Plant of the Month by Martin Fish
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’
A part of my job is answering gardening questions and a couple I’m regularly asked is about choosing a variety of hydrangea and how to prune it.
Fortunately, I can answer both questions in one go because I usually recommend is Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’.
As hydrangeas go this is one of the most reliable flowering types and produces an abundance of large creamy-white heads on a rounded bush from July, all the way through August and well into September. The individual heads can measure up to 25cm (10in) across and on an established shrub you’ll get dozens of flowers. On the plant in my garden I regularly get over 40 heads each summer!
The great thing about ‘Annabelle’ is it will grow just about any where in the garden – in full sun or dappled shade, and when grown in a north-facing border the white blooms really lift the area and brighten it up.
As for pruning, this has got to be one of the easiest hydrangeas to prune. In mid-March it’s simply a case of pruning all the stems down to a couple of inches from ground level. I then feed with a little general-purpose fertiliser and the plant will make strong new stems over the spring and summer. It’s on this new growth that flowers are produced in summer.
Martin Fish is a gardening columnist, broadcaster, speaker, RHS judge and all-round horticulture expert. He writes for publications including Garden Answers, Kitchen Garden and Which? Gardening.
We have worked with Martin closely over a number of years and each month he will be choosing a favourite Plant of the Month for us, with tips and advice for planting and growing in the garden.