For those growing beautiful flowers, it’s time to put your garden to rest, because winter is coming! During the warm season, hydrangeas reward us with beautiful and abundant blooms, but in the cold season is pay-back time: we have to reward them with a goodnight kiss and special care to protect them from winter frost.
Steps To Prepare Hydrangeas For Winter:
Before preparing hydrangeas for winter you have to make sure that the plant has grown next year’s buds. Usually, this happens in November!
- Prune away the dead branches. It’s important to cut away only the dead branches and leave the healthy ones. In case you cut the healthy branches the plant won’t bloom again in the spring. Tip: Most of the dead branches can be found at the base of the plant.
- Build a frame around your hydrangea plant with stakes of wood. If you live in an area that doesn’t have much snow, the stakes can rest within plant’s branches.
- Wrap wire mesh around the frame that you built, enough to surround the entire plant to form a cage.
- Fill the cage with mulch, pine needles or leaves. The insulation should be at least 6 inches in depth, so it will adequately protect the plant from winter conditions. Some gardeners, as my neighbor, use oak leaves for insulating the plant throughout the winter because they don’t settle as quickly as other plants. If you have an oak tree, make sure to store the leaves and use them for your hydrangea plant insulation.
The Next Move Is To Protect These Blooming Plants From Frost:
- Water the plants in advance to be sure that the roots, stems and leaves are well-hydrated. Frost can pull moisture from the leaves and stems forming ice crystals. However, this type of frost is less severe if the plant is hydrated before the frost.
- Spread a thick layer of mulch, at least 4 inches thick, around the entire root zone of the hydrangea to insulate the roots; while bare soil absorbs heat faster, it also allows heat to escape faster. For best results, leave the soil bare during the day to absorb heat from the sun and cover the ground in the evening.
- Use some wooden stakes (about 16-17 inches) and pound them into the ground using a rubber mallet. Stick the stakes 12 inches into the ground and leave 6 inches outside.
- Now, use a large cloth to drape it over the hydrangeas. The strakes will help you suspend it. You can use burlap, old blankets or frost cloth; frost cloth and thicker fabric provide better insulation to keep the heat trapped around the plant. The cloth should be large enough to completely cover the sides.
- Place rocks or bricks on the bottom of the cloth to hold it in place.
- Remove the cover during the day – if the temperature reaches 50 degrees F – and cover it again during the night.