I’ve had a request to do another update on my annabelle hydrangea propagation posts. You can find the original post here and the updated post here.

It’s super easy to start new hydrangeas from cuttings, but the hardest part is taking care of those cuttings once they’ve rooted.

What I’ve Learned About Propagating Annabelle Hydrangeas With Hardwood Cuttings

The image above shows the same 4 hardwood cuttings from the original post in Feb. 2017.

Why do they look so different?

The difference in these four Annabelle hydrangea cuttings is what happened to them after I potted them up in late August.

I was afraid to leave them in my propagation box and thought that they would be safer in a covered chicken coop that I had. I was afraid that the babies would freeze and that that they would be protected from the cold in the coop. I think the Annabelle hydrangeas are a zone 3 and above. I’m in a zone 5 so I shouldn’t have been worried.

The last 3 hydrangeas pictured above were in that coop. The first hydrangea in the picture was placed in the ground near my house. Here you can see it in the ground (still in the pot).

I had several similar ones planted in the ground and all of them look fantastic. Here is the same one after I took it out of the ground (June 14) and beside it is a photo I just ran outside to take of it now.

I put it in a larger pot on my back patio next to my swing. It’s grown tremendously in 1 month.

The lasts 3 hydrangeas in the first photo above.

All three of those hydrangeas were in the chicken cook. Many of them actually died (like the last one on the right). Some did okay, like the first one and the 2nd to last hydrangea barely made it.

In my experience I’ve found that the most important thing for these hydrangeas is water. The 2nd hydrangea and others like it were near the fencing of the chicken cook and received the most amount of rain and snow. The 3rd hydrangea was in a little further and received much less water and snow and the last hydrangea was placed in an area that didn’t get any rain or snow. Most of those didn’t make it.

What a huge difference water and precipitation makes!

I had every intention of going out there during the winter and watering everything at least once or twice a month, but I never got around to doing so. So I lost most of my cuttings that I started back in February of 2017.

Those that were near the open fence and those planted out in the garden in the fall did extremely well. Here’s a photo (also taken in June) that shows the north side of my house and the cuttings I planted there in the fall.

They are all huge now with lots of blooms.

A New Batch of Annabelle Hydrangea Cuttings.

I knew that most of my hardwood cuttings of Annabelle Hydrangea didn’t make it through the winter and figured I’d go ahead and take more cuttings. So on April 21, as I was cleaning up the gardens and cutting down last years blooms, I decided to save them for propagation instead of throwing them into the compost pile. The blooms are bigger when you cut about 1/3 of the growth of these hydrangeas in the spring.

Here’s half of my propagation box. The left side is all new Annabelle Hydrangea cuttings and the right side are some other hydrangeas that I started late last summer and just left them in the box over winter.

Here’s a cutting that I pulled out on June 14th to see if if had any roots. The cutting was less than two months old and already had roots.

I potted this one up but left the rest as I’d like the roots to be bigger. I plan on sticking them into my garden or potting them up in the fall.

Some of the hydrangea cuttings started to grow blooms, but it’s important for you to cut those off so that the plants energy is going into root formation instead of creating blooms.

Here is an Annabelle Hydrangea hedge in my garden. Most of these I started from cuttings about 3 years ago. There were a few gaps so I did buy 4 little baby ones to fill in the gaps.

Tips For Propagating Annabelle Hydrangeas

The best tips for getting free plants of all kinds, including Annabelle Hydrangeas are:

  1. Use a rooting hormone in either liquid form or powder form. I use both and they seem to work equally well. The liquid variety is more expensive, but it is concentrated and will last you a very, very long time.
  2. Make sure you keep your cuttings moist at all times. They are very fragile and can die if not kept moist.
  3. When overwintering cuttings, make certain that they still get some water. When they are dormant that don’t need constant moisture, but they do need some to get through the winter.
  4. When the cuttings have rooted and you’re ready to plant them out, do make sure again to water them pretty frequently until they establish.

Have you tried propagating hydrangeas? What was your experience? Do share in the comments section.

If you have any other questions about propagating hydrangeas that I haven’t answered here, leave it in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer it.

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Propagating Hydrangeas

Rooting Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are fairly easy to root. Some people have rooted them in water, but many others (such as myself) have never been able to make this work.

Susan Park Cole sent us the picture to the right demonstrating that it is possible to root hydrangeas in water. Occasionally roots form when one leaves an arrangement in water for a long time. In my experience, though, this method fails more often than it succeeds.

Below are two fail-proof methods for rooting hydrangeas.

Rooting Hydrangea Cuttings in 5 Easy Steps

Take a cutting from a branch of the hydrangea shrub about 5-6″ long. Most experts say the cutting will work best if taken from a branch that did not flower this year.

Remove the lower leaves of the bottom two leaf nodes.(see pictures #3 and #4)

Cut largest leaves down to about half their size

Dip cuttings in rooting hormone (this is entirely optional) and insert into damp vermiculite, coarse sand or other sterile medium.

Water pot well and allow to drain. Make sure soil is moist but not soggy. Cover cuttings and pot with plastic. Try to keep plastic from touching leaves by adding stakes (#5) or

See some short-cut methods below sent to me by visitors to this site.
O.K., I admit I stuck three steps in number 5, but this really is simple.

TIPS: Place cuttings in bright light. NEVER PLACE NEW CUTTINGS IN THE SUN. They will cook in the plastic. And even if they are not in plastic, they should be placed in a bright shady area.

Do not water again until top of soil begins to feel slightly dry. Overwatering will cause cuttings to rot.

Expect cuttings to begin to form roots in 2-3 weeks depending on temperature (faster in warm weather) and humidity. Some cuttings root in as little as one week. If a tug on the cutting resists the pull, it is rooting.

Note on overwintering Cuttings

Getting cuttings through the first winter without a greenhouse is the hardest part of starting new hydrangeas from cuttings. Start new cuttings early in the summer to give them the best chance for surviving the winter.

While some people manage to take cuttings through the winter indoors, in general, this does not work well. Hydrangeas do best if grown outdoors. Here are two suggestions for getting cuttings through the winter:

(1) sink pots of cuttings into the ground and cover well with lightweight mulch.

(2) put smaller pots of cuttings next to a foundation and cover them with large clay pots for the winter.

Rooting Hydrangeas in a Cup

Carl Brady, an Ohio visitor to this site, sent pictures of the easy way he roots hydrangea cuttings. He says, “I have good luck starting cuttings using regular Styrofoam cups for the medium and a larger clear plastic cup for the top. It works just like a small green house.” (As most of you know, the word “medium” refers to the vermiculite, course sand, or other substance the cuttings are stuck into).

When cuttings are well rooted, Carl transplants them into a larger container (right). In this instance, the process was obviously very successful.

* * *

Another visitor to this site reports using a three liter coke bottle: “Cut the top part (or funnel plus a couple of inches) off a two or three liter bottle of cola. You can then place the bottle (funnel part) over the pot with the wider opening down. It works like a little greenhouse.”

* * *

Here is another suggestion from Eileen Ridge of Virginia. She says that when she read the instructions above for rooting hydrangeas she was overwhelmed with the idea of using stakes and plastic tents. She almost gave up until she saw the idea of rooting cuttings in cups submitted by Carl Brady above. Then she came up with a variation on the cup idea, and, for the first time she was able to root cuttings of her purple hydrangeas.

Eileen says “I love this concept because after setting up the cutting, watering it well, and letting the excess drain, the cap of the inverted container acts like a tray and allows for a little more drainage if necessary, and the container just pops down on the lid (I don’t screw it back together, I just leave it to rest there).”

Eileen has friends and neighbors lining up for the new purple hydrangeas. The world will be a better place.

Ground Layering Hydrangeas

This is a very easy method. I love it. However, one is limited to rooting only a few new plants at a time unless he/she has many hydrangeas.

To ground layer, select a branch close to the ground (or several).

Remove the leaves for about 5-6 inches at the spot where the branch touches the ground and scrape a little of the bark off the under-side of the branch in this area. Make sure at least one leaf node will be under the ground. The leaf node is where a leaf comes out of the branch and most roots will form.

Do not cut the branch off the mother plant. Dig a little trench about 2 inches deep and lower the branch into it and cover generously with soil (potting soil would be nice but is entirely optional).

. Put a brick or stone on the buried area so that it will stay under the soil. This also helps to hold the moisture around the branch. Keep it watered occasionally. When roots form, the branch can be removed from the mother plant, potted up and treated like a mature cutting.

Tip from Linde S. of North Carolina: Linda writes that when she ground layered a new hydrangea plant, the new branch would grow roots just fine. But after it was separated from the mother plant and potted up, it it often went into shock and would require a lot of TLC before it would start growing well again.

Then she discovered that if she added one extra step, the new little plant would recover and thrive much faster. Here is what she suggests: When the new branch, which is attached to the mother plant, is well-rooted, cut it off of the mother plant but leave it in the ground without disturbing it for a few more weeks, so it can become accustomed to growing on its own. Then transplant it. It will stay much healthier and be better able to thrive without the mother plant. I have tried this, and it really does work.

Pot Layering Hydrangeas

Tip from Anne of Corinth, MS: Anne writes that she, too, has a method that seems to decrease the shock of cutting the new hydrangea plant from the mother plant. Instead of burying the stem in the ground, as described above, she leaves the stem on the top of the ground and roots it in a pot. She describes it this way: “I cut the mature leaves off a long stem with bud nodes, nick the area at the node I want to root, and dust with rooting hormone. Then I slice a 5″-7″ pot about half way down opposite sides and lay the stem horizonal into the pot -into the slits on the side and cover with soil. Then months later (or even the next spring) I cut the mother lode loose and tear off the pot and put the new plant into the ground.”

Anne’s pictures of her Oakleaf hydrangea below demonstrate:

(1) The split pot with the stem, covered with soil, going in one side and out the other

(2) The pot with sides back in place

(3) The finished procedure.

To keep the soil in the pots moist, I would use potting soil, then water the soil in the pot well, and cover the pot with plastic. However, don’t use plastic if the pot will be in the sun. The cutting might cook it.

‘Annabelle’ hydrangea: How to grow

Bartram (eventually appointed botanist to George III) introduced more than 100 American species into Europe. In return Collinson, who was also a Quaker, sent European plants to Bartram, including tulips, carnations and auriculas.

The spectacular ‘Annabelle’ wasn’t bred, however. It was discovered growing wild near Anna in Ohio, hence the name. Launched in the mid-1970s by the Gulf Stream Nursery, it is now widely available.

The flat-headed mass of white flowers appears from July, but the green veining on the four “petals” (which are, in fact, long-lasting bracts) prevents ‘Annabelle’ from looking brash in summer sun.

Although there are no large sterile flowers to give that fragile lacecap look, ‘Annabelle’ has poise and balance, and makes a strong presence for more than six months.

The other widely grown form of H. arborescens is ‘Grandiflora’, which can also be found growing wild in Ohio. The oversized flower heads are harder to place in a border and the stems can bend under the weight, but this lax habit means that it can be made to tumble over a low wall, or down steps.

There is also a new American double-flowered form called ‘Hayes Starburst’, which is available from Madrona Nursery (see suppliers). The flowers are longer lasting, although not quite as white.

Another good, hardy, cool-toned hydrangea is Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, which bears conical heads of lime-green flowers in late summer.

How to grow

Varieties of H. arborescens are durable and tolerate cold conditions and summer drought, unlike most blue and pink hydrangeas bred from Asian species such as H. macrophylla and H. serrata. So if you’ve failed with hydrangeas in the past, this is one you should try.

If you want to enjoy winter seed heads, place ‘Annabelle’ in an open position where they can catch the frost and glimmer in the light.

Prune very lightly in spring. Just tip the stems back to the highest shooting bud. There is no need to cut down hard.

Flower size will vary according to growing conditions. In well-drained, poorer soil the heads will only measure five to seven inches across. But on moisture-retentive, fertile soil they are much larger. I never feed my plants because I prefer smaller flowers. Also, if fed, the supporting stems tend to be softer and less woody so they struggle to support the larger flowers.

Good companions

Mop-headed flowers such as hydrangeas and elders mix well with herbaceous plants. But all flat-topped flowers need spires to avoid the hummocky look. Rich blue aconitums go well, and the earlier flowering, prolific ‘Spark’s Variety’ and the later ‘Bressingham Spire’ also make good partners.

The cool white flowers are an excellent foil for dark foliage and flowers. Set ‘Annabelle’ close to the rounded, wine-red leaves of Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’, accompanied by the powder blue Clematis ‘Perle d’Azur’ for summer dazzle.

Or use spiky dark dahlias, such as the brown-red ‘Rip City’, the rounder darker red ‘Arabian Night’, or the deeply purple ‘Hillcrest Royal’. Colourful asters also look more vibrant against white ‘Annabelle’.

‘Annabelle’ fades elegantly to shades of brown and green, and will blend well with late-season grasses, whether shorter forms of Miscanthus sinensis (such as ‘Yakushima Dwarf’ or ‘Kleine Fontane’) or fluffy pennisetums.

‘Annabelle’ also comes into leaf late, so an underplanting of early spring bulbs (miniature daffodils or small blue bulbs) will have room to shine before this hydrangea bursts into life and eclipses them.

Where to buy

Burncoose Nurseries, Gwennap, Redruth, Cornwall (01209 860316; www.burncoose.co.uk).

Madrona Nursery, Pluckley Road, Bethersden, Kent (01233 820 100; www.madrona.co.uk).

Buy Hydrangea arborescens from the Telegraph Gardenshop.

Annabelle Hydrangea

Note: We currently no longer offer the Annabelle Hydrangea but we do offer a newer improved version called the Incrediball® Hydrangea by Proven Winners Plants. The Incrediball has large blooms on very strong stems, that are able to hold the flowers upright, which is a common complaint of Annabelle hydrangeas.

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ Plant Facts

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9

Height: 3-5 Feet

Spread: 4-6 Feet

Sun: Full Sun – Partial Shade

Flower Color: White

Bloom Time: June to September

Scientific Name: Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Annabelle is the best known variety of Smooth Hydrangea arborescens. Until recently, this is the only Hydrangea arborescens variety easy to find in garden centers or even recognized by the public.

Annabelle Smooth Hydrangea has stunning white flowers, often producing heads over 10″ in diameter. Unlike the better known blue and pink hydrangeas (macrophyllas), Annabelle blooms every year even after severe pruning or intensely cold winters. The huge, white “drumstick” blooms appear in profusion without fail. Some people plant ‘Annabelle’ as a hedge since it can be cut back severely in the winter for a tidy effect.

‘Annabelle’ makes a spectacular show in colder regions as well as very warm ones. We’ve had reports that it is hardy even into Zones 2 and 3 in the United States (officially rated to to Zone 3). Forms of Hydrangea arborescens are actually native to eastern parts of the United States. If your climate is too harsh to grow macrophyllas, ‘Annabelle’ would make a wonderful alternative.

Annabelle Hydrangea Care

Like most other hydrangeas, they prefer morning sun and afternoon shade or dappled shade all day, especially in the south. In northern areas of the U.S., ‘Annabelle’ thrives in all day sun. Although some books say it does better than other hydrangeas in heavy shade, I have not found this to be the case. The more morning sun it gets the better it blooms for me. Arborescens will thrive in the deep south as well as cold northern climates. (zones 8-3)

Supporting Annabelle’s Heavy, Droopy Bloom Heads

Everyone who grows this beautiful hydrangea is aware of a very important challenge. The blooms on Annabelle are so large that they tend to bend to the ground after a rain. This can become a problem so severe that the entire shrub is flattened. Here are a few tricks one can use with all large blooming arborescens to reduce and even eliminate the problem.

1. Plant Annabelle next to a decorative fence. This is one of the best ideas we’ve seen for staking the heavy blooms of Hydrangea arborescens.

2. Plant at least three Annabelle shrubs together. As Annabelle’s mature they will grow together and support one another somewhat. Plant them three to four feet apart.

3. Prune plants only sparingly. If your hydrangeas tend to flatten in the rain, it may help to prune Annabelle to about 18″-24″ tall rather than cutting it to the ground every year. This will allow the stems to thicken a little each year, becoming stouter and better able to support the other branches and blooms. In addition, the heads will be more plentiful but slightly smaller (not so small that you will be disappointed). The slightly smaller heads will be less likely to droop. If you live in a more northern area, you may not be able to use this tip. The Annabelle stems may not survive the winter, and thus they will be new from the ground each year.

4. Put a short wire fence around each plant. If young Annabelle plants are surrounded by wire fencing before they put out new branches in the spring, the blooms will be held up off the ground. Garden centers often sell short (18″), green wire fencing for lining flower beds. Cut these into lengths that would encircle the base of the Annabelle (sort of like a short tomato cage). Then when the Annabelle leafs out, the wire is completely hidden.

Annabelle Hydrangea Pruning

The Annabelle Hydrangea grows blooms on new wood each year. These shrubs are vigirous bloomers, and can handle aggressive pruning. However, as stated above, only prune to 18″-24″ if you would like the plant to have stronger limbs. But, you can prune back all the way to the ground each year and these amazing plants will bounce back with beautiful flowers no problem. The only time you should not prune is in the spring, as that is when the shrubs are preparing to bloom.

Annabelle Hydrangea Spacing

If you are planting a hedge, or want the shrubs to connect and help support each other, plant these 3 to 4 feet apart. Otherwise, plant these shrubs 5-6 feet apart.

Similar Hydrangea Varieties to Annabelle

  • Growing Zones: 3-9

    Incrediball® Blush Hydrangea

  • Growing Zones: 3-9

    Incrediball® Hydrangea

  • Growing Zones: 3-9

    Invincibelle Limetta® Hydrangea

  • Growing Zones: 3-9

    Invincibelle Mini Mauvette® Hydrangea

  • Growing Zones: 3-9

    Invincibelle Wee White® Hydrangea

  • Growing Zones: 3-9

    Invincibelle® Ruby Hydrangea

  • Growing Zones: 3-9

    Invincibelle® Spirit II Hydrangea

The Latin name Hydrangea

Let’s begin at the beginning. For that we have to go back to 1739, when the botanist Grovonius gave this flower the Latin name Hydrangea. He thought that the shape was reminiscent of an ancient water pitcher. Combining the words ‘hydro’ (=water) and ‘angeion’ (=barrel or pitcher) resulted in the name Hydrangea. An appropriate name, since all hydrangea varieties need a lot of water.

The common name hortensia

Alongside the posh name Hydrangea, this lavish bloomer is commonly also referred to as hortensia. This name first occurred in 1771, and was invented by the French botanist Philibert Commerson. It’s not certain what inspired him, but there is a suspicion that he named the flower after a woman. Perhaps it was the name of his mistress, or a well-known female astronomer with whom he was acquainted. It could also be that the name was suggested by upper class ladies. He had close links with Hortense de Nassau, the daughter of the Prince of Nassau, with whom he had previously returned from a botanical expedition.

Another explanation

Separate from any references to a particular lady, it is also argued that the name ‘hortensia’ derives from a loose translation of the Latin for ‘from the garden’. The Latin word ‘hortus’ means ‘garden’, and Commerson found the hydrangea in the garden of the King of Mauritius, together with all sorts of other flowers and plants. Of course this could be true …

As we said before, there’s plenty to tell you about the names given to the hydrangea or hortensia. But what the truth is nobody knows, and so it remains guesswork … That’s not a problem, as long as you enjoy all the beauty that the hydrangea has to offer you!



Did you know? Hydrangea Day is celebrated on the 5th of January every year.

Of all the plants… the Endless Summer (Hydrangea macrophylla) has generated the most volcanic enthusiasm – Michael Dirr, the author of ‘Manual of Woody Landscape Plants’.

Hydrangeas are one of the most beautiful flowers. Inflorescence in the genus Hydrangea comes in groups. Hydrangea has long been a popular flowering shrub. The flowers are considered by many as Grandmother’s old-time flower.

Kingdom Plantae Division Magnoliophyta Class Magnoliopsida Order Cornales Family Hydrangeaceae Genus Hydrangea

Hydrangea is a genus of about 100 species of flowering plants native to southern and eastern Asia (from Japan to China, the Himalaya and Indonesia) and North and South America. Hydrangeas produce flowers from early spring to late autumn. The flowers of Hydrangea are carried in bunches, at the ends of the stems. Each individual Hydrangea flower is relatively small. However, the display of color is enhanced by a ring of modified bracts around each flower.

In most species of Hydrangea the flowers are white, but in some species, can be blue, red, pink, or purple. In Hydrangea species the exact color often depends upon the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. Acidic soils produce blue flowers, neutral soils produce pale cream petals, and alkaline soils result in pink or purple.

Facts About Hydrangea

  • Hydrangeas are one of very few plants that accumulate aluminium. Aluminium is released from acidic soils, and forms complexes in the hydrangea flower giving them their blue color.
  • Hydrangeas produce their main flower clusters from the tips of shoots formed from the previous season.
  • If the terminal buds of these shoots are destroyed, the plant usually fails to bloom. The chief causes of destruction of the terminal buds are excessive winter cold and uninformed pruning.
  • Hydrangeas are also widely used as dried flowers, especially the blue Hydrangeas.
  • The Japanese refer to these Hydrangea plants as Mountain Hydrangeas because they originate in the mountainous areas on the islands of Japan. These hydrangeas are smaller in stature and have smaller leaves and delicate lacecap flowers.
  • Although most Hydrangeas bloom in summer and fall, a few Hydrangeas have developed the ability to set new bloom buds in the spring after the old ones have been pruned off or damaged.
  • Endless Summer is just such a hydrangea. This trait is referred to as being “remontant”.

Types of Hydrangeas

There are 3 types of flower blooms in Hydrangea. They are –
Mophead – Globe shaped flower cluster, the most commonly recognized form of Hydrangea bloom.
Panicle – Long, somewhat cone-shaped flower cluster (particularly in Oakleaf Hydrangeas).
Lacecap – Flattened cluster of what appear to be tiny, immature buds surrounded at the edges by typical 4 to 5 petal flowers.

Further, there are many varieties of Hydrangeas. Some of the most popular varieties are tabulated below –

Common Names Scientific Names Uses
Bigleaf Hydrangea,
Garden Hydrangea,
Endless summer,
French hHdrangea,
Common Hydrangea
Hydrangea macrophylla The leaves, roots and flowers are antimalarial, antitussive and diuretic. They are said to be a more potent antimalarial than quinine.
Oakleaf hydrangea,
Snow Queen
Hydrangea quercifolia Can be used as a specimen plant where space is adequate, or as an untrimmed hedge or background where screening is desired.
Peegee hydrangea Hydrangea paniculata Grandiflora The flowers contain up to 4.06% rutin, which makes them useful for reducing the incidence of recurrent haemorrhages associated with increased capillary fragility, particularly in hypertension.
Smooth Hydrangea Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle The flowers are sweetly scented.
Climbing Hydrangea Hydrangea anomala petiolaris A boiled concoction of the leaves is used to make a syrup. The sweet sap is used as a drink.

from our stores – Pickupflowers – the flower expert

Growing Hydrangeas

  • Propagation of Hydrangeas is rather easy with cuttings obtained from the ends of non-flowering shoots with two or three pairs of leaves, from April to August.
  • Hydrangeas are easy to grow in well-drained soil, which should contain plenty of organic matter or humus.
  • It is best to root them in sand in a shaded area. Avoid planting it in hot, dry, exposed sites.
  • For planting, dig a large hole approximately two feet across and one foot deep.
  • Only the Hydrangeas which naturally have pink flowers will bloom blue, if grown in an acidic soil.
  • Hydrangea plants grow without difficulty in a wide variety of soils but prefer fairly rich moist soil.
  • A general-purpose fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 applied at a rate of 2 cups per 100 square feet in March, May and July is suggested.
  • It is not necessary to remove the mulch when fertilizing, but water soon after application to help dissolve the fertilizer and send it into the soil.
  • Hydrangeas can grow in full sun if they are watered well, but will bloom more freely in partial shade.
  • White blooms will always be white, while the blue or pink can be controlled by the pH of the soil (the closer to a balanced pH of 6.5, the lighter the color).
  • Hydrangeas need plenty of water, so plan to water thoroughly once per week or more frequently.
  • Pruning is the most essential factor in the growth of Hydrangeas. Since the flowers appear on previous year’s growth, prune only the stems that produced this year’s flowers; otherwise you will not have blooms next year.

Hydrangea Plant Care

  • In severe cold winter weather they should be covered. Pruning should be done in summer as soon as the flowering season is over.
  • When pruning, all the old flowering shoots should be removed down to the point on the stem where strong new growth is developing. If you want flowers, do not prune in late fall, winter or spring.

The Hydrangea Guru

Dr. Michael A. Dirr is a professor at the Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia. His lifelong passion for horticulture has positively influenced a generation of students, gardeners, nursery- men, and professional horticulturists. Dirr’s “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants” is the leading horticultural text and reference work, and, along with his Reference “Manual of Woody Plant Propagation”, has become the “Bible” for the landscape and nursery industry.

He is popularly known as the Hydrangea Guru for his exceptionally great research on Hydrangeas. Dirr’s Plant Introduction Program has con- tributed over 50 new plant introductions to the Green Industry. He developed Lady in Red, a variety of Hydrangea macrophylla. It is the first patented release from the University’s “Continued Adventures in Plant Improvement in the Department of Horticulture and Center for Applied Nursery Research” program, headed by Dr. Dirr.

Hydrangea is a deciduous shrub growing to a height of 1.5 to 2 meters. Leaves are opposite, petioled, oblong-ovate, acuminate, light green with serrate margins. Flowers are in large, terminal cymes; clusters up to 12 centimeters across, blue, pink, or white, with broadly oval sepals.

– Garden cultivation.
– Thrives well in Baguio and other high altitude areas.
– A popular hedge plant.
– Native to Japan and China.

• Leaves contain phyllodulcin, a sweet substance that can be used as a sugar substitute.
• Ethanolic extract of aerial parts isolated two new cyanogenic glycosides viz. acetonitrile (1) and {(2R)-2–2-(3-hydroxy-4-methoxy-phenyl)}acetonitrile (2). (7)
• Flowers yielded hydragenol glucoside. Acid hydrolysates of flower, leaf and root yielded a free isocoumarin, hydrangenol. (8)
• From characterization of dihydroisocoumarin constituents, leaves yielded two secoiridoid glucoside complexes: hydramacrosides A and B. (see study below) (9)
• Considered antiperiodic, antitussive, diuretic.
• Leaves, roots and flowers considered antimalarial, antitussive and diuretic.
• Young leaves, dried and rubbed becomes sweet
• Used to make sweet tea, or “tea in heaven,” used in Buddhist ceremonies.
• Leaves are dried, powdered and used as food flavoring.
• Young leaves and shoots can be eaten cooked.
• No known folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
• Elsewhere, used for malaria, as diuretic, antitussive.
• Antimalarial Activity: Study evaluated the antimalarial activity of fractions isolated from the leaves of Hydrangea macrophylla against Plasmodium yoelii. (2)
• Antimalarial Activity: In a study of the leaves of 13 common Japanese plants, the leaf extract of Hydrangea macrophylla inhibited the parasitic growth of Plasmodium falcifarum. (3)
• Phyllodulcin / Water Extraction: A subcritical water extraction, an alternative environmentally friendly extraction method, was developed for the extraction of phyllodulcin, the well known sweetener in Hydrangea macrophylla var. thunbergii. (4)
• Secoiridoid Glycosides: Study isolated seven secoiridoid glycosides from the leaves of H macrophylla subsp. serrata. (5)
• Halofuginone / Root / Immunomodulatory: Halofuginone, a drug derived from the hydrangea root, shows promise in the treatment of autoimmune disorders, inhibiting the development of Th17 cells in both mice and humans, interrupting processes in autoimmune pathology. (6)
• Hydramacrosides / Inhibition of Histamine Release: Hydramacrosides A and B, isolated from leaves of hydrangea macrophylla var. thunbergii exhibited an inhibitory effect on histamine release from rat mast cells induced by antigen-antibody reaction. (see constituents above) (9)
• Antifungal: Study evaluated the antifungal effect of leaves against Alternaria alternata, Aspergillus flavus, and Fusarium solani following poisoned food technique. Results showed significant reduction in the growth of tested fungi. The fungitoxic effect of the leaf increased when combined with Allium cepa bulb extract. (10)
• Prevention of Male Pattern Baldness: Study showed TGF-ß—which plays an important role in catagen induction during the hair cycle—activation of caspase in human hair follicles. The induction of catagen by TGF-ß is mediated via activation of caspases and that a suppressor of TGF-ß could help prevent male pattern baldness. (11)


Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Hi I was told not to feed my annabelle hydrangea as this weakens the stem for holding the flower head through out summer is this true . Many thanks



Hello there Usually feeding hydrangeas annually in the spring is sufficient, except if you have a very sandy light soil, then you might need to feed more often. If you feed too often you are likely to have masses of softer foliage.

2016-10-03 I have a lovely Annabelle in the garden which is now about a metre high. There are loads of new shoots developing around the main part of the base but which are almost separate plants. Should these be allowed to grow – I haven’t seen this in hydrangeas before. Many thanks



Hello, These plants can send up new shoots from the rootstock, so if you have room for them, then I would them to develop.



Hello I love hydrangea annabelle and would like to put it down the side of the driveway which has a 70cm width border. If pruned back each year would this plant grow too big for the border? Thanks

Total ameteur


Hello, Yes, I think it would be too big, but there is a more compact form called strong Annabelle, which if you don’t mind it spilling over the edges of the driveway should be OK. Please click on the following link to go straight to it. http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/hydrangea-arborescens-strong-annabelle–abetwo/classid.2000014460/



I am having some work done in the garden and need to move this plant. Will it survive being moved in the spring?



Hello, It really depends on how mature the plant is and how much of the rootball you can lift. Ideally though, this should be done when the plant is completely dormant.



Is Hydrangea Annabelle ok to plant in Scotland? I wonder if you could help me please. I am looking for a plant or shrub with the name ‘Annabelle’ in it, in recognition and memory of a wonderful cousin called Annabelle who has just passed away. I live in Glasgow, Scotland and I am looking for something which would survive our climate here, how successful is the Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’? Thank you for your time Regards

Elizabeth Jackson


Hello there, I am sorry to hear of your sad loss, but the Hydrangea ‘Annebelle’ are lovely plants – and they are fully hardy too, so they shouldn’t have a problem with the cold weather. I hope this helps. Helen Plant Doctor


Crocus Helpdesk

Specimen Ceanothus or another large bushy shrub…. Good afternoon, When I was first looking for a Ceanothus to replace the one we have in our front garden, I looked on your website, but you only had small ones. Our once lovely Ceanothus has been pruned out of all recognition again this year, as I planted it a bit too near our boundary when it was a baby. I know it may come back, but it is getting ridiculous as every time it grows back it has to be cut back again severely and then ooks a mess for most of the year. Have you got a nice, tall, bushy Ceanothus to replace it? I love my Ceanothus but perhaps if you don’t have a big one, do you have another large, flowering shrub as an alternative? Hope you can help Regards Margaret



Hello Margaret, it is rare to find larger sized Ceanothus as they are usually quite short-lived and don’t normally live longer than 6 – 8 years. We do have a selection of larger shrubs on our site like Hamamelis, Hydrangeas, Magnolias, Acer, Cornus, Cotinus, Philadelphus, Syringa and Viburnum, so you may find something of interest. They will be listed in this section. http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/ I hope this helps. Helen Plant Doctor


Crocus Helpdesk

Moving Hydrangeas Hello there, I have a wonderful Hydrangea ‘Tricolor’ which has just finished flowering for this year. However it is now getting too big for its space and I would like to move it. I am wondering if this is possible and if so if now is the best time to do this or if it would be better to wait till the spring. Hope you can help as it is a lovely plant and I do not want to lose it but it is definitely beginning to look unhappy in its current place, although the aspect is appropriate. Thanking you in advance for your time with this. Liz



Hello Liz, The best time to move established shrubs is in the autumn when the soil is still warm but the plant isn’t in full active growth – so now is perfect. Begin by marking a circle around the shrub, as wide as the widest branch. Dig a trench along the line of this circle. Use a fork to loosen the soil around the root ball as you go to reduce its size and weight so that it becomes manageable. When the root ball looks about the right size that you can still move it but there are still a lot of roots intact, begin to under cut the root ball with a sharp spade to sever the biggest woody roots. Roll up the root ball in sacking or plastic to protect the roots from damage and drying out. Move the shrub to a pre determined position. It is important to have the site ready so that you can transplant the shrub at once and it isn’t left for hours (or worse!) drying out. Remove the sacking and plant the shrub in the new hole, at the depth at which it was previously planted. Firm well, water well and mulch with a good thick layer of well rotted farmyard manure. I hope this helps. Helen Plant Doctor



Dear Helen Thank you so much for your prompt and helpful reply to my email about moving my Hydrangea. I will do as you say as I am very keen for it to survive! Thanks again Liz


Crocus Helpdesk

Hydrangea Annabelle with some stems still not flowering? I have a lovely Hydrangea Annabelle.But this was its second summer with a number of strong stems having no flowers. Shall I cut the stems back to the base? If so at what time of the year? Do I cut the stems with the flowers back to the base? If so at what time of the year? What is the best time to purchase and plant another one? Regards Martin

Martin Finch


Hello again Martin, It doesn’t matter if they have flowered or not, the same rules apply for all. Best regards, Helen Plant Doctor


Martin Finch

Hi Helen, Thanks for your answer. What about the healthy stems but have no flowers shall I cut these back? Regards Martin


Crocus Helpdesk

Hello Martin, These shrubs flower on the current seasons growth, but don’t really require pruning. If however you feel it is too big, you can cut it back to a woody framework in early spring. Ideally you should cut it to around 25cm if it is in an exposed position, or to 60cm if it is tucked into the back of a border. In each subsequent spring, you can cut it back to the lowest pair of buds just above this framework. To encourage flowers to form, you should make sure it is kept well watered during summer and feed it with Sulphate of Potash following the instructions on the box. As for buying and planting, the best time is autumn or spring. I hope this helps. Helen Plant Doctor


Crocus Helpdesk

Hydrangea not flowering Hi I have a Hydrangea in my garden. For a few years it was in a pot but for some reason, it only ever seem to flower every other year. The autumn before last, I planted it in the border as it was getting too big to leave in a pot. It didn’t flower last year so I was expecting it to bloom this year but it hasn’t got a single flower. Around the beginning of the year I noticed the slugs had had a go at it as it was looking poorly. However, I sorted that problem and the foliage is looking really healthy but it still hasn’t got a single flower. Any ideas about what could have gone wrong, please? Thanks Sylvia

Sylvia Styles


Hello Sylvia, There are a number of reasons why plants don’t flower, but the most likely cause of your problems are either a late frost killing off the buds, or it could be pruning at the wrong time of the year. I hope this helps. Helen Plant Doctor


Crocus Helpdesk

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ Dear Crocus I bought a Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle; from Crocus in May. I have had Hydrangeas before and compared to these the leaves on this plant were thin, papery and yellowish, not the usual strong and dark green leaf. The stems seemed thin and fragile but there were budding blooms so I planted it and hoped it would improve. It has bloomed and the flowers are beautiful, but the plant itself still seems weak and the stems don’t seem able to support the flowers. Any ideas why and what can I do to save it apart from feeding it, which I have been doing? Help! It’s too nice to loose! Regards Noreen

Noreen McGowan


Hello Noreen, These Hydrangeas are quite different to the mopeheads or lacecaps and it is quite normal for their stems to be thin and their foliage to be lighter in colour. Until they become better established, the flowerheads do weigh the stems down and they do need to be staked with bamboo canes to keep them upright. I would not be too concerned, but you should continue to feed it (according to the instructions on the packet of fertiliser you are using, and make sure it gets plenty of water throughout the summer. I hope this helps. Helen Plant Doctor


Crocus Helpdesk

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