Hydrangea arborescens is a native plant of eastern USA and was introduced to Britain around 1730. In the wild it has flat heads of mostly small dull whitish fertile florets (but now there are cultivars with pink or red fertile florets) and few of the more showy sterile florets, however plant breeding has proced cultivars with more of the showy sterile florets. A breakthrough was the cultivar ‘Grandiflora’ which has large round heads of sterile florets, followed by ‘Anabelle’ with even larger heads and more recently ‘Incrediball’ which has flower heads the size of footballs.
It flowers on new wood and so can be pruned back to a basal stool each winter. With the cultivars with large flower heads, the thin stems tend to struggle to hold the weight of the flowers and are beat given some support.