Mt Cuba Center
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Hydrangea arborescens ‘Mary Nell’

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A somewhat obscure cultivar, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Mary Nell’ should be considered for wider cultivation and commercial availability. Named by Dr. Joseph McDaniel, who also introduced Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’, H. arborescens ‘Mary Nell’ is a lacecap hydrangea that stands out, with a double ring of sterile flowers around the rim of the inflorescence. Often compared to Hydrangea arborescens ‘Haas’ Halo’ due to the similar overall size and vigor of both cultivars, H. arborescens ‘Mary Nell’ produced smaller flower heads with more sterile flowers at the margin. H. arborescens ‘Mary Nell’ performed best in shade, retaining attractive foliage and sterile flowers for nearly the entire growing season. When cut back, H. arborescens ‘Mary Nell’ responded with extreme vigor, so much so that the new, fast-growing stems occasionally proved to be too weak to support the magnified flower heads.


  • Rating
    4.2 (Top Performer) 
  • Common Name
    Mary Nell wild hydrangea  
  • Bloom Period
    mid June – early July  
  • Peak Bloom
    mid June  
  • Size
    6.5' x 9' 
  • Flower Type
  • Inflorescence Diameter
  • Pollinator Score