What did I do to my hydrangeas??

nikki717(7)May 13, 2014

Bought the house in March of last year (2013) and it had a huge beautiful hydrangea-- or perhaps 2 right next to each other-- next to the house. The blooms were blue and purple and fairly large and round. I did noice that there were a whole lot of dead branches inside and so once the blooms were dying, I went out and pruned it.

I am a newbie and am sure I did something very wrong bc now every single branch appears to be dead. There are tons of green leaves at the base still so it's obviously not completely dead. But what happened? I removed all the dead branches-- which were like half the shrub it seemed-- and also trimmed most of the other ones down some, bc it was really just a huge shrub overall, and the previous owners didn't do a lick of gardening so I figured it was time. I made sure I left little buds on the healthy ones though and it looked great when I was done, not that that means anything obviously bc it's very sad-looking now.

Could it be a fluke bc of how horribly cold this past winter was? Or did I do something really horrible to it? And finally, is there anything I can do now? Those dry sticks everywhere are killing me.

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nikki717(7)

sad. so sad.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 9:02AM
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hcmcdole(z7)

Winter had some severe cold days this winter so most of what is happening around the country to hydrangeas is winter kill. You did nothing wrong...

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:24PM
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nikki717(7)

Oh Well that's good to know at least. Thank you for responding hm! Any advice now, or do I just let it take it's course? I'd love to chop down those horrible sticks. If it's okay.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:44PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

It's OK.

I can't see any growth buds on last years stems anywhere in your photos - you can remove anything that doesn't show signs of leafing out.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 1:58PM
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Springwood_Gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

Polar Vortex got your plants this past winter. Many people got lows far below zero who never did before. I have 50+ H. macrophyllas and all old branches were killed to within 1-3" of the ground. (The lowest low was -18 with a wind chill of -40.) At this point I know all my old branches are dead, so now I've been slowly making my way around the beds cutting them off at the base.

Pruning is fine, and recommended to a size of 2-3' before winter hits. But you might also want to round up a few trash cans or bags full of leaves and dump 2' of leaves on the plants to act as mulch you fear subsequent winters will be as bad. Even the slightest bit of extra mulch can preserve buds at the base, and of course the roots themselves. You'd want to remove the leaves in mid-April but might want to keep old blankets handy to use for a night or two, if any frost or freeze warnings are issued - so new growth isn't freeze damaged.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 8:16PM
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hokierustywilliamsbu

Winter kill-join the club this year. They will be back!!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:31PM
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nini804

Damn polar vortex!! Mine, here in NC, look better than the OP's, but I do have some of those dreadful sticks. It seems, though, that leaves are SLOWLY "climbing" out of the sides of the sticks...I can't decide to cut them or wait. Last year at this time, all 7 of mine were full, lush, green and covered in buds/beginning to bloom. There are some preemie-looking buds,,,but nothing like previous years. :( Waaah!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 3:45PM
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shadeyplace(7)

I have had to cut all of mine back almost to the ground..except for the lacecaps. I am assuming no blooms this summer or very few!
I have dienanthe which is a relative but not the same!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 8:21AM
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DDhydrangea

Fall is here, and there are rumors of more polar vortex nonsense. I really missed my endless summer show this year, just tragic. They bloomed a little on new wood but nothing like the first show in May.

How can I protect them this winter? So I can enjoy beautiful blooms in May 2015.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2014 at 5:40PM
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gardengal48

DD, check out the link I posted in the "cutting back hydrangeas?" thread. Or you can search online.

We used to have a member that posted a great thread years ago on overwintering macs that I dug up. Wish he was still around

Here is a link that might be useful: hayseedman's overwintering thread

    Bookmark   October 2, 2014 at 6:00PM
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