Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Sunday - April 10, 2011

From: Wilmette, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Annabelle hydrangeas blossoms drooping to ground in Wilmette, IL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a row of Annabelle Hydrangeas that become very heavy and droop over the entire width of the bed. I would like to know what I can use for support so that they will stand up and allow me to plant some annuals in front of them.

ANSWER:

According to our website on Hydrangea arborescens (Wild hydrangea), of which 'Annabelle" is probably a selection given a trade name, it is characteristic of this plant for the blooms to droop to the ground. We doubt that propping or staking them up would work very well. According to this USDA Plant Profile map of this species, it does not grow at all in Cook County in the northeast edge of Illinois, on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Whether that has any connection with the growth pattern you are observing, we couldn't say. We found an American Hydrangea Society online, but it doesn't seem to have a database for questions and answers.

Since the condition you describe appears to be normal, perhaps you could consider planting some low, shade-loving plants, like violas, in front of the hydrangeas. We found a number of members of the genus Viola native to Illinois and to the area where you garden. There were others, but we thought this was a representative example:

Viola cucullata (Blue marsh violet)

Viola lanceolata (Lanceleaf violet)

Viola missouriensis (Missouri violet)

Viola pedata (Birdfoot violet)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Viola cucullata


Viola lanceolata


Viola missouriensis


Viola pedata

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Correct cultural conditions for liatris
April 15, 2008 - I recently bought some gayfeather (liatris pycnostachya) and planted in my yard in a nice full sun spot. Gets sun for roughly 10 hours a day. However, it's also the single driest spot in my yard (jus...
view the full question and answer

Plants under Oak Trees in Austin TX
December 10, 2012 - Half of my small yard is in the shade of one big live oak and one kumquat. Nothing I plant grows in this shade. The other half of my yard gets sunlight. It is planted with Jasmine grass which grows w...
view the full question and answer

Shade Shrubs for a NJ Slope
June 27, 2016 - I live in central NJ and have a 15' shaded slope behind my home with a creek on the bottom. The slope erodes a little every year and I want to plant native plants on the slope to stop the erosion. Wha...
view the full question and answer

Low water use tree to shade pond in Burnet TX
May 10, 2011 - I'm in need of some shade at a 1/2 acre pond, but I don't want a tree to consume so much water that it will lower the water level. During droughts the little pond needs all the water it can get. Som...
view the full question and answer

Vines for shade in Central Texas
February 04, 2008 - We'd like to fill in our long expanse of yard fencing with climbing vines. We are limited by 40' live oaks that cut off the sun but surely something works in the shade and heat!
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.