring/ summer/fall and those flowers were supposed to be on super-sturdy stems which wouldn't bow down under the weight.

My incrediball has tons of gorgeous, huge flowers but some are laying on the ground and the rest are bowed nearly to the ground. This is only it's second year as got it through the mail last spring and put it right in the ground - and then I transplanted it last fall to a better location where it will stay.

This spring a huge storm went through and broke off a bunch of branches which never grew back. It looks decidedly odd.

I will try looking around for some appropriate "fencing' to put around it next year - the flowers really are just gorgeous so if I can only get them to stay well above the ground, that would be great. The flowers are numerous, huge pure white balls - but the stems they are on are so weak and thin, exactly opposite from what was advertised, that is a huge disappointment.

I was wondering, can I prune this plant well in the late fall/early winter in order to allow it to get more symmetry in it's growth habit or will this harm the plant's ability to grow back out and produce flowers next spring? Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 12:00AM
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I pruned mine back to 12inches above the ground at the end of november last year. I took this advice from the proven winners website ex:

Maintenance Notes:
Prune back in late winter to encourage strong new growth and flowering. Flower color is not affected by soil pH. Best in moist, well drained soil but adapts to most sites.

Pruning won't hurt Incrediball at all because it's like Annabelle. I was nervous when I cut it so low last year but it bounced back so nicely this spring that I'm very happy with the results. My area got hit with a thunderstorm yesterday and it rained all day long. A few of the flowers touched the ground for the first time, however the sun is drying them out and they are starting to pop back up.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 12:57PM
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Missy, Traverse City, Mi Z5

My Incrediball is performing great. I planted it last year in the Spring. It is large, sturdy and full of blooms. I wish I could say the same for my Invincible Spirit, which I planted at the same time. IT is one ugly bush.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 10:27PM
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trustmissy wrote:

"IT is one ugly bush"

So far I agree.

I wonder if 'Bella Anna' looks any better?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 9:51AM
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Thanks DDhydrangea, I will be sure to do a hard prune in the later fall - I appreciate your taking the time to tell me your experience with the pruning of this plant.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 12:11AM
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