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In full, spectacular bloom at this time in Pennsylvania is Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'. The straight species is native to the eastern part of the US and 'Annabelle' was discovered in the nearby town of Anna, Illinois (supposedly named after the women or 'belle' of the town, hence the name 'Annabelle'). The flowers can grow up to 8-12 inches across and can remain showy for several weeks. Some gardeners let the flower heads remain on the plant to add some winter interest.
The plant will grow in a mounding form to about 5 in height and spread. For those that are not interested in the dried flower heads for winter interest, H. arborescens 'Annabelle' can be pruned to the ground after dormancy sets in (or done in late winter after the dried flowers no longer have an aesthetic appeal) as the flowers only grow on new wood. It will grow in a wide range of light conditions but tends to wilt down when soil conditions turn dry (a good mulching should prevent this in most soils). There is no fall color or fruit of ornamental value. H. arborescens 'Annabelle' is not suited as a accent shrub but better suited to be blended into a bed with other plants.
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