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

Screen and shade for pool in Michigan
July 18, 2010 - We recently moved to a new home that has a pool. There is no shade nor privacy. What types of trees, plants would you recommend for our small backyard?
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for Waynesville MO
April 09, 2013 - We moved to Waynesville, MO (gardening region 6) and when we bought our house there was a nice looking gardening area in front of the house. It is shaded moderately by a Redwood Tree and was "occupie...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for shady area with sandy soil
September 23, 2008 - We have very sandy soil, is there any type of grass that will grow well. Also, very shady.
view the full question and answer

Grasses for shady acreage in Paige, TX
February 10, 2009 - My family recently bought property in Paige, TX. We thinned out the dense vegetation leaving pines and some oak and juniper. The ground is now bare sand throughout much of the property, except for th...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a condo garden in Decatur GA
February 12, 2009 - I recently moved into a condo in Decatur (just outside Atlanta). I am now working on the back yard - just a patio and dirt right now. It is a small space and is shaded much of the day but does get s...
view the full question and answer

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