What makes Incrediball hydrangea different?
- Strong stems don't flop over
- Extra-large flowers
Name: Hydrangea arborescens 'Abetwo' pp#20,571, cbr#4166
Hardiness: USDA zones 3-8
Height + width: 4-5'
Light: Full to part sun
Soil: Any well-drained soil will do. Though dry conditions are unlikely to harm an established plant, prolonged drought will severely limit floral life.
Pruning: Blooms on new wood; prune back by one-third in late winter/early spring for better habit and a slight improvement in stem strength.
Water: Average water needs. Does not tolerate wet conditions.
Fertilizer: Fertilize once in early spring with a rose fertilizer if desired.
Bloom time: Early summer
Bloom color: Flowers start creamy white, turn pure white, and then age to a beautiful, cheerful green. That color persists until frost.
Uses: Incrediball is the best choice among white smooth hydrangeas for a flowering hedge, specimen, landscape plant, or addition to a perennial border or cut flower garden. Its strong stems and abundant, showy blooms makes it extremely effective in the landscape with very minimal care and attention.
This super-hardy, super easy-to-grow hydrangea goes by lots of different names: smooth hydrangea, Annabelle hydrangea, wild seven bark, hills-of-snow hydrangea, wild hydrangea, native hydrangea, and probably a few more. Botanically, it is known as Hydrangea arborescens and it is native to much of the southeastern United States, from the south of Illinois to northern Florida and from New York state to Oklahoma. If you were to see a smooth hydrangea in the wild, though, you'd barely recognize it: naturally, its flowers are small and not very showy. It is thanks to avid gardeners and talented plant breeders that we have the big, colorful flowers that now characterize this practically fool-proof hydrangea.
Along with panicle hydrangeas, smooth hydrangeas are some of the most cold tolerant on the market, easily thriving and blooming even in chilly USDA zone 3. They are heat tolerant through about USDA zone 8, though can be grown in cool parts of zone 9, such as the Pacific Northwest.
With the recent work on the Invincibelle series done by Dr. Tom Ranney and his team at NCSU, the size range of smooth hydrangeas has gone from pretty much strictly 5'+ to a huge selection in the 2-3' range, and some as small as just 1-1.5' tall and wide. With a little research, you'll find the perfect variety for any space!
We recommend at least four hours of sun each day, or filtered light throughout the day. This makes a huge difference in the stem strength, as plants that are in too much shade will stretch toward the light, leading to thin, spindly growth that can't support the flower heads. For the pink varieties, sun also helps to bring out the purest, truest colors. Finally, in too much shade, you may find that mophead varieties don't fully develop and take on some characteristics of lacecap flowers. In hot climates, sun should only be in the morning, and during the hottest part of the day, they should be in shade.
Easy-going smooth hydrangeas aren't fussy about soil, but they do require it to be well-drained. They won't do well in soils that are too wet nor soils that are too dry. Soil pH is not an issue, as they can grow well in acidic to slightly alkaline conditions, and the color of the pink varieties will not change based on soil chemistry as they can for bigleaf and mountain types.
Smooth hydrangeas are naturally fast-growing, and need little to no supplemental fertilizer to do their best. One application of a granular (not liquid) rose fertilizer in early spring should be sufficient in most areas.
For many years, white was the only option for smooth hydrangeas, but that changed dramatically in 2010 when Proven Winners introduced Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea. It was the first-ever pink flowering smooth hydrangea. Since then, new and improved color options have been hitting the market, and now pure pinks, ruby reds, mauvey purples, and even greens are available. The color on these varieties is not impacted by the soil chemistry.
Smooth hydrangeas are one of the few types that bloom on new wood. This is one of the reasons why they are such a reliable performer even in cold climates! It's also what makes pruning them each spring the ideal way to maintain the plants, as it removes any thin buds at the tips of the stems and ensures the growth for the year comes from thicker buds that were created earlier the previous season.
Some people cut smooth hydrangeas like 'Annabelle' all the way to the ground. However, we recommend cutting the entire plant back by about one-third its total height in early spring. You can also remove any thin side branches at this time, as well as any wood that's not showing signs of life. If you prefer, you can do this in late autumn/early winter, you'll just want to wait until the plant is completely dormant before pruning. Our preference is generally to prune in spring, because this leaves the dried flower heads in place all winter, which are much nicer to look at than a bunch of cut-off branches. The plant will not be harmed with late autumn pruning if that's what you prefer.
Smooth hydrangea problems
Largely problem-free, any issues you do see on your smooth hydrangeas are most likely cultural - due to some conditions the plant is experiencing that aren't ideal for growth. That said, there are a couple of issues that may arise that you should know about.
The leaf spots that impact other hydrangeas are usually fungal in nature. However, the most common leaf spot for smooth hydrangeas is actually bacterial. It can be avoided in the same way as fungal leaf spots: avoid overhead watering, provide good air circulation, keep the plant free of stress, and remove any affected foliage when it falls in autumn.
There's only one insect that you are likely to find causing damage on a smooth hydrangea, and that's the hydrangea leaf tier. That's "tie-r," as in, "one who ties," because this little caterpillar makes itself a snug little home in the leaf shoots so that it can feed safely on the developing foliage. These native insects rarely cause any issues for the plant, but once the caterpillar develops into a moth, you may see the foliage is slightly disfigured. If you see the leaves clasped tightly together at the ends of the branches, you can peel them open and smash the green larvae.
Deer cause major issues for smooth hydrangeas: they especially love to eat the flower buds and may eat them before they are even noticeable to the human eye. They also eat the foliage, and smooth hydrangeas tend to be the type that are most severely damaged by deer. If you have deer in your yard, plants should be protected with netting or a spray, and this protection will need to be repeated - maturity does not seem to deter them.
NO RISK 60 DAY GUARANTEE
We guarantee that you will be satisfied with your purchase and that your plants will arrive healthy, free of pests and diseases, and true to name. If for any reason you are dissatisfied, notify us within 60 days of receipt of your order and we will refund you.
FALL GUARANTEE – SHIPPING FROM SEPTEMBER 1 – END OF FALL SEASON
Notify us within 7 days if you have a concern about orders shipped in autumn so we can make a note of it. Warranty on such plants is extended to May 31 of the following year. Our fall guarantee does not cover plants that are not hardy (i.e., able to survive winter) in your area, so please verify your USDA hardiness zone (click ‘Growing Zone’ in the site navigation and enter your zip code) before purchasing. If you have questions about whether a plant can survive winter in your area, please call us before purchasing. See Product Care section below for additional information.
OUR LARGER ROOT SYSTEMS
We ship jumbo size plants with hefty root systems that outperform smaller plants obtained from other mail order nurseries.
We take great pride in our packaging. Please contact us immediately for any damaged boxes or shortages. (Please note: multiple boxes shipped by Fed Ex might not always arrive the same day)
Any plant shipped dormant in the spring is guaranteed to break dormancy even if it takes more than one month. Call us directly if you have any concerns.
Photos of the plant(s) will be required so that we may provide the best assistance possible
A plant refund is based on the plant cost less discounts and shipping charges. Allow up to 2 weeks for processing. We reserve the right to request a return of an item.
After 60 days, we cannot be responsible for product that is in your care. This includes overwintering, animals, insects, diseases, poor planting, plants beyond their hardiness zone, drought, flooding, etc. Our expert staff is here to assist you with any problem you may be experiencing. Our goal is that you are successful with our product.
Bought 4 gallon size plants and planted May 2021. Plants were packaged great. Had blooms that summer and this year...holy moly! They are 5ft tall and covered in blooms! They have been the light of my spring being that my endless summers blooms succumbed to lots of late spring frost. Looking to increase my Incrediball collection!
I ordered 4 hydrangeas. One of them already died. Not happy. The others I think will be OK. We shall see.
Hi Suzanne, We're so sorry to hear about your Hydrangea! Please send us a photo to email@example.com, making sure to put your order number and name in the subject line so that we may provide the best assistance possible. Rest assured, we do have a 60 day guarantee on all of our plants. If you received your plants within that timeframe, we will be happy to apply your warranty. Happy Gardening!
Biggest disappointment ever… I ordered 7 1 gallon hydrangeas. They arrived a week after they were meant to arrive at my house. Dead, wilted, and whatever small hope was left was shaken up quite severely by the Fed ex workers. In the majority of the pots it looks like i was just shipped dirt as there were no plant to be seen. The others were so badly damaged that when I pulled the pots out of the box, the small amount of hydrangeas that were sent wilted, and are sitting in a pile (pictured below). I was really excited about using this company but am very disappointed in the lack of customer service. I tried several times Contacting great garden throughout the experience and only received an auto reply, but no one from the company ever responded to my email. I asked for a refund today, and am holding out hope they will respond to my email and provide me the refund I am requesting.
Hi Zac, We apologize that you received plants that were not up to our standards! As we try our best to provide exceptional service, some factors like shipping and handling are outside of our control. Our customer service team is working diligently to work through the various needs of our customers. We realize that our response times are taking longer than we'd like and we are sorry for that as well. We are currently all 'hands on deck' to respond to customer communications. If you have submitted photos and your order number to firstname.lastname@example.org we will get back to you as soon as possible. At the most within 2-3 days. Again, we apologize as the plants you received are not up to our standards. Happy Gardening!
When my incredible hydrangeas were shipped I was worried, It was so late in the year just the shock of them being transported so far.. I am so happy to say I did everything that I was supposed to do prep wise and when they came in let them sad watered them give them time to bounce back and they are beautiful, even with no blooms yet because they’re so little they are beautiful healthy green leaves I am so excited and cannot wait till spring to see them start to bloom thank you very much. It was amazing how they were boxed and sent to me they were protected as if the person sending them was the one receiving them thank you very much I Love my plants .
Still alive , no bigger, But not dead like another hydrangea purchased or struggling like 2 others I received. Overall , these plants are tiny plants. This is only one I think may make it but I would never have purchased hydrangeas this small. I like plant more established or stronger lookinh