Do I cage them now or wait a bit more?

melaroma(6)October 15, 2010

I have the three Hydrangeas that I need to cage for the winter, two ES and one BB. I know that it isn't necessary but they flower better at my doing so. My question is when do I cage them? Temperatures are dropping to the mid 30's at night and we are having light frosts. I can cage two of them today but really would like to hold off on the one that bloomed it's heart out this year and is now covered in a rich beautiful color that I would like to enjoy for a while longer.

I would also like to cut some of the blooms off and bring them in for the winter but am not sure how low to cut it at this point in time or how that will affect the blooms for next year.

Can someone explain to me in detail the bloom process? When do the blooms form, when's the latest you can cut them and so forth? Thanks!

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I don't think it would hurt to install the cage to get a head-start on chores, but not to burry in leaf/pine needle mulch yet. You are in a warmer zone. Here in z5 Thanksgiving time is our rule of thumb. I will install my cages loosely just to get them to size secure lightly w/ pins for ease to pull up. I usually bundle their canes before final burlap wrap!

I'm enjoying this gorgeous cooler & sunny days ... after such a trying summer many of my Hs are throwing some last efforts at pleasing ... BB & Limelight particularly!

I hope you are enjoying great Fall days as well!!! ~â¬;)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 12:38PM
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Thanks Ditas! I can definitely wait until Thanksgiving. I hate the look of the cages plus I need to wait for my trees to give up their leaves. Ugh! My least favorite fall chore... Raking!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 5:40PM
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I'm glad someone asked this! I was worried about my Cityline Venices, because we're supposed to get our first frost tonight. I was planning on pulling some leaves over them, and then brushing the leaves off tomorrow, but you all think they'll be fine through these light frosts? We're still getting 65-70 temps during the day.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2010 at 6:54PM
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I would maybe cover it with a sheet or lite blanket whenever there is at hard frost until you are ready to cage them. I am going to cage two of mine but wait to fill it up with leaves and will probably throw a lite blanket at night. I have a pile of leaves accumulating in the back that I will be using on my hydrangeas. My one ES is just too beautiful to cage yet so I will just throw a blanket on with out the cage for a couple more weeks.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2010 at 7:00PM
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I agree w/ melaroma - I hate the looks of caged beauties ... even if some blooms are now panty-hose colors a few of my Serratas are giving beautiful Fall colors. I'll wait a while to cage mine.

Just keep close touch w/ weather reports!!! Best wishes!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2010 at 2:45PM
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I moved the ES that had no blooms on it to a different spot next to my door and well... it's looks so nice there that I don't want to cage it either! LOL. The foliage is still so green and lush... I planted a Limelight in it's old place but that along with my Annabell, thankfully, needs no protection. I keep telling myself "No more hydrangeas"! That was four hydrangeas ago... :P

    Bookmark   October 22, 2010 at 6:38PM
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How do you make a cage? Cut chicken wire to size? Join ends with plastic ties? Secure to ground with landscape pins? Does that sound OK? Is wrapping with burlap necessary? I was going to fill the cage with leaves and let it go at that. Is there more to it?

I have new this year - unknown lacecaps, Blue Billows, and Tokyo Delights. I assume they all need protection?

My endless summers have never been caged and do alright.



    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 12:18PM
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I just buy enough chicken wire to surround the plant leaving about four inches in between the wire and the actual perimeter of the plant so that leaves can settle in and do their job. You will also need it to be a couple of inches higher than the plant for the same reason. You do not need to use burlap on it.

I use wood stakes from Lowes that I bought for $3 and that came in a pack of twelve. I stacked four to five around the hydrangea being careful not to hurt the roots then wrapped the chicken wire around and secured with pieces of bendable wire. Then I filled with leaves. You need to watch for the wind blowing off the top leaves every few weeks and also the leaves tend to settle so have some extras put away for the occasion

You could try the landscape pins but the wood stakes will offer a sturdier skeleton as it sticks out for the most part.

I am not sure if the hydrangeas you listed need protection or not. Maybe someone else might be able to answer

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 2:05AM
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Thanks a lot. I read through several long threads on this topic last night.

We are leaving 11/1 for the winter. Is there a better method? since I won't be here to top off the leaves. Burlap around the chicken wire? Tie up the hydrangeas or not? Loose leaves?

2. Tie up the hydrangeas? Surround with bags of leaves?

3. Some other method that is relatively simple.



    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 9:07AM
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Oh lucky you! I hate being stuck here for the winter.

In your case maybe you should add burlap to the mix and jam pack the leaves in that way when the leaves settle the burlap will protect the top. Also I would mulch the base really well with straw before you cage it. I wouldn't leave them caged up past the beginning of May or they will be starved of sun and really sensitive to the touch but will still recover.

In my opinion this is the easiest way. pound in the stakes, wrap wire, fill it up and wrap burlap and your good to go!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 11:06AM
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Should I tie the hydrangeas into a column first? and then pack with leaves? Or just leave them as they are? and pack with leaves.

Burlap is on the exterior of the whole thing?

I really miss being up here in Nov and April. Pretty important months for working outside.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 12:22PM
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I never tie mine up I just cage around the plant as it is and let the leaves settle around it.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 12:30PM
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Hi ML - Boy did you guys get hammered by the super storm? We got spared but not by the gusty winds!

I don't have either of your Hs mentioned above ... I loosely bundle my *Divas* & wrap them w/ burlap before encaging & pouring collected dry leaves to the top & because my back gets assaulted by wicked Winter winds I over-wrap the cages w/ landscaping fabric as wind-breakers - have 9 to do this ritual to.

Lowes or Hd has rolls of plasti-coated wire-garden-fencing that I like using - stands well w/o stakes, just landscaping-pin them down - easy & neater to roll back up for storage. The reason I bundle them, is to control the size of the cages - I usually cut fences a bit larger in circumference to allow for growth.

Melaroma - I protected ES for a couple of years they are so large now that it won't worry me leaving them to fend for themselves ... they are quite well established ... I just thickly mulch w/ coll'd dry leaves between canes ... did ok this season.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 1:50PM
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I was not aware of the storm so I was utterly surprised to wake up to a coat of snow surrounding me. I was not happy about it! We only got one inch and it has melted already so I can't complain.

My babies are under an overhang facing North and are quite protected so I can get away with just caging and leaves. I do wonder though how do your ES fare bloom wise now that you don't cage them? How old are they? I have a two year old and a year and a half one. The two year old one seems pretty established and both seem happy. I have wanted to just leave them and see what happens but I'm afraid they won't bloom as nicely and that would be risking a whole year of enjoyment.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 2:26PM
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Very sorry for this late response ... got busy dealing w/ my Duchess Ginkgo's fruits & when Ma Nature snapped her fingers ... the amazing rain of barely golden leaves-just under her canopy happened in 2hrs' time ... never wear out on me!!!

Back to ESs - I set them in in 2006 I covered perhaps for 2yrs ... on the 3rd just mulched w/ dry leaves - the huge dried blossoms seemed to do the job of protecting further. I don't worry much now about blooms I have 32 now that satisfies my needs ... I'm getting ahead in age for the intricate tasks of protecting & the many butterfly-beds to clean up!!! LOL

Are yours all warm & cosy in bed now?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 7:05AM
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I am up in southern Canada just an hour north of Toronto Ontario

Last year I put broken bushel baskets, which I had around over the plants and had them stuffed with leaves

Not all my hydrangeas but on some.
I am new to growing these beauties that it is to cold where I am

But fortunately we get a lot of snow and that I believe this protects them some.

The plants though that I did not cover, other than with some leaves thrown over them bloomed earlier than the plants I had protected.
This year I have only thrown leaves over the entire beds. Just let them fall and then watered in a bit so they do not blow around

Pinkie winkie and limelight that where not covered really bloomed so nice and early and still have bloom on them now but of course it is fall colored now

I am in Florida for almost six months and will not be home to uncover them That I believe makes a difference as well
So will see what happens this year

They sure are gorgeous plants and look good from spring til late fall

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 10:22PM
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