How to Care for Snowball Hydrangea Plants
Hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp.) are popular spring-flowering shrubs that produce showy clusters of flowers in varying shapes, depending on the species and cultivar.
Some hydrangea flowers grow in globuse flowerheads sometimes referred to as "snowballs." A few of these hydrangeas have white flowers, although you will also find cultivars with pink and blue flowerheads.
Snowball hydrangeas are very cold hardy, as they can survive winters in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9.
White Snowball Hydrangea Cultivars
Unlike pink and blue bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla, zones 6 to 9) known as mophead hydrangeas, which also have globuse flowerheads, white hydrangeas are not dependent on soil pH for their bloom color.
Let's look at some cultivars of the native smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens, zones 3 to 9), also known as the wild hydrangea, that have white, snowball-like flowerheads.
The rounded flowerheads of white snowball hydrangeas do not change color depending on the pH of the soil.
The Annabelle hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle', zones 3 to 9) is a naturally occurring cultivar of the smooth hydrangea that was discovered in Anna, Illinois. It produces clusters of small, white blooms. Each flower cluster can be 2 to 6 inches wide.
The Annabelle hydrangea blooms primarily from May through July, with additional sporadic blooming through September.
The Annabelle hydrangea bush has heights between 3 and 5 feet. A potential drawback of this cultivar is that the heavy flowerheads droop down as a result of their weight.
The flowers of the Incrediball® hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'Abetwo', zones 3 to 9), another white snowball hydrangea, are lime green when they first emerge but become pure white.
This patented cultivar was developed from the Annabelle hydrangea. However, the flowerheads of this cultivar are about a foot in diameter, which is larger than those of the Annabelle hydrangea. Each flowerhead is also more upright and also has more individual flowers on every flowerhead.
The Abetwo cultivar begins blooming at the beginning of June and remains in bloom for about two months. It has heights of between 4 and 5 feet.
Snowball Hydrangea Care
Snowball hydrangea plants are considered relatively low-maintenance shrubs. Let's look at the care and culture needs of these deciduous shrubs.
Snowball Hydrangea: Sun or Shade?
Like other species of hydrangea, snowball hydrangeas perform best in part shade. Morning sun is better than afternoon sun, because these shrubs will need a lot more watering if planted in full sun.
While they can handle many different kinds of soil, the leaves of snowball bushes tend to decline during drought. They need consistent moisture in order to perform at their best. It is equally important, however, to grow these bushes in well-draining soil to avoid root diseases.
The smooth hydrangea and its cultivars bloom on new wood. That means that you can prune these shrubs down to the ground in late winter to revitalize the plant without jeopardizing the next year's bloom. Doing so is recommended to energize the shrub.
Even when they are not cut back to the ground, it is a good idea to prune out weak or diseased branches in early spring before new growth begins.
Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.