Winter protection in zone 6?

cbusgirl(6)August 23, 2012

This summer I planted 4 "Glowing Embers" macrophylla hydrangeas. They are supposed to be hardy to zone 6, which is the zone that I live in (6a, central Ohio). Does that mean I don't need to do anything over the winter to protect the flower buds? Or, is it advisable to do some kind of protection anyway? Thank you!

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Yes, cbusgirl, that is basically what hardy is supposed to mean. The most protection I would apply is to maintain about 3-4" of organic mulch year around (apply it up to the drip line) and allow the plants to go dormant at the proper time by not applying any fertilizers after July-ish.

If you find that the Fall and Winter are dry, make sure that they still get water (about 1 gallon for each newly planted small shrub is fine). Once dormant, you can water them less, once a week or once every two weeks provided the ground has not frozen.

The plants probably came with those round fertilizer pellets so apply no more fertilizers; one application in June 2013 should be fine with sprinkles of coffee grounds or liquid seaweed or liquid fish throughout the growing season (but again, stop in July). You can fertilize once in June every year using 1/2 cup to 1 cup of compost, composted manure, cottonseed meal or a general-purpose slow-release fertilize according to the product's label.


Here is a link that might be useful: Hydrangea Information

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 10:50PM
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Wow, thank you Luis, that was very, very helpful! I really appreciate it.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 6:43AM
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I'm going to offer a differing opinion :-) That hardiness zone indicator is for root hardiness, not bud hardiness. Generally, most mophead/macrophylla type hydrangeas are considered root hardy to zone 5b(Z6) - there are a few tougher exceptions like Endless Summer. That means the plant will survive winter cold without protection but nascent flower buds could very well be damaged. Typically it is early fall or late winter/spring frosts that do the damage. And that can even happen sometimes in my zone 8!

The usual recommendation is to provide cold damage protection for the flower buds in zone 6 and below for any hydrangea that blooms only on old wood.

If you reveiew the archives of this forum, you will find this topic discussed at length, as well as descriptions of a bunch of good protection methods.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 4:29PM
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I have a glowing embers in NE Ohio and last summer I had maybe 2 or 3 blooms in late summer after no protection over the previous summer. This last winter I made a box with burlap around the plant, open on top, and filled with straw. It's been full of blooms since spring.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 3:14AM
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Thank you for the additional info, gardengal48 and Ibanez540r. I was hoping to not have to do the burlap thing but maybe it is better to be on the safe side. Thanks all!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 12:02PM
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