The most frequent question about hydrangeas is why don’t they bloom.
Breeders have boosted the reliably blooming types by at least two in the last couple of years, and these hardy hydrangeas have their roots in native species.
Most gardeners already know about ‘Annabelle’, a native hydrangea (H. arborescens), which has large, white, mop top flowers. Invincibelle Spirit was the first pink-blooming ‘Annabelle’ type, introduced in 2010 by Proven Winners/ColorChoice plants. Although there was a lot of excitement about the breeding breakthrough, the enthusiasm waned once we planted it in the garden.
Invincibelle Spirit was wimpy, wimpy, wimpy the first three years and the color was more of a dirty pink rather than vibrant hue. Eventually it bulked up in the garden and improved its performance, color and length of bloom, especially if given a bit more sun than its shade-tolerant sister, ‘Annabelle’.
Enter Invincibelle Spirit II, a much-improved introduction of the pink-bloomer, which I got this spring to trial. The flowers are a larger, brighter pink, darker leaves and stronger stems. It has bloomed all summer sitting in the nursery pot, awaiting its forever home in my landscape. It is in the 3-4 foot tall and wide range. Proven Winners ColorChoice says eventually the original will be taken off of the market.
And, as with it predecessor, $1 from every plant sold will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Center. It will be available at garden centers in 2016.
Another reliable bloomer is ‘Haas Halo’, introduced by Plants Nouveau in 2011. This stunner has pure white, lace cap flowers that are 14 inches wide on sturdy, upright stems, even in withering heat.
I bought this hydrangea two years ago and am pleased to report it is a very vigorous plant that has continued to bloom throughout the summer, even without regular watering.
‘Haas Halo’ will be in the 4-5 foot tall and wide range at maturity, with glossy, blue-green foliage. It does best with morning sun, but can take it full on if given water periodically.
These hydrangeas bloom on current season growth, so they can be cut back however far you’d like in late winter or early spring and still produce gorgeous flowers in summer.