Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangeas

Pink Annabelle Bushes

Closeup of flower head of Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea.
David Beaulieu

Taxonomy and Botany of Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangeas

Plant taxonomy classifies this bush as Hydrangea arborescens 'NCHA1' Invincibelle™ Spirit. 'NCHA1' is the cultivar name, while Invincibelle Spirit is the trademark 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."

Broadleaf, deciduous flowering bushes (shrubs), Invincibelle Spirit hydrangeas exhibit an upright growth habit and will reach a height of 3-4 feet tall, with a similar spread.

Plant Characteristics

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). My bushes began flowering in late June this year; a reblooming variety, they may continue flowering throughout the summer and into early fall (until the first frost).

Planting Zones for Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangeas

These bushes are listed for growing in planting zones 3-9.

Sun and Soil Requirements

Grow in full sun to partial shade and in a loamy, well-drained soil enriched with humus. Flower color is a reliable pink. With Bigleaf hydrangeas, you can change flower color by adjusting soil composition, but color does not change according to soil pH in the case of Invincibelle Spirit hydrangeas. Morning sun and afternoon shade is a useful guideline; however, those who live in warm climates may want to provide more shade, while inhabitants of the North are more likely to get away with planting them in full sun. In zone 5 garden, some plants hold up to almost full sun; but remember, sunlight does fade the flower color.

Outstanding Feature

At the time of this writing (2010), Invincibelle Spirit was being 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 has been highly valued for its hardiness, the size of its flowers, and the fact that it blooms on new wood (see below). But Annabelle's flowers come only in white; the public has been craving a pink Annabelle bush, but with the same traits, otherwise, valued in Annabelle. Invincibelle Spirit hydrangeas try to fit the bill, stepping into the limelight as the original "pink Annabelle" bush. However, in my own landscaping, at least, their flower heads fail to attain Annabelle size.

Some may be disappointed in these plants and prefer Incrediball 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."

Wildlife Attracted by Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangeas

Invincibelle Spirit hydrangeas are plants that attract butterflies.

Uses in Landscaping

Some suggested landscape uses for Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea bushes:

Also, because the flower heads consist mainly of sepals, they persist through autumn (although they fade to a tannish color), adding visual interest to the fall yard even after all their pink color is gone. During summer, I cut the flower heads off for use in dried arrangements as they fade, because I think they look dirty when juxtaposed to the fresh new pink flowers that emerge on other branches.

Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea Care: Pruning

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 2 things:

  1. No more worrying, "Did I prune too late last year, thereby losing flower buds?"
  2. 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.