"The hydrangea plant is the most talked about plant on the radio. Today, let us talk about the white-flowering variety called 'Annabelle'--my favorite variety. If you live in the Northeast and along the southern coast, you are in love with the blue and pink varieties. If your climate is colder like my house in Maine, the colored varieties do not do as well but the white flowering types do "VERY WELL" with the cold.
'Annabelle' hydrangea flowers every year, no matter what the weather is and how cold it gets. This variety will grow all over new England from Connecticut to northern Maine, even as far north as Presque Isle Maine or St. Johnsbury Vermont. The white hydrangea is no wimp like the colored varieties--it will grow anywhere. When you pick up this hydrangea, be sure to ask for the double-flowering variety as the flower in the shape of a ball will be much larger and more showy.
Plant the hydrangea in a location with moist soils and good fertility. I always add compost to the hole when planting to help motivate root development. To help the rooting process, add the new Plant Thrive Fertilizer with Mycorrhizae when planting. Water two times a week for the first year and prepare yourself for the show of color. The hydrangea 'Annabelle' will grow in a mound 3 to 4 feet tall and just as wide. If you keep the plant well fed, the mound will stay tight and stems upright. If neglected the plant will open up and the weaker stems will fall over with the weight of the flower. The foliage is 6 to 8 inches long and the leaf is broad oval in shape.
The flower ball is 4 to 12 inches wide and symmetrical. Each of the individual flowers of this ball will have five petals and about 1 inch wide. When they first form on the tip of the branches in June, they will be green but color up quickly as the flower develops. The same thing happens to the flower as it finishes flowering: the flowers fade from white to pale green on the plant and then dry up. The blooming time is long--June to August--and you can cut them as a cut flower in a vase of water for the kitchen table. When the bloom is at peak for about four weeks, there is no match.
Your soils should be on the acid side and if you can mulch around the plant during the summer, the flowers will look much better and not brown up during drought seasons. In the fall remove the dead flowers to prevent heavy snow buildup on the flower from breaking the branches. The hydrangea 'Annabelle' should be pruned in the spring. If you prune the plant hard 12 to 18 inches from the ground, you will have fewer flowers but the flowers will be larger and the stems will be stronger, so the plant will bend over less. When pruning just a little to control the size of the plant you will have many more flowers but they will be much smaller. Unlike the colored hydrangea, no matter how you prune the plant will still flower.
The white flowering 'Annabelle' hydrangea will look best in groups, in a border planting, and when combined with other summer flowering shrubs. Such shrubs as spirea, rose of Sharon, potentilla and vitex. Hydrangeas will also make a nice background plant for an annual garden or perennial flowerbed.
Remember the 'Annabelle' hydrangea will also flower in the shade but the flowers will not be as white. Fertilize in the spring with Plant-Tone or Milorganite fertilizer. A must for your summer garden!"