Plant of the Week: INCREDIBALL® Blush Smooth hydrangea

The weather this year has provided more drama than the first day of middle school.

Too hot? Too dry? Too wet? It’s all happening somewhere. Yet there’s a group of hydrangeas that will just roll right through it like an experienced gym teacher. (I seem to remember P.E. being particularly embarrassing in 7th grade).

I’m talking about Hydrangea arborescens or smooth hydrangea. This species is native to North America and can handle a lot of the weird weather that our vast continent has to offer.

Incrediball® Blush is a pink version of one of our most popular smooth hydrangea varieties, Incrediball®.

And these have indeed tolerated a lot of the intense weather conditions that we’ve experienced this year. Of course, they’re known for thriving in very cold conditions, but they can take some heat, too.

Sorry, it won’t live through fire, but established plants will survive periods of very hot, dry weather. The flowers may be compromised, but the plant itself will endure.

They will also live through the opposite – too much water. As with the other sort of water stress, you don’t want to make a habit of planting it in wet conditions, but it will typically get through a season with above-average rainfall.

Generally, they’ll work through challenging growing seasons better than H. macrophylla.

Remember that these plants’ flowers are not affected by soil pH, so you won’t see any dramatic color changes. Now is when they shift from white or pink back to green. Want to know when your hydrangea flowers are ready to rest for the season? This online article about late-season hydrangea flowers features many of our varieties and the sage advice of my manager and friend, Stacey Hirvela.

Like the original Incrediball, the blush version has exceptionally large mophead blooms that are held upright on very sturdy stems that don’t flop.

Both varieties are hardy in USDA zone 3-8 and are bigger plants, growing 4-5′ tall and wide. Give them enough room to grow so you can really enjoy the supersized show.

I’m blushing…

This week we’ve been enjoying the long-awaited GardenComm virtual conference. I’m listening to one of the brilliant speakers as I write this.

Ingenuity is vital in today’s world, and the conference is presented online for the second year in a row. While I appreciate all the work that goes into the online version, and it’s remarkably fun seeing people pop up on my computer screen for a chat, it doesn’t replace face-to-face. I miss y’all! Plus, this double-tasking is much less tempting when we’re onsite.

Last night after dinner, I told my husband Joe that this little blog received a Silver Award from GardenComm and that I had to remember to attend the awards and honors program on Saturday afternoon to see who would win the Golds in all the categories.

We live in a big house in the country with my mom. My aunt and uncle are also with us for an extended stay while they close on their new house not far away. We were all sitting on the back deck enjoying the warm evening breeze when Joe brought up the award. I hadn’t brought it up until then. They all gave me a scolding for not saying something sooner and making a big deal out of my achievement. Without thinking, I played it down, saying that I nominated myself and I didn’t have a chance to win the Gold. They said it doesn’t matter; an award is an award. And they are so right!

From now on, I’m going to proudly crow about my new Silver Award! The committee took the time to look at it and include me in the mix with some very fine bloggers. I still don’t think I have a chance to get the Gold, but that’s not important. I will be online tomorrow to see who does and congratulate them. More importantly, I hope the attendees see me on the list, visit my blog and sign up for the email version. I think it’s pretty neat. It’s an award-winning blog, after all! – Natalie

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