How to Plant, Grow and Care For ‘Incrediball’ Hydrangea
'Incrediball' Hydrangeas are one of the most popular white-blooming hydrangeas planted by gardeners each season. Their ability to thrive in cold weather makes them a great choice for cooler spring climates. In this article, gardening expert and hydrangea enthuisiast Jill Drago shares all you need to know about 'Incrediball' Hydrangeas and their care.
The hydrangea. We know it. We love it. Hydrangea arboresecens is a species of hydrangea that is native to the eastern United States. This beautiful species naturally resides in rocky hillsides in the woods near streams.
Luckily for us, this cultivar made its way into our gardens and has become extremely popular. Through the love of the smooth hydrangea came the cultivar of ‘incrediball’ hydrangea.
‘Incrediball’ hydrangeas have become very popular over the past few years, and it is easy to see why. If you are a lover of Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle,’ you will have no issue loving ‘incrediball’ as well. This cultivar was bred to be an improvement of the classic ‘Annabelle’, and the results are excellent. This strong, upright-growing hydrangea has everything you could want from a low-maintenance shrub.
If you have had your eyes on the ‘incrediball’ hydrangea you have come to the right spot. Let’s talk all about his beautiful plant as well as how to grow and care for it for years to come.
|common name ‘Incrediball’ Hydrangea|
|botanical name Hydrangea arborescens ‘Abetwo Incrediball’|
|plant type Shrub|
|bloom colors White to Green|
|sun requirements Partial Sun to Full Sun|
|water needs Moderate|
|height 48 – 60 Inches|
|spacing 60 – 72 Inches|
|hardiness zones 3-8|
|soil needs Well drained|
The ‘incrediball’ hydrangea is a cultivar of Hydrangea arborescens or smooth hydrangea. ‘Incrediball’ is a hybrid of the very well-known ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea. The ‘annabelle’ hydrangea is beautiful but it is known to flop under the weight of the heavy blossoms. This shrub was bread to combat those floppy stems, and it is a smashing success!
This cultivar will grow up to 4 or 5 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. Massive 12-inch flowers will form on sturdy upright growing stems. These flowers will begin to blossom in mid-summer in white and, as the season progresses, will age to a nice shade of green. These gorgeous flowers will hold their color through the first frost.
This is a very hardy hydrangea, tolerant of the chilly temperatures in zone 3 as well as the heat of zone 8! This wide hardiness range makes ‘incrediball’ a great selection for so many gardeners!
‘Incrediball’ is easy to propagate right at home. The best way to propagate all cultivars of hydrangeas is by taking cuttings.
In the early summer, find a nice green stem with a few sets of leaves on it and cut it off of the shrub. This cutting should be at least 6 inches long. Remove the bottom sets of leaves so you have exposed some leaf nodes which will work as growth points.
Dip the cutting in some rooting powder and stick the cutting into some sterile growing medium. It can be helpful to add a stake to your container and place a plastic bag over the top. This bag will keep the cutting warm and the soil moist.
Gently tug on the cutting every week or two, and you will eventually notice that roots have taken hold. At this point, you are free in the ground, or you can allow it to grow a bit more in the pot.
Whatever you choose, it is always a good idea to harden your cutting off. Take your pots outdoors for about a week to allow the cutting to get used to the elements.
Planting is the first step in getting them into your garden and is quite easy. Once you have selected the right plant for you, you will need to find the best spot in your garden. ‘Incrediball’ hydrangeas grow best in full to partial sun.
Once you have found the right spot, dig a hole about twice as wide and as deep as the rootball of the plant. Situate your plant with its best face forward, and then backfill the hole with your garden soil. I like to add compost to the top of the soil for a nutrition boost.
Water your newly planted hydrangea heavily. Keep your eyes on the shrub for the rest of its first season in your garden to ensure that it is growing properly and getting enough water.
How to Grow ‘Incrediball’ Hydrangeas
Now that you have your ‘Incrediball’ hydrangea planted in your garden let’s learn how to care for this flowering shrub so it can thrive.
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball’ grows best in partial to full sun. This could range from 4-6 hours of sunlight or more per day. If you have planted this cultivar in full sun, you will want to keep your eye on the plant to make sure it doesn’t need extra water.
Smooth hydrangeas have been known to flop if they are too shady, so be sure that you do not plant your ‘incrediball’ in deep shade.
This cultivar is no different from other hydrangeas in terms of their need for water. One inch a week is the standard that these flowering shrubs will require from you.
Be on the lookout if you have planted ‘incrediball’ in containers or full sun. If planted in either of these situations, they will need more frequent watering than those planted in shaded gardens.
‘Incrediball’ will thrive in rich soil that is well draining. Well-draining soil should be able to retain moisture without pooling which can rot the roots of your plants.
If your soil pools a bit, this cultivar can tolerate it. It may just take a bit of compost to amend your soil so that it can retain the right amount of moisture for your plants.
‘Incrediball’ is hardy in zones 3-8. This means that this cultivar is quite cold and heat tolerant. Wrapping your hydrangeas over the winter is not necessary.
‘Incrediball’ blooms on new wood, so if there is any major winter damage, you can just prune the shrub to the ground and start fresh in the spring.
‘Incrediball’ does not require any special fertilization. Hydrangeas can benefit from a basic fertilizer in the springtime. Even though this cultivar’ was bred for stronger stems, you will want to make sure you are not fertilizing too frequently.
Over fertilizing will cause weaker stems which could cause the stems to flop under the weight of the heavy blossoms. This happens because too much fertilizer will cause the hydrangea to push vegetative growth, which will result in leggy stems.
This cultivar is quite low maintenance. Some gardeners may prefer to deadhead their spent hydrangeas, while others enjoy leaving the aged blossoms on their shrubs. This is entirely up to you, and there is no real benefit to deadheading since these shrubs will not rebloom.
Weeding your gardens and removing any other plant debris is a great way to keep your gardens looking beautiful and also to keep the plants healthy. Plant debris is known to spread fungal diseases as well as insects. Give your garden a once-over every week or so to keep everything in good shape.
As with other smooth hydrangeas, ‘Incrediball’ blooms on new wood. This means that the flower buds will be formed on growth that is fresh in the spring. This makes life simple when it comes to pruning.
You are free to prune in the fall when you are cleaning up your garden, or you can wait until the spring and prune before you notice any new green growth forming. If you do not get to pruning at all, that is also okay! Older woodier stems can provide support for branches with heavy flowers.
Cut them to knee height or to the ground if you are looking to rejuvenate your shrubs.
There are no real pest threats when it comes to hydrangeas. However, you will notice your general garden pests setting up shop in your ‘incrediball’.
Aphids, beetles, and spider mites are very common in gardens in the summertime and hydrangeas are not exempt from their damage.
The good news is that if you are keeping your hydrangea watered, it will not show any signs of stress. Pests, especially spider mites, love to feast on stressed plants. If you notice the webbing of spider mites, spray your plant down with a strong spray from your hose. The water pressure should be enough to knock them off.
The same goes for aphids as far as control. However, these pesky garden pests are sneaky and can damage some of your plants.
The insects themselves are tiny and usually green, making them difficult to see until you notice what appears to be millions of them on your stems. You may also notice ants. This is another sign of aphids.
Ants feed on the aphid’s sweet excrement and, in turn, end up protecting the aphids from predators. Spray your plants down to knock these little guys off of your plant as well. You can also mix dish soap and water with a little bit of rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and directly spray it on the aphids themselves.
Japanese beetles are a bit more tricky since they can easily fly around your garden. When these beetles take hold of your plants they will nearly strip your leaves if they are left to their own devices.
Mind your lawn to make sure there is not a large grub population which will lead to more beetles in your gardens. Fill a bucket of soapy water and knock the beetles into the bucket.
Due to the shady growing conditions that ‘incrediball’ hydrangeas will likely be growing in, there is a higher risk for fungal diseases. These fungal diseases may be powdery mildew, leaf spot, root rot, or botrytis blight.
These fungal diseases can be prevented by keeping your gardens neat and by removing any infected plant tissues from any nearby plants.
If you need to treat your shrub, try a copper fungicide, or ask your local garden center for product recommendations based on what they have in stock.
While many other species have a neat growth habit the smooth hydrangea, including ‘incrediball’, has a bit more of a wild habit. Now, I am not talking about crazy and unruly, but it is a bit more whimsical than the others.
This shrub can be planted in the same ways as other types of hydrangeas, such as in containers, hedges, or a woodland edge, as long as you are okay with imperfect lines.
Keep in mind the native habitat of the smooth hydrangea. These shrubs can be found growing on rocky slopes. If you have a slope in your yard that could use some erosion control, planting ‘incrediball’ would be helpful and beautiful.
Can ‘Incrediball’ be turned blue?
Unfortunately, no. The changing of flower color is specific only to bigleaf hydrangeas. These hydrangeas are sensitive to the pH of the soil which is what alters the blooms from blue to pink.
‘Incrediball’ will bloom white and the petals will change to a shade of jade green as the flowers mature and the season begins to cool off.
Does ‘Incrediball’ hydrangea flop?
The ‘incrediball’ hydrangea was specifically bred not to have flopping branches. These branches are strong and upright. That being said, all hydrangeas are susceptible to flopping due to the weight of their gorgeous flowers. This can be seen happening especially after heavy rain.
If you are worried about your hydrangeas flopping you can leave some old wood stems in place. These woodier stems will provide some stricture and support for the new stems that will be bearing the flowers.
What should I plant with ‘Incrediball hydrangeas?
There are a number of different companions that grow well with this cultivar. Select what you like, as long as it meets similar growing requirements and won’t compete for the same nutrients.
How do I winterize my ‘Incrediball’ hydrangea?
‘Incrediball’ hydrangeas do not need to be winterized. These hardy shrubs are cold-tolerant and will survive the winter very nicely. Of course, if you have your plant growing in an area that gets a lot of wind you may opt to wrap your plant. Use some burlap or a plant bag to keep your hydrangea warm over the winter.
If you notice any winter damage on your plant in the early spring, you can begin to clean it up once you are out of the threat of frost. You may notice broken branches or leaf buds that have been frostbitten. The good news is that hydrangeas are resilient plants. It may take them a season to recover from frost damage but they will be healthy and growing again once the weather warms up.
What is ‘Incrediball Blush?’
If you are seeking a pink ‘incrediball’ you are in luck! There is also a smooth hydrangea cultivar that goes by the name of ‘incrediball blush’. You will get everything you love about the original cultivar but with silvery pink massive flowers. This pink blooming cultivar will flower all summer long until the first frost, and will grow from 4-5 feet.
The ‘incrediball’ hydrangea would make a lovely addition to any garden, especially a garden that has a cottage vibe. The whimsical growth habit is really lovely and a welcome change from the more formal hydrangea species.
Adding ‘incrediball’ hydrangeas to an all-white garden would offer texture and beautiful contrast once the flowers age to green. I hope you will give this cultivar a try this season. It will not let you down!