Annabelle or 'white out' hedge

joannembOctober 20, 2009

I'd like to create a white hydrangea hedge (would mean about 10 plants) along the side of my house. It gets morning sun, afternoon shade. I can't decide between Annabelle and the new "forever and ever--white out" variety. Any thoughts, or pros/cons between the two? I like how annabelle's blooms change to a lime green.... does "white out" do the same?

My other worry is that the stems will look unsightly during the winter. Can both of these varieties be cut down to the ground? Or will this effect their blooms in the spring. I know I can't cut my big leaf hydrangea down, but heard Annabelle and f&e are different.... true?

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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I'm not familiar with the "White Out" - but Annabelle would make an oustanding hedge. I've seen some stunning stop-the-car-and-gawk Annabelle hedges.

I find Annabelle quite attractive in the winter. I leave the dried flower heads on the bushes, I find them pretty against a winter backdrop.

You can cut Annabelle to the ground when completely dormant in late fall, or leave until spring. Growth is very rapid in the spring and breaks dormancy relatively early (compared to other types of hydrangeas), so no worries about the hedge filling in very quickly.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 8:41PM
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ostrich(3a AB)

joannemb, for zone 5, I would agree with mxk3 that Annabelle is a better option, for it is absolutely reliable and will bloom its head off year after year regardless of the winter severity! Yes, you can cut Annabelle to the ground but it won't affect it a bit, but you cannot do that for White Out without affecting its blooms in the following year.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 9:12PM
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hydrangeasnohio(6a)

Hello, My opinion is the White Out is way to small for a hedge line. My #1 pick would be the new Incrediball that was created from the Annabelle. The two new improvements is the flower size now is 12 inches instead 6-8 inches and the second is the dropping problem of an Annabelle. They are known to have dropping stems after they flower but Proven Winners promises the Incrediball will with stand any weather conditions. My second choice would be the Blushing Bride from the Endless Summer Series. I have many reblooming hydrangeas. We had a very bad winner this past year and all of them died back to the ground except for my two Blushing Brides. Although almost all of my rebloomers did bloom on new wood this year as promised. But the Blushing Bride flowers do mature to a red colored flower. They were both in two different locations in my yard (non protected) and they were my first hydrangeas to bloom this year. I was very impressed by them!!!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 9:34PM
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EGO45(6bCT)

If it would be me (in z6b), I would of crossed F&E completely out of equation and would be hard pressed to choose between Annabelle and Blushing Bride.
In z5 I would probably chose the A. as a more reliable bloomer.
As a winter appearance concerns, none of them will be a site to behold in a winter, though A., at least in a first half of the winter, is more attractive than B.
And the last thing. Considering the stoloniferous nature of A. you'll have a truly uniform hedge out of it in a short order while making uniformed hedge out of macrophillas is not that easy and may take quite some time or never due to inevitable diebacks.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 11:11PM
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joannemb

Wow---thank you! I was leaning toward F&E but will definitely go with Annabelle for all of the reasons you all stated. Will also look into the incrediball as well. Thank you for the wealth of info!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 7:49AM
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luis_pr

I agree with George. Winter dieback may give the hedge an incomplete look until the plants can grow the new stems in Spring big enough. "A" as he calls it might look better than "B".

Have you considered a Limelight Hedge? "L" is a bigger plant than "A" though.

Here is a link that might be useful: Limelight Hydrangea

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 7:59AM
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joannemb

I actually got the idea of using hydrangeas as a hedge after seeing a limelight one---very beautiful. Unfortunately, bigger than I'd like for the spot.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 11:57AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I would second the Incrediball option...based on the fact they're "supposed" to have stronger stems.

Although Annabelle is a very reliable performer I absolutely hate it.

It FLOPS, it FLOPS...maybe some people like that?

I would highly recommend against using that plant as a hedge. My neighbor has 3 or 4 under his bay window and when it rains they look terrible. I just want to walk over there and cut them down.

There are so many better choices over this old school plant...thankfully hybridizers are taking its strong attributes (reliable blooms) and eliminating its weaknesses(weak stems).

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 4:24PM
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ostrich(3a AB)

whaas, I respectfully disagree with you.

I have 2 Annabelles, and they don't flop too badly at all. In fact, if you feel that they flop too much, there are some very easy things that one can do to hold them up. Since there have been many discussions about the options already, I will not repeat them here. Also, when you have a dense hedge, they kind of hold one another up too.

Furthermore, Annabelle has been absolutely reliable. While it was tempting to suggest Incrediball (I almost did myself), we still do not know the long-term performance of this new shrub. In fact, I am not sure if anyone on this board really has any mature Incrediball to talk about their real life experience on it? All we have so far is promotional material that may not reflect the full picture. Oh, and we probably should expect to pay pretty steep prices for this new introduction in 2010, while Annabelle is relatively inexpensive and readily available.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 10:57PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I 100% agree with the reliability of the Annabelle and the limited proven reliability of new cultivars. I don't think anyone can discount that.

Buts its no secret that Annabelle flops terribly in the wind and rain.

I guess I should rephrase and mention if you don't mind flopping or taking the steps to limit the flopping than Annabelle still has its merit.

Personally, I love taking the risk of trying new plants.
With all the competition of nurseries in my area I rarely see premiums for new plants. But for new plants with limited distribution (ie mail order companies), they can be RIDICLOUSLY priced.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 10:32AM
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EGO45(6bCT)

I would like to emphasise one ability of Annabelle that Ostrich just mentioned briefly, "in a dense hedge, they kind of hold one another up too."
This is absolutely correct statement and if space will allow to plant HEDGE as a two rows in a zig-zag pattern, then you'll have a fantastic looking hedge covered by flowers from the ground to the top. In this case natural flopiness of Annabelle will work for you, not against you.
As far as Incredi/Invinci... concerns, let them first prove that they could live up to the hype and only after that pass the judgement

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 12:39PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I agree with Ostrich regarding reliability issues with both Annabelle and new introductions - particularly because I am one of the suckers who paid top $$$ when Endless Summer was first released, and I've been kicking myself ever since. ES does not live up to the hype in my yard, no way no how. But Annabelle far exceeds any expectations I had for them when I originally purchased - she's been around for a long, long, LONG time for a *reason*. The only reason I don't rip out the ES and replace with Annabelle is because I have quite a few of them and I paid a lot for them and I can't bear to just waste all that money (ES is nice foliage plant, though).

So, until the new cultivars are proven over the years, I wouldn't recommend running out and paying top dollar (and we all know darn well they're going to be at a high price point next season) for enough plants for a hedge - with the possibility of major disappointment. A few plants to try, sure - but a hedge is a pretty big investment.

Regarding the flopping, my Annabelle flop very minimally, if at all. It's all in the pruning (and possibly planting pattern, as mentioned above).

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 1:23PM
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joannemb

Hmmm. Sooner plant farms has a sale on their shrubs.... so the incrediballs are buy one get one free (to ship in the spring.) Maybe worth it to give them a try? I am a newbie gardener and am not sure how I would fare with Annabelles: staking, supporting, planting them in such a way that they would support eachother.

Another thing to consider is that this is the north side of my house. The house is white so it reflects sun, but it doesn't get much DIRECT sunlight. I've read that annabelles don't fare as well in reality as they are stated to in full sun. Did a search on the forum here and many said they have theirs in shade and they do better. I'm assuming that the incrediballs would take on this same characteristic?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 2:24PM
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hydrangeasnohio(6a)

I assume also that the Incrediball will take on the same characteristics. My first Annabelle I bought the tag said Full Sun to Part. I had to find out the hard way the did not like full sun! The Annabelle or Incrediball should do great in that location and can not go wrong with either. But I would be very careful ordering from a mail order company. I have heard bad stories. It's always best to go to a nursery in my opinion. If you could not hold out for the Icrediballs next spring I would just go for the Annabelles now. You will have to post pictures some day!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 4:51PM
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joannemb

hydrangeasnohio-- thank you. I think I should probably just wait it out until Spring (tempting as that buy one get one offer is...) And I think I may give this incrediball variety a go. Thanks for all of the input it was soooo helpful!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 5:00PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

The soonerfarm deal is very good (even with shipping). I did talk to a buddy of mine (who owns a nursery) and he said the #2 cnt. will be priced @ $25.00. Not to say all nurseries will be at that price.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 5:09PM
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ostrich(3a AB)

joannemb, I would not worry too much about the reflection from your white exterior. After all, the light in northern exposure has quite a different quality to the light from a western or southern exposure. Northern exposure would be great for Annabelle.

BTW, the only thing that I would be worried about is how a white hedge would look against a white house?

P.S. George, what a great idea it is to do a zig zag pattern! I never thought of that before... thanks for the tip! And where have you been lately!? What is Ditas up to!?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 7:40PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I don't mean to be naive, but when you say "P.S. George, what a great idea it is to do a zig zag pattern! I never thought of that before... thanks for the tip!" Are you being sarcastic or being serious?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 10:45PM
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ostrich(3a AB)

whaas, why, I really meant it! I just never thought of that before. George has been a wealth of knowledge in gardening and I truly respect and appreciate his opinions, and have done for years of being on Gardenweb.

From your question, I imagine that you do not agree that the zigzag pattern is a good idea?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 1:15AM
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joannemb

Ostrich,
Thanks--now I just have to watch this 'zig-zag' debate play out before I decide if I should try that or not! lol
I saw a white annabelle hedge along the side of a white house, and it looked so pretty. I love 'all white' color schemes so I am playing around with that (most of my house is brick, so in front there is plenty of contrast.) The side of my house is all white, but I'm thinking that with all of the foliage it won't really be 'white on white.' I don't expect to get the abundance of blooms that I see in the pictures---making annabelle appear like an all white puff :) Newbie that I am I'll be happy with a few blooms on each bush! lol

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 8:01AM
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ostrich(3a AB)

joannemb, you are right that white on white can look good, with the foliage and all. What you can also do is to underplant in front of the Annabelle some short perennials with colorful blooms and/or foliage. Something like hardy geraniums, or even heucheras and/or hostas with colorful foliage, would look really good there!

I think that the zig zag pattern would look great, but you do need more depth in the bed to make that work there. You know, most of the times, this is all just personal opinion, we don't all have to agree! :-)

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 10:34AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

No worries, I interpretted your comment to George as being sarcastic. But it clearly wasn't.

I despise anyone who uses "other than" a zig zag pattern for a hedge.

When I see things planted in a straight line I want to poke my eyes out!! Sometimes it can work with short stature evergreen (like a boxwood).

I don't think there is going to be a debate with the zig zag pattern...use the zig zag pattern, lol.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 11:12AM
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madeyna(7/8)

I have never seen a hedge done in a zigzag pattern but with the exception of one Annabelle hedge all the hedges I have ever seen have been evergreens or roses. The Annabelle hedge I saw turned me off Annabelles because in our rainy northwest most of that hedge was on the ground. The next time I drove down that road was a few months later and it was missing so I,m guessing the owner wasn,t happy with it either. It the idea with a weak hedge that the plants better support each other if they are planted in a zipzag pattern?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 10:28PM
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joannemb

Hmmm, all this drooping annabelle talk makes me wonder why was Forever and Ever 'white out' discounted early on in the thread? I know it's smaller, but that's ok---I don't necessarily need a tall hedge (just something to line the side of the house.) Of course incrediball supposedly solves the drooping annabelle issue, but because it's so new I can't seem to find enough real-life experiences/reviews to convince me that buying them in large quantities (would need 7-8) wouldn't be a risky move.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 9:15AM
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gardengal48

Unless you are planting a very formal hedge (often one that is sheared to shape it), plants just look more natural when planted in a staggered or zig-zag pattern, rather than a regimented, straight line like soldiers :-) And IMO, there is nothing 'formal' about hydrangeas!

As to the floppiness of 'Annabelle', there is evidence to support the theory that a partial cutting back each season (rather than NO cutting or cutting back to the ground) will result in stronger wood and more upright growth. But you do run the risk that the very large flowerheads will just be too weighty for the stems, and even more so if filled with rain water. Closer spacing and the zig-zag planting pattern will help the plants support each other.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 11:25AM
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madeyna(7/8)

My bb is a flopper I cann,t see it working as a hedge unless it was tied up, or you live in a area that doesn,t have alot of rain. We have had a really heavy rains this week and all but two stems of my three foot tall plant is on the ground. I am going to tie it up this winter and hope that it will harden the stems into a more upright habit. My F&E held up well no flopping at all and the leaves are bigger and darker green than BB. I like the fall flower color change on the BB better than the F&E. I wouldn,t cut either down every year though because it would really decrease the number of that years flowers. I can,t wait to get my hands on a Incrediball. If it lives up to the hype and has a good dark leaf color it would be the best of all them for a hedge. If you use Annabell or BB you could use decorative fencing in black to hold it up. Mayby the plants would grow threw it and make it less noticable.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 12:01PM
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ostrich(3a AB)

joannemb, if you go back to the earlier posts in this thread, you will see why F&E was discounted. It just is not as reliable a bloomer as Annabelle in our zone (5b). However, the decision is yours and if you prefer an erect shrub hedge with lots of nice foliage but not so reliable blooms, then you should go with F&E. If you prefer a very reliable and carefree bloomer that does not require any winter protection, but not as erect as F&E, then go with Annabelle.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 3:26PM
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joannemb

Ok-- I do not want a hydrangea that needs winter protection. In your experience forever and ever's don't fare well in our zone? I just always here people here in Cleveland talk up the endless summers and how well they bloom... I thought forever and ever was pretty much the same thing?

Here is a picture of a hydrangea hedge by my house that is still blooming---this thing never stopped. I like the uniformity of it and the smaller nature (but I would like white.) I just assumed these were endless summers... but what do you think?

One more concern with annabelle is will it keep this neat shape? Not talking about the droopy blooms.... but the foliage. My neighbor has 2 annabelles next to one another, and they are so unsymmetrical---rogue shoots sprouting way out on one side etc. I am so scared to prune hydrangeas (when, how, how much etc.) that I'd rather have a variety I could just let alone. Why do you think my neighbor's annabelle is so out of shape?

The front of my yard is rather formal, so I do want a uniform neat hedge (within reason... I know hydrangeas aren't really 'formal') I like the look of the hedge I pictured... would I be able to achieve that same look with Annabelle?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2009 at 7:00PM
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joannemb

I meant "I hear people here in Cleveland" :)

    Bookmark   October 26, 2009 at 7:18PM
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madeyna(7/8)

I would ask the neighbor what that hedge is. It would also be a good idea to ask the local nurserys if FE does well in your area. What is the mop head you already have in you yard?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2009 at 4:24PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Agree with the post above. Ask what they are.

Also, when people say FE is not reliable that is not necessarily true. They aren't "consistently" reliable throughout various areas.

I've seen some in my area (Milwaukee) and they do fine.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2009 at 5:34PM
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joannemb

I found out that the hydrangeas pictured above are Endless Summer. I do like the size of them....the tidiness of the hedge. Again, I have a somewhat formal look to the front of my house so I'm thinking a smaller variety lining the side might fit in better. I think I may have to give the 'white out' a go (even though I know ostrich hasn't had luck with f&e in my zone...) If endless summer made a white I'd do it in a heartbeat. We shall see---let you know in the summer how things turn out :)

    Bookmark   November 14, 2009 at 9:13PM
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madeyna(7/8)

Endless summer does do a white its Blushing Bride. The leaves on the Forever and Ever Whiteout are darker and the tag says matures 28 tall by 25 wide with 8 inch blooms. It was a new release this year. BB doesnt seem to take as much sun as the FF and the BB tag says it gets 3 tall and 6 wide. Hardie to zone 5 partial shade. My BB are floppers and my FF are not but the FF are smaller so maybe thier just not big enough to flop. So far my FF are slow growers so if you can buy bigger ones . I think FF are the more striking of the two because of the darker leaves and larger flowers. My FF have been in bloom since may with a small brake when I dead headed so I didn,t get to see any color change on the flowers yet they are still white and the leaves are still dark green. Next year I won,t dead head all of them so I can watch for changes . BB goes threw some reallys stiking color changes.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 4:56PM
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joannemb

Went back to read this thread since warmer weather is approaching! Just wanted to say thank you for all of the information--- You all helped make my decision easier (since I'm planing quite a few, I was a bit nervous to just 'go for it') I think I'm going to go with the forever and ever because of the bigger blooms and less floppiness of the plant altogether. I think it will look nice with the formality that I have in front with the boxwood hedge and all. Will post pictures this Summer... thanks again to all.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 7:01PM
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