Winterize Your Hydrangea: Tips for Protection and Care

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I’ve been hosting a radio show on KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh for ten years, and my co-host and I are most often asked the question “Why isn’t my hydrangea blooming?”

Upon closer inspection, we always find out that the caller is requesting a large-leaved hydrangea. While these old-fashioned hydrangeas are decorated with beautiful pink or blue flower balls, here in the northern United States they are known for their unreliability. In some years they bloom beautifully, while in other years not a single bud is visible.

If you’re a U.S. Department of Agriculture Zone 5 or 6 gardener who’s been through this on your own, here are some tips you can use right now to get the best flowers from your hydrangea.

1.with some exceptions, varieties of hydrangea macrophylla (for example, the two-flowered variety “umbrella” in the main photo in this article) form their flower buds on old wood.

This means that next year’s flowers will already form in the buds of these seemingly dead sticks. If you are pruning branches now – or in the spring – cut off future flowers. My radio host and I like to tell our interlocutors that the best technique for pruning large-leaved hydrangeas is not pruning at all.

2.The dormant buds contained in these brown sticks are susceptible to damage caused by cold temperatures and dry winds. Periodic after spring frosts are especially harmful. To protect the dormant buds of your hydrangea, surround the plant with a protective layer. Hammer four 1-by-1-inch hardwood pegs around each plant and use a stapler to attach a perimeter of burlap or black landscape fabric to the posts. Make sure that the fence is as high as the bush itself.

Do not cover the top; the weight of accumulated snow can tip everything onto the top of your plant. Leave this protective fortress in place until after spring, when the hydrangea buds begin to swell.

3. hydrangeas with large leaves, as a rule, grow best in a protected place. If possible, place non-flowering specimens in a corner protected from strong winds and located next to a heat-absorbing wall or path. It is best to move hydrangeas in early spring, before the appearance of foliage, or in autumn, a few months before the soil freezes.

4.To grow flowers more reliably, you should consider adding several different types of hydrangeas to your landscape. The tree-like hydrangea is a somewhat hardier species, which gives massive white bouquets resembling snowballs. “Annabel” is my favorite variety. H. quercifolia, a hydrangea with oak leaves, is another extremely reliable plant, blooming with a beautiful autumn color and white conical flowers.

However, several varieties of H. are currently on the market . macrophylls that have been bred to grow flowers on both old and new wood. I’ve had more success with a more recent intro called “BloomStruck”.

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