QUESTION: What is the best way to secure Annabelle hydrangeas to keep the beautiful blooms from breaking in the wind and rain?
This is a question many gardeners ask, especially since one of our favorite varieties, ‘Annabelle,’ is at its best right now, and the big, heavy bloom heads can get quite heavy and messy when they’re hit by soaking rains. Here’s an answer from The Garden Bench a few years ago that bears repeating:
The best way to keep them standing is to prop them up. Judith King, who writes a Web site devoted to hydrangeas, has several suggestions. She says you can plant them next to a decorative fence, plant three Annabelle shrubs together so they prop each other up, or, early in the spring, surround each plant with a short wire cage. As they leaf out and grow, the foliage hides the cage, and all you see is your tall, lovely hydrangeas, happily standing.
One cultural practice to consider: Some gardeners cut the stems of Annabelles close to the ground in the fall. Since these hydrangeas bloom on new growth, they’ll grow and bloom just fine next summer, but the stems will not have had a chance to grow as thick and sturdy. If you leave the stems 18 to 24 inches tall, those stouter stems will help support the newer branches and blooms next year.