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 the fact that it blooms on new wood. But Annabelle's flowers come only in white; the public has been craving an Annabelle in pink, but with the same traits, otherwise. Enter Invincibelle Spirit, stepping into the limelight as the original "pink Annabelle" bush. However, their flower heads do not always attain the size of Annabelle's.
- Botanical Name: Hydrangea arborescens NCHA1 Invincibelle Spirit
- Common Name: Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea
- Plant Type: Broadleaf, deciduous bush used as a flowering shrub in landscaping
- 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 (species): North America
How to Grow Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea
Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea bushes are easy plants to grow if you simply locate them in the right spot, to begin with. 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 does fade the flower color eventually.
The beauty of Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea bushes and other hydrangeas in the smooth leaf group is that they bloom on new wood (new growth). This means two things:
- No more worrying, "Did I prune too late last year, thereby losing flower buds?"
- Flower buds won't be killed by winter's cold.
Growers generally prune Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea bushes (if, indeed, any pruning is called for at all) sometime between the first hard frost of fall and early spring. If you so desire, pruning cuts can be made right down to the ground; new shoots will be generated.
Morning sun is preferred over afternoon sun, generally, given a choice between the two.
As with most members of the Hydrangea genus, the soil should not be allowed to dry out completely at any time during the summer.
A humusy soil is ideal. Working organic matter into the ground will both improve drainage and provide nutrients.
Add compost to the soil every year.
Soil pH and Flower Color
Flower color is a reliable pink. With Bigleaf hydrangeas, you can change flower color by adjusting soil pH. But the color does not change according to soil pH in the case of Invincibelle Spirit hydrangeas.
Origin of the Name
"Invincibelle Spirit" was chosen as the name to capitalize, presumably, on the name recognition enjoyed by Annabelle hydrangeas. Unfortunately, the name is destined to be misspelled in many sources as "Invincible Spirit." Luckily, that "Invincible" tag has some merit to it, as this shrub is truly a no-fuss plant that will flower year after year with minimal help from you.
Comparison With Other Hydrangeas
The flower buds of Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea bushes are a deep pink. As they open, the sun fades the tops of the flowers (sepals) to a light pink, while the undersides remain the darker color. The effect, in terms of the overall flower heads, is something of a speckled appearance. As the flower heads age, however, this effect is largely lost, and the flower heads are better described as simply pale pink (although some growers report a richer pink). This is a reblooming variety, and the plant may continue flowering throughout the summer and into early fall (until the first frost).
Some may be disappointed in these plants and prefer Incrediball hydrangea, which was introduced to the market at about the same time. True, Incrediball is just another white-flowered type. But its flower head is enormous, and the sepals age to a more pleasing color than those on the "pink Annabelle wannabe."
A new-and-improved version has hit the market, though, called "Invincibelle Spirit II." This shrub is supposed to have sturdier stems (that won't flop over), larger blooms, and a more consistent reblooming habit.
Uses in Landscaping
Some suggested landscape uses for Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea bushes are: