When it comes to white showy hydrangeas, two varieties that often steal the spotlight are Incrediball and Annabelle hydrangeas.
As a dedicated hydrangea gardener and fanatic – as you can tell from my blog name, I want to share my personal experience growing both of these beautiful hydrangeas in my own backyard, providing a side-by-side comparison to help you tell the difference between these two beautiful yet similar hydrangeas.
In this post, we’ll explore the blooms, growth habits, and overall impressions of Incrediball hydrangea and Annabelle hydrangea, based on my firsthand experience of growing them for over 3 years!
Annabelle Hydrangea is a popular shrub that produces large, round flower heads that are typically white or light green in color. It is a type of Hydrangea arborescens and is native to North America.
Annabelle Hydrangea can grow up to 5 feet tall and wide, making it a good choice to use as a garden border hedge or fill a bigger space in your garden.
Annabelle Hydrangea produces flower heads that are typically 6-10 inches in diameter, consists of many small, fertile flowers surrounded by larger, showy sterile flowers.
When I first grow Annabelle hydrangea from smaller plants, the bloom was relatively smaller, around 4-8 inches. As long as you stay patient, this plant will reward you with bigger beautiful white blooms in just 1-2 years.
Annabelle Hydrangea blooms in late spring or early summer and continues to bloom for an extended period of time until fall. Although it is not a repeat bloomer like Endless Summer hydrangea, the blooms do last throughout the entire summer which I love.
The bloom begins as a delicate white with a hint of lime green, transitions to a beautiful white color, then eventually takes on a green tone as the flower ages and acquires a crisp, paper-like texture.
The blooms make great cut flowers, and I often gather the drooping blooms and place them in a vase indoors or give them to friends which always makes a great gift.
Growing Annabelle Hydrangea is quite easy. It tolerates a range of soil pH levels, but similar to other hydrangea varieties, it prefers slightly acidic soil. I have successfully grown it in a morning sun and afternoon shade corner of my garden, where it thrives.
Note when the sunlight is too strong, the some of the petals will turn crispy brown. Some people will add a fabric overhang it to prevent this. I either clip them before that to keep the beautiful blooms inside, or just let it be.
If you are looking for a show-stopping hydrangea with massive white flower heads and stronger stems, Incrediball Hydrangea could be a great choice for your garden.
This variety is an improvement over the popular Annabelle Hydrangea, featuring larger inflorescences measuring up to 12 inches across and hardier branches that can support more weight.
Incrediball Hydrangea can grow up to 4-5 feet tall and wide, making it a great choice for creating a focal point in your garden, or fill a large space in your garden.
One of the main benefits of Incrediball Hydrangea is its strong stem.
While I haven’t had the opportunity to test this personally due to the dry summers in my location, I have noticed that Incrediball’s stems seem relatively stronger compared to my other hydrangea plants, although the difference is not significant.
Overall, Incrediball Hydrangea is a stunning and reliable plant that adds beautiful large clusters of white flowers, making it an instant conversation starter in any garden.
If you are considering growing Incrediball Hydrangea or Annabelle in your garden and are in the process of choosing one, you may be wondering how they compare, given they look alike in some photos.
I’ve grown them side by side in the same corner of my backyard, planting them less than a year apart, I thought I’d share some photos and my personal experience observing first hand.
First of all, I can assure you that they are indeed similar in terms of condition and appearance.
However, there are some subtle differences that set them apart.
Incrediball has slightly thicker stems, although this difference is not easily noticeable. I’ve observed that Incrediball’s stems tend to grow taller, making the entire plant 1-2 feet taller than Annabelle.
While Incrediball hydrangeas are often described as having an upright growth habit and not flopping over as the blooms get bigger, I’ve found that they still have some flopping, although less than Annabelle.
Since I’m growing them side by side, when you are looking at this side by side comparison, you can see they are relatively similar in terms of stem strength and flopping behaviors.
However, because my Annabell hydrangea flopped a lot more on the bottom half of the plants, I used a twine to tie them up to the fence to keep the bloom away from ground. If I didn’t tie the stem up, I’d say Annabelle flopped a bit more.
I have seen this very extreme photo from Hydrangea.com showcasing Incrediball versus Annabelle hydrangea, but I have to say personally growing and observing these two types of hydrangea, I have not seen such a difference.
When it comes to the flowers, there is a slight difference in size. Based on my own observation, Incrediball has blooms that are 20% – 30% larger than Annabelle’s flowers.
This is obvious when you are comparing the biggest blooms of Annabelel and Incrediball. The plant on the right is Incrediball, and you can clearly see the blooms are larger if we are comparing the biggest blooms from each plant.
In terms of petal shape and color, both hydrangea species look the same so I cannot tell the difference between Incrediball and Annabelle hydrangeas.
Another subtle difference between Incrediball and Annabelle hydrangea I’ve noticed is the leaves.
Incrediball hydrangea has rougher or more textured leaves, while Annabelle’s leaves are flatter and smoother. This distinction is only noticeable upon close inspection.
Here’s a photo of them side by side, but it might be hard to see their 3D dimension from a 2D photo.
The growing condition of both Annabelle hydrangea and Incrediball hydrangea is very similar in my opinion. I grow them in the same morning sun afternoon shade environment and I can see both plants are thriving.
Regarding growing conditions, both Annabelle hydrangea and Incrediball hydrangea thrive similarly.
I grow them in the same morning sun and afternoon shade environment, and both plants are thriving. I provide them with the same amount of water using my automatic irrigation system at a medium water level.
I have noticed that both Incrediball and Annabelle hydrangeas are less thirsty than other hydrangea species in my garden, such as Nikko Blue and Endless Summer, where the flowers droop when water is lacking.
So overall I’d say both hydrangeas are really easy to care for and great for any busy gardeners who are looking to add beautiful large white blooms to their summer garden.
My preference on Annabelle vs Incrediball hydrangeas
In the comparison of Incrediball hydrangea vs Annabelle hydrangea, my personal experience has revealed surprising similarities between these two varieties, which is different from some other garden site I’ve seen.
While there are slight differences in flower size and upright stems, the overall condition and growth habits of both hydrangeas have been remarkably alike in my garden.
If you prefer the larger blooms and more upright structure, go with Incrediball hydrangea; If you prefer smaller more delicate blooms, Annabelle could be a great choice.
As a landscaping flowering plant, I definitely prefer Incrediball hydrangeas with its stronger stems to hold the flowers, plus its impressive large blooms.
If you prefer to use hydrangea as cut flowers and bring them inside, I have a mixed feeling about Incrediball hydrangea.
It definitely puts on a show with giant flower heads during the summer time, but it may not the the best choice if you are growing them for vase flowers. When using for interior decorating, I much prefer smaller blooms. When the flower is as big as my head, it requires a very large vase and often looks out of proportion with the rest of the home decor.
So for enjoying flowers indoors, I often found myself picking more Annabelle and smaller blooms from the Incrediball hydrangea plant. So with that it is really personal preference!
Overall, if you are looking for reliable hydrangea with beautiful blooms, you can’t go wrong with either Incrediball or Annabelle hydrangea.
Both plants are quite easy to grow and maintain in my experience, and they will add a stunning touch to any garden with long lasting blooms from spring to fall!