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How to Care for Hydrangeas in the Winter Months

by Busines Newswire
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Hydrangeas are often used in landscaping because of its attractive blossoms, which come in a variety of hues like pink, purple, blue, and white. As the weather gets colder and the winter winds kick up, our gardens undergo an incredible change. But for lovers of hydrangeas, it also means changing how we treat these vivid flowers. Your hydrangeas need a little extra care when the weather gets cold and the ground is coated in ice to make sure they come out of their winter hibernation in great shape. This essay will discuss how to maintain hydrangeas during the winter months to ensure a stunning resurgence in May.

Hydrangeas and Winter Stress

Before beginning winter maintenance, be sure you know how hydrangeas react to lower temperatures. Despite their hardiness, certain varieties of hydrangeas are more susceptible to the severe winter months than others. Bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla), for instance, are particularly susceptible to frost damage, which may cause harm to flower buds.

Know Your Hydrangea Variety:

Many types of hydrangeas, such as Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata), Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), and Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), are prized for their magnificent, profuse flowers. For specialized maintenance, it’s essential to determine your hydrangea type since each has unique preferences and characteristics.

  • Identify which kind of hydrangea is growing in your garden. Mophead, lacecap, panicle, and oakleaf hydrangeas are common kinds.
  • Because various hydrangeas tolerate low temperatures differently, it’s important to customize your care to meet their unique requirements.

Preparing for Winter:

When autumn begins to murmur goodbye, it’s time to get your hydrangeas ready for the chilly winter months ahead. To prepare your plants for the winter, take the following actions:

  • Pruning: Eliminate any weakened or dead stems; however, do not overprune since some hydrangeas bloom on old wood. For example, hydrangeas such as mophead and lacecap frequently bloom on stems from the prior year.


  • Mulching: Around the base of your hydrangeas, spread a thick layer of organic mulch. This serves as a barrier, shielding the roots from severe temperature swings.


  • Watering: Before winter arrives, hydrangeas enjoy a nice beverage. Make sure the soil is sufficiently damp but not soggy. Hydrangeas require a precise balance since they are sensitive to both drought and wet conditions.

Let’s delve a little deeper into the following practices.

1. Pruning – A Gentle Winter Trim

To encourage healthy growth in the spring, think about giving your hydrangeas a light pruning as winter approaches. Here’s a detailed how-to:

Remove Dead or Diseased Wood:

First, determine whether wood is sick or dead and cut it out. In addition to making the plant seem better overall, this stops diseases from spreading.

Trimming Hydrangea Paniculata (Panicle):

The more tolerant panicle hydrangea blooms on fresh wood. For size and form management, you can prune them more severely. Slice back until you’re approximately 12 to 18 inches above the floor.

Trimming Hydrangea Arborescens (Smooth):

You can prune smooth or Snow Hill Hydrangea more firmly. To promote vigorous growth, trim the stems back to a height of 6 to 12 inches from the ground.

Trimming Hydrangea Macrophylla (Bigleaf):

Only weak or dead stems should be removed from Bigleaf hydrangeas, as they blossom on old wood. Removing healthy stems too soon might result in fewer flowers the next season.

Trimming Hydrangea Quercifolia (Oakleaf):

Minimal pruning is beneficial for oakleaf hydrangeas. For improved air circulation, trim off dead wood and separate crowded branches.

When to Prune:

Prior to the onset of new growth, try to trim your hydrangeas in late winter or early spring. By doing this, you may be confident that you’re not severing possible blossoms.

2. Winter Mulching

Mulching your hydrangeas is similar to wrapping them in a warm blanket for the winter. It helps keep moisture in and shields the roots from sharp temperature changes.

How to Mulch:

  • Mulch Placement: Extend the mulch to the drip line, covering the area where the hydrangea’s branches reach. This shields the root zone effectively.


  • Mulching Potted Hydrangeas: If you have hydrangeas in pots, you might want to further insulate the roots by covering the pots in burlap or bubble wrap.


  • Choose the Right Mulch: Choose organic mulch such as wood chips, crushed leaves, or straw. Apply it in a coating that is between two and four inches thick around the hydrangea’s base.


  • Avoid Mulch Piling: Avoid placing mulch at the base of the stems as this might lead to illnesses caused by dampness. Give the stems a tiny space around them.

3. Hydration Matters

Even in winter, hydrangeas need adequate hydration. Follow these tips to ensure they don’t go thirsty:

Avoid Overwatering:

Although staying hydrated is important, overwatering may be harmful. Make sure the soil is well drained to avoid soggy ground.

Morning Watering:

Water early in the day to minimize the chance of root rot on chilly nights by allowing extra moisture to escape throughout the day.

Watering Frequency:

During dry times, hydrangeas in pots or exposed to the wind may require periodic watering. When the top inch of soil seems dry, water it.

Protecting from Frost

Frost is a hydrangea’s biggest enemy, particularly when it comes to its fragile blossoms. Use these safety measures to protect your hydrangeas:

Avoid Salt Deicers:

Be mindful of runoff reaching your hydrangeas if you use deicers on your walks. Use alternatives like sand or calcium magnesium acetate instead of salt as it can harm plants.

Covering Blooms:

Cover your hydrangea blossoms in the evening with burlap or an old bedsheet if frost is predicted. When the temperature rises in the morning, take off the blankets.

Reviving Hydrangeas in Spring

Now is the time to be ready for your hydrangeas’ spectacular rebirth as winter draws to an end and the first signs of spring appear. To guarantee a smooth transition, do the following actions:

  • Pruning Tune-Up: Examine the health of your hydrangeas and trim any broken or dead branches. In addition to encouraging beautiful flowers, this supports a sound framework.


  • Remove Mulch: When the earth starts to thaw in the early spring, remove the mulch gradually. As a result, the earth may warm up and promote new development.


  • Fertilize Thoughtfully: In the spring, use a slow-release fertilizer that is designed to supply your plants the nutrients they need to thrive strongly. Steer clear of too much nitrogen since this might cause too much foliage at the price of blossoms.


In summary, maintaining winter hydrangeas requires three key components: forethought, patience, and protection. By becoming familiar with the unique needs of your specific hydrangea species and implementing these winter care suggestions, you can ensure a vivid and plentiful display of flowers when the warmer months draw near. Even though winter might be challenging, with the right maintenance, your hydrangeas will survive the cold and emerge looking gorgeous as ever.