Hydrangeas are a beautiful, colorful addition to your garden. They grow well in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 through 8, but you do have to learn how to prep hydrangeas for winters months. Winterizing hydrangeas will protect the canes of your plant, which means new blooms and foliage will grow the following spring and summer! Don’t worry; getting your hydrangeas ready for winter doesn’t take too long. Winterizing hydrangeas is an important step for all owners.
While they grow in many climates, frost and snow aren’t their friends. The spring blooms will come from the previous year’s buds, so you want to learn how to protect these plants from damaging conditions. If you fail to do so, chances are your plant won’t bloom this spring. That would be sad!
6 Steps to Prepare Outside Hydrangeas for Winter
Hydrangeas require protection for areas that receive temperatures less than 5 to 10 degrees F. If your temperatures go below this level, winterization will ensure proper growth the following growing season.
Here are some steps for you to take!
- Fertilize: The first step is to apply a 10-10-10 plant fertilizer around the base of your plant. It is best done in late fall. Try not to skip this simple step. Adding a fertilizer will give the roots of the plant additional nutrients throughout the dry, winter months. Before you fertilize, make sure you clear debris, such as leaves and rocks, away from the base of your plant. Water thoroughly after fertilizing.
- Add Some Compost: Another step that isn’t necessary but a great idea is to add some compost to your beds during the fall. Your plants are still hungry throughout the winter and in the early spring weeks. Compost takes time to break down and will provide your awakening hydrangeas with a delicious meal in those spring months. You don’t have to add much; just a few inches will do.
- Prune: The following step is to prune any dead branches on your plant. Don’t get carried away and prune live branches! You want to leave all of your healthy branches and simply remove the dead ones. These branches should have no buds. If you remove buds, you’re removing your spring blooms! Check the bottom of your plant; that is where most of your dead branches will lay.
- Before you prune, make sure you understand the type of hydrangea you planted. If your plant blooms on old wood, you should prune in the summer or early fall. If your plant blooms on new wood, you can prune in late winter or early spring.
- No matter the type of hydrangea you have, removing diseased or dead branches is an essential step for a healthy plant.
- Create a Frame: Your next step is to build a frame around your plant with wood. Be careful not to allow the branches to rest on the stakes unless your area receives very little snowfall. Each stake should be at least four inches away from the plant. Make sure to drive the stakes into the ground at least three to four inches!
- Cover the Frame with Wire: Next, cover the frame with chicken wire, forming a complete cage. You want to cover all four sides. Also, make sure to use a staple gun and secure the wire to the stakes. Otherwise, a heavy snowfall or heavy winds could remove your cage!
- Fill the Frame: The next step is to fill in the cage, covered with chicken wire, with mulch. Pine needles and leaves are two good choices! This mulch creates an insulation for your hydrangea plant, designed to protect your plant from the winter conditions. You don’t have to select just one type of mulch. A combination of mulch, pine needles, leaves, and compost works just as well!
- Many gardeners think oak leaves are the best choice because they don’t easily settle to the ground. You can collect a large bag as they fall into your yard.
The frame filled with mulch will protect your hydrangea throughout the winter weather. As spring arrives, you should remove all of the mulch and remove the frame. Store it for the following winter! You want to make sure to remove all of the mulch before the new growth begins.
How to Prepare Potted Hydrangeas for Winter
Some people grow hydrangeas in pots on their patios. Luckily, preparing these hydrangeas require a lot less work! The best step is to plan to bring the potted hydrangeas inside just before the first frost. You want to make sure you select a location where it will receive a decent amount of sunlight throughout the winter months. There is a chance your hydrangea plant is too big to move inside. These bushy plants can grow quite large! If that is that case, you have to protect the plant by covering the entire pot and plant. Yes, you must cover the pot as well as the plant. Many gardeners use foam insulation and wrap it around their plant!
Proper Care of Winterized Hydrangeas
There is a chance you will receive very little snow throughout the winter. Those things are not predictable! Your plant will lose their leaves; that is normal. Hydrangeas need to stay hydrated throughout the winter if you don’t have a snow cover. Hydration is necessary even throughout dormancy for the health of their roots. Snow provides insulation and hydration. So, if you don’t receive much snow, be sure to water your hydrangea throughout the winter months.
Hydrangeas are a beautiful plant for your garden beds. Growing with large clusters of flowers, your garden will pop with color for years to come. However, your plant will not survive unless you know how to prep hydrangeas for winter months. The steps for preparation are easy and only takes you less than an hour, all together. Make sure you have the supplies to build a cage. Remember to add fertilizer and prune (when necessary).
Once protected, your hydrangea is ready for whatever winter brings.
I hope it has helped you as much as it has me to properly prep my hydrangeas to survive the winter months.
Enjoy your week. See you soon!