I’ve been growing two varieties of H. arborescens: ‘Abetwo’, which has the trade name Incrediball®, and ‘NCHA1’, which has the trade name Invincibelle® Spirit. I think both of them are far better choices for a cold climate garden than any macrophylla.
When I first saw photos of Invincibelle Spirit, I wasn’t sure I liked the color, but I’ve found it much more pleasing “in real life.”This shrub started blooming in early July and hasn’t stopped. The flowers open up a deep pink and slowly fade, giving a pleasing multi-hued effect. Despite the heat and dry weather they experienced, the first flowers still look good, not browned or shriveled. And I haven’t babied it at all. It got no protection for winter and has not been fertilized, though it is in a moist location and gets about a half day of sun. Yes, I am very happy with this shrub, especially with Actaea simplex ‘Black Negligee’ providing the backdrop.
Perhaps you’ve seen this image of the world’s largest hydrangea blooms?Pretty amazing, huh? (Just to clarify, I don’t think Proven Winners has actually claimed Incrediball’s blooms are the world’s largest. That’s my own hyperbole.) Some people find them grotesque. But not to worry, the blooms on my Incrediball aren’t nearly that big: The blossoms are bigger than on Incredibelle Spirit, but they are by no means out of scale with the rest of the plant. Incrediball is a bit further back in the bed, so it gets a little less sun, but otherwise it has gotten the same treatment as Invincibelle Spirit. The soil was amended with organic matter, but neither shrub has been fertilized and neither got any winter protection.
The one weird thing about Incrediball is all the flowers are blooming beneath the leaves.I still can’t see the blossoms from the front of the bed, though we do enjoy them from the windows. This may be a function of plant immaturity, or it may be some other environmental factor. I am happy enough with this shrub that I’d be willing to move it to a sunnier location if that would help it get those flowers up higher. But I think I will give it another year where it is.
We’ve spent a lot of time fussing and fretting over that other hydrangea, but I thought it was time to highlight a few hydrangeas that earn their keep without being catered to. How about you?
Proven Winners sent me Invincibelle Spirit and Incrediball to trial in my garden.