How to Grow 'Invincibelle Spirit' Hydrangea

This Cultivar Is Much Like a Pink Annabelle Bush

'Invincibelle spirit' hydrangea shrub with small pink flower head clusters on tall thin stems in sunlight

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

'Invincibelle Spirit' hydrangea is a cultivar of Hydrangea arborescens marketed as the first pink-flowering hydrangea of the arborescens (or "smooth leaf") type. Previously, the top of the line in the arborescens group was 'Annabelle.' Annabelle is valued for its hardiness, the size of its flowers, and it blooms on new wood. But Annabelle's flowers only come in white, so Invincibelle Spirits are essentially Annabelles in pink. A key difference is their flower heads do not always get as big as the Annabelles.

"Invincibelle Spirit" is a play on the name recognition enjoyed by Annabelle hydrangeas. It is an invincible no-fuss shrub that flowers year after year with minimal needs. The Invincibelle Spirit flower buds are deep pink. As they open, the sun fades the tops of the flowers to light pink, while the undersides remain the darker color, giving the overall flower heads a speckled appearance. As the flower heads age, they may become pale or richer pink. This reblooming variety continues flowering throughout the summer until the first frost. They are often used as specimen plants, a border hedge, foundation beds, southern woodland gardens, or butterfly attractants.

Botanical Name Hydrangea arborescens NCHA1 Invincibelle Spirit
Common Name Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea
Plant Type Broadleaf, deciduous, flowering shrub
Mature Size Up to 4 feet tall and across; upright growth habit
Sun Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type Fertile, loamy, well-drained, and kept evenly moist
Soil pH Neutral to mildly acidic or mildly alkaline
Bloom Time Late June
Flower Color Pink
Hardiness Zones 3 to 9
Native Area North America
Toxicity Toxic to humans, dogs, cats, and horses

Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea Care

Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea bushes are easy plants to grow if you put them in the right spot from the beginning. The further south you go in their range, the less sun you should give them, but you can grow them in full sun in the northern parts of their range. The bloom will initially have the best flower color if grown in full sun in the North, but sunlight eventually fades the flower color.

The beauty of Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea bushes and other hydrangeas in the smooth leaf group is that they bloom on new wood (new growth). You don't have to worry about your pruning in the fall affecting your bud production or if the winter's temperatures will kill flower buds.

Invincibelle spirit hydrangea shrubs with pink and flower head clusters on tall thin stems and large leaves

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Invincibelle spirit hydrangea shrub with small pink flower heads clustered on thin stems in sunlight

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Invincibelle spirit hydrangea shrub with small pink flowers clustered on thin stems closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Light

Morning sun is preferred over afternoon sun if given a choice between the two.

Water

As with most members of the Hydrangea genus, the soil should not be allowed to dry out completely at any time during the summer.

Soil

A humus-rich soil is ideal. Working organic matter into the ground will both improve drainage and provide nutrients. With bigleaf hydrangeas, you can change flower color by adjusting soil pH. But in the case of Invincibelle Spirit hydrangeas, the soil pH will not change Invincibelle Spirit hydrangeas; they are reliably pink.

Temperature and Humidity

It's hardy and remains a reliable bloomer after the harshest winters in zone 3, and it is also heat tolerant. It blooms from early summer to the first frost.

Fertilizer

Add compost to the soil every year or a rose fertilizer once in the spring after the ground has thawed.

Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea Varieties

A newer variety replaced the original Invincibelle Spirit, called "Invincibelle Spirit II." This shrub improved on the development of sturdier stems that won't flop over, larger blooms, and a more consistent reblooming habit.

Some still may be disappointed in these plants and prefer 'Incrediball' hydrangea, developed around the same time as Invincibelle Spirits. Incrediballs are just another white-flowered type, but its flower head is enormous, and its sepals age to a more pleasing color than the Invincibelle Spirit.

Pruning


Most people prune Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea bushes (if at all) sometime between the first hard frost of fall and early spring. The beauty of this plant is that you can make pruning cuts right down to the ground, and new shoots will still grow. Cut the whole plant back by about one-third of its total height. Deadheading or removing the spent flowers is not necessary for this plant to continue to bloom. These plants make an excellent cut flower and won't be harmed by cutting.

Propagating Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea

As a trademarked cultivar, propagating Invincibelle Spirit hydrangeas for sale is prohibited. However, most hydrangeas are easy to propagate from cuttings. You can use several methods to propagate a hydrangea, including taking a cutting from just above a leaf node, adding some rooting hormone, and planting the stem. You can also water propagate by placing a cutting in a clear glass of water until roots develop and transplant that cutting into a container with moist soil.

Potting and Repotting Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea

Hydrangeas are shrubs that can grow very big and need larger containers to handle the heft and weight of the branches. If using a planter, consider a giant container at least 5 feet in diameter. The plant is sold in 1-quart containers.

Overwintering

Smooth hydrangeas like Invincibelle Spirit hydrangeas require little for winterizing. Give the plant a hard annual pruning in early spring. Cut back all the stems to about 3 to 6 inches from the base. Smooth hydrangeas can handle heavy winter snow loads.