Annabelle Hydrangea

annie_1_2006July 12, 2006

I have a beautiful Annabelle that has enormous blooms and is doing just great ... except it is standing alone by the corner of our deck and it has been raining, raining, raining here ... and my beautiful Annabelles are all resting on the ground, some of them broken. I've had it for about 5 years and each year it just gets bigger and bigger and the blooms are monstrous. Should it be divided? Is there a strong holder for these heavy blooms?Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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There is no remedy, this is the nature of the plant.
The only thing you could do is NOT to cut it in a spring, then you'll have more, but smaller flowers which might not bend stems so much down.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 12:51AM
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I'm sorry, I didn't quite understand the wording of your post. You said NOT to cut it in the spring. I don't cut it in the spring at all. I don't do any trimming at all until probably October when I cut Annabelle to the ground and she comes back bigger each year. The blooms are really so, so large ... it would be great if they were a bit smaller. Please advise again. Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 1:04AM
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If you dont cut your annabelle down in the fall, you will get a lot of smaller blooms next summer. It will be beautiful. I cut mine down a few years back and the blooms did the same thing, big and droopy. I dont cut it back anymore and its perfect- smaller blooms and tons of them. They dont droop too much-maybe after a huge downpour, but they pop back up. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 8:37AM
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Exactly, NO pruning (spring or fall, doesn't matter) will result in smaller, but more numerous flowers which will not droop as readily as the large ones.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 10:40AM
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I always thought you're supposed to cut them down each Spring to promote new growth and stronger stems. Am I wrong?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 10:39AM
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bellarosa, you'll promote stronger stems by NOT cutting them, however flowers produced by old stems will be smaller, though much more numerous due to the larger quantity of latteral buds.
By using this fact you could be creative in your pruning and depending on how you'll see the shrub, from front only or from all sides, you may prune some and leave some of the last year growth.
For example, in one planting where I see shrub from the front only i'm trying to leave most strong canes around front part of the shrub. They will serve as a support for the fresh (pliable) canes growing from the center and leaning toward the viewer.
Also, this way you'll have a slightly prolonged display since unpruned stem will start blooming a tad earlier than the fresh one.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 11:07AM
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ostrich(3a AB)

ego, I would like to thank you for this really helpful information on pruning - I certainly will do this with my new Annabelle this winter! Thank you to bellarosa for asking this question!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 6:57PM
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silvergold(z5a WI)

This is a bit off topic but I had to share it. My DH was mowing the lawn Friday evening and I was out doing work in the garden. He was mowing by a clump of Annabelle hydrangeas and the front of the lawn mower must of caught one. He mowed right over one giant floor and the whole stem and didn't even know it!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 9:09PM
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Thank you, thank you all so very, very much for the super information on Annabelle! I will do what you recommend and I can hardly wait until next summer to see the results. I'm so pleased that I put my hydrangea question on this forum. You guys are great!!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 11:47PM
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I don't think you can really beat Annabelle. I lived in northern NH for many years and this hydrangea was a staple in many of the gardens of homes in my community. I was horrified when some johnnycomelately removed the Annabelle from the triangle that marked the entry to the village; replacing it with regiments of marigolds... . Idiot! For most of my life that lovely plant had delighted summer visitors in July/August... .

I have 2 here on the compound. I haven't mowed them flat for 4-5 years now. Rather, I simply snip off any remaining flowers in early spring. I also clip the canes back to remove anything that is dead, or canes that are piddly. Every year they reward me with the same stalwart, gracious performance.

I'm now hatchin' a plan to provide some support so when the inevitable downpour arrives they have something to rely on until they dry out.

This is an old-fashioned plant that deserves more respect than many accord it. Annabelle makes me smile every time I look upon her. I also want to thank EGO for showing me that she will prosper in nearly full shade... I didn't know that and I have a site that would be immeasurably brightened by her seasonal smile! Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 2:38PM
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gardenlady48(z5 IL)

Or.......if you are in love with those 'huge' blooms that develop by cutting back in the spring, you can purchase a super large wire cage similiar to the tomatoe cage which I discovered for the first time this season at a local farm/home store. I'm so very happy I found these because now my huge blooms are still up with support. Some stems that grew outside the cages flopped over after a heavy down pour of rain and wind...but for the most part I still have awesome looking AH that I have received many complements on.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 5:29PM
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What's confusing me about pruning is that elsewhere on this forum the advice for PEEGEEs (paniculatas) seems to be that they become less floppy if you cut them down by about half each year. So is that advice wrong? Or are they different enough plants so that although cutting back strengthens Peegess it weakens Annabelles??

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 7:40PM
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You are mixing two completely different hydrangeas, H. paniculata (PG) and H. arborescens (Annabelle).
The only thing they have in common is that both blooms on NEW wood. Habit, sun requirements, size, form of bloom, pruning technics etc, etc are different.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 8:23PM
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OK, I just want to make sure I understand this: to strengthen my paniculata I should cut it back, but to strengthen my aborescens I should not. Right? Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 10:36PM
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By not cutting arborescens you may slightly change overall appearance.
Would that improve plant's overall appearance or not will be decided by you.

I'd strongly recommend to all who is complaining about arborescens floppines to go to the shrub now and look at the branch structure and check where the flowers are coming from. Make a note of 'old' and 'new' wood.
Then in a late fall or early spring when plant will be leafless and all wood will be the 'old', think where you'll make a cut or not make cut at all and how that will effect your plant.
Use your common sense, all clues are there.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 11:18PM
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sandykk(z6 MD)

On my quest to find a perfect support for Annabell, I came across a flat panel of reinforcement wire at Home Depot that I think will work beautifully. I should be able to trim it down to the needed height and cut the wire supporting legs at the bottom, which will give it addition support. Then all I have to do is fold it around in a circle (with DH's help) and wire the circle closed. This piece only cost $4.85 I believe, well worth it in my opinion.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 11:25AM
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My Annabelle flopped terribly after a torrential downpour. She never really 'bounced back'. So I went to Home Depot garden center and purchased five ornamental green wire supports- probably better described as trellis. They are very pretty, about three feet high, with scolloped tops for Anna to rest her lovely head(s), and lacey openings all around for smaller branches to peak through. I also purchased several tall, slender green stakes to support taller middle stems. The system worked beautifully, and Anna is holding her head up again...and looking great! And the supports are virtually invisible.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 7:57PM
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Would the kind of support that is used for peony's work?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 4:52AM
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wigardenerwannabe(Z5 WI)

terri55 I had the same question. I just purchased the somewhat larger wire cages for my peonies and was thinking they could possibly work for hydrangea...I suppose it depends on how large the hydrangea is.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 11:34AM
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I use large Y-Stakes and a zig-zag semi-circular support on my Annabelle. Its a pain but it helps. I'm going to try short wire fencing in a circle next year.

I usually cut my annabelle back late winter, but this year I didn't touch anything looking for the stronger stems. Maybe they were stronger, but there so many more blooms, and quite large too, that I still had serious flopping.

I am going to go with no pruning in the future -- I like the more blooms and I don't mind adding supports. I may cut it back once every x (?) years to keep the size in check.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 7:04AM
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silvergold(z5a WI)

Back to the question on paniculata. Pruning it to fewer stems will result in larger blooms and more floppy branches. Less pruning will result in stronger branches and typically smaller flowers. The two plants although very different ARE the same in this regard.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 11:27AM
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Thank you for this information. This year I am going to try NOT pruning and see if that helps. I also have a problem with the flower color. Only the first bloom of the season is white. All other blooms for the same season are green. Does anyone know anything about this?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 7:49AM
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When I clip a bloom, put in water? or let it dry to preserve the bloom?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 8:05PM
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