Virtues: The latest member of the Invincibelle series of smooth hydrangea boasts a brand-new color: purple. The lacecap flowers comprise a handful of pale pink bracts floating amid masses of tiny, plum-purple fertile blossoms. The plant’s strong, upright stems are dark red, a good complement to the flowers’ unique shade. Left standing at the end of the season, the spent flower heads add interest to the fall and winter garden, meriting placement among ornamental grasses and other meadow-garden favorites.
Common name: Invincibelle Lace smooth hydrangea
Botanical name: Hydrangea arborescens subsp. radiata ‘SMNHRLL'
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Flowers: Lacecaps appear in summer, with a combination of sterile pale pink blossoms and small, dark purple fertile flowers. The flower buds form on the current year's new growth.
Foliage: Dark green and broadly oval, with toothed edges. Deciduous.
Habit: This hydrangea grows four to five feet tall and wide. The purple-red stems are strong and unlikely to flop under the weight of the flowers.
Origin: Hydrangea arborescens is a fuss-free species native to much of eastern North America, where it tends to grow in woods and on streambanks. The cultivar Invincibelle Lace was introduced by Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs in 2022.
How to grow it: Invincibelle Lace will thrive in part shade or full sun and well-drained soil with regular moisture. Its tolerance for full sun increases at the northern end of its growing range. Cut the stems back in late winter. You can snip off just the top third of each stem, cut the stems down close to ground level or cut anywhere between these two extremes. Note, however, that leaving more stem will preserve a woody base, promoting an upright shape in the next season. Flowers are formed on new growth, so pruning in late winter will not impede the bloom (as it does on H. macrophylla). USDA Zones 3–8.
Images courtesy of Proven Winners