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‘Spirit’ adds reliable pink hydrangea to the Midwestern garden

Breeding breakthrought Invincibelle 'Spirit' is the first pink-blooming mop head Hydrangea arborescens. Photo courtesy ProvenWinners/ColorChoice

Breeding breakthrough Invincibelle 'Spirit' is the first pink-blooming mop head Hydrangea arborescens. Photo courtesy ProvenWinners/ColorChoice

This spring, look for a lovely new pink hydrangea with an Invincibelle ‘Spirit’ in garden centers, online retailers and mail order catalogs.

It is the same species as the popular white, mop-head, ‘Annabelle,’ (H. arborescens), probably the most reliable hydrangea in the Midwestern garden.

Sometimes called the first ‘pink Annabelle,’ Invincibelle ‘Spirit’ is a breeding breakthrough from North Carolina State University and Spring Meadow Nursery, a wholesale grower in Grand Haven, Mich. It is marketed under the Proven Winners/ColorChoice brand.

‘Spirit’ did incredibly well last year in my garden. Last spring, it arrived in a four-inch Proven Winners pot. I planted it immediately in a shady spot and the hydrangea quickly grew into a 24-inch tall shrub with five stems sporting dusty pink flowers off and on all summer.

‘Spirit’ can be planted in part shade to full sun. If in full sun, the plant will need more water. In early spring, apply a slow-release fertilizer formulated for trees and shrubs, following the package instructions. In winter, the dried flower heads turn tan and provide some interest in the seasonal landscape.

Although it tolerates a wide range of planting sites, ‘Spirit’ does best in organically rich, well-drained, moist, but not wet, soil. At maturity, this fast-growing shrub will be three- to four-foot tall and wide.

Hydrangea arborescens is a native species. It blooms on current season’s growth and can be pruned in late winter or early spring. Winter hardy throughout Indiana, it tolerates being cut back to the ground.

As an added bonus, Proven Winners/ColorChoice will donate $1 from the sale of each Invincibelle ‘Spirit’ hydrangea to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation with a goal of raising $1 million.

Garden clubs, Master Gardener groups and garden retailers are encouraged to hold fundraisers with the plants. Here’s more info.

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