Hydrangea Winter Care – Part 1

By: Jennifer LaMontagne – Horticulturist – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI

With the air turning chilly and the snow beginning to fall, it’s time to tuck your garden in for a long winter’s nap. As you are checking off some of the winterizing tasks I mentioned in last week’s article, perhaps this question crossed your mind: “How do I prepare my hydrangeas for the winter season?” With the unpredictable snowfall levels, temperatures, and the freeze-thaw cycles that commonly occur in our region, some of the following tips may help you determine the best course of action for helping your hydrangeas weather the winter. 

Even though most hydrangeas are hardy plants, there are a few factors that determine whether or not you need to provide extra winter protection. One of those factors is the hydrangea variety, so be sure to jot this information down in your gardening journal or keep the tag for reference. Other factors include the hydrangea’s location and its size.  

In general, hydrangeas that bloom on ‘old wood’ are the ones that need the most protection to make it through the winter months unscathed. Since the flower buds of the Mountain, Oakleaf, and Climbing hydrangea varieties have been forming since late summer, you’ll want to focus on protecting the buds through the winter. Definitely provide winter protection for the Bigleaf (mophead or lacecap) hydrangeas because they need it most. This is not the time for pruning ‘old wood’ varieties, although you may wish to remove dead canes.  

Smooth and Panicle hydrangeas bloom on ‘new wood’. They are some of the hardiest varieties and often don’t need winter protection. However, if you have these or other hydrangeas placed in an area of your yard that receives more exposure to winter elements, they will appreciate some added protection. In addition to the variety of hydrangea and its location in your yard, the size of the hydrangea needs to be considered. Smaller, less established hydrangeas may need to have more winter protection. Late winter or early spring is the time to prune ‘new wood’ varieties.

Stay tuned for next week’s article for more tips on hydrangea winter protection! Bloch’s Farm is now closed for the season but feel free to call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Don’t forget to visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and our Facebook page!

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