Poor Hydrangea, what should I do?

sceap(5)May 17, 2013

I have had a Hydrangea for long enough that i don't remember where it came from, but I do remember we had a few years of great blooms. The past few years, we got very little. Now it's Spring, most of the old growth looks dead from the cold winter. Though there are some leaves growing there, most of the green is coming up from the ground, and the old growth looks like a sad skeleton. So, am I right in assuming the cold is killing my buds, and is there anything I can do to prevent it next time?

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Yep, that looks like winter dieback. Not at all uncommon in your zone - in fact, winter protection for bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) is pretty much a standard recommendation for climates lower than a zone 7.

Try searching the archives of this forum for methods - there have been numerous discussions on this subject. Or just Google "hydrangea winter protection".

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 1:24PM
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Springwood_Gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

Wait about 2 more weeks and then trim out the brown stems back to where there is new growth from them. There doesn't really need to be a uniform pruned shape, so it's fine to leave the canes that *do* have leaves coming from them all the way up.

It's possible you have an Endless Summer, David Ramsey or the like, where you can get blooms on new growth. In this case, you'd probably already see florets atop those new beefy canes in the center.

In December, try throwing an open 55-gallon trash bag over the plant. Cut a slit facing the porch to vent, and weigh the bag down with bricks or rocks so it doesn't make a lot of noise or blow away.That should keep it slightly warmer and keep moisture in. A lot of canes can dry out, causing their death, even if the buds themselves aren't killed.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 3:16PM
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Thanks to both of you for your speedy replies and suggestions! I'm not sure what the cultivar is, but I don't think it's the Endless Summer type, since I had basically the same problem last year and got very little bloomage. I will definitely try a plastic cover this winter. One problem with NH is we sometimes get freak hard frosts in early autumn. It probably got zapped early on and only got worse from there. I'm glad these plants are hard to kill permanently.

I'm new to these forums and I got great advice in only a few hours! Many thanks.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 4:04PM
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try ES but even that should be protected to give you early and more flowers

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 12:24PM
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mary4b(4b WI)

I am near your zone...all of my hydrangeas look like that after the winter...annabelles and endless summer.

If my Annabelles look like that, I just trim all of those tall ones (with or without leaves) down to the same area of the leafed out ones near the bottom. They grow up just fine.

Also, I have neglected to trim them and they still grew up and filled out just fine.

On the other hand...with Endless Summer, I believe you may be cutting off potential flowers if you would trim off the leafed out stalks...so for those, I just trim up anything that's obviously dead at this point....it looks funny for a bit, but eventually it all leafs out as the new growth catches up with the old.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 11:06AM
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