Many people may ask the question, “Why grow the species of this plant when great cultivars like ‘Annabelle’ are on the market?” While ‘Annabelle’ may have superior looking flowers to the species, they are sterile flowers and their value is negligible to garden critters. This species possesses mostly fertile, but less showy flowers that are a key nectar source for native insects and butterflies. While the flowers are not as incredibly showy as ‘Annabelle’, they still are showy enough in early summer as they emerge to form 3-4″ diameter balls of small white bloom surrounded by the occasional larger sterile flower against the background of big, heavy, deep green foliage. Smooth Hydrangea is easy to grow, thrives in partial shade, is perfect for grouping together to form a mass planting along a dappled sun woodline, and provides essential cover to many backyard birds. Don’t be afraid to hack this plant back hard in the fall as it will rejuvenate itself bigger and better the following spring.