Hydrangea expert shares ‘best’ way to prepare hydrangeas for a ‘healthy’ winter

Many gardeners spend all summer doting over their hydrangeas. Admiring their flowers can almost become a full time job. The colors are bright and beautiful and can be the star of anyone’s garden. When the blossoms begin to dry and the leaves turn to their telltale autumn colour, it’s a sign that the season of beautiful hydrangea blooms is coming to an end. There are a few easy things that gardeners can do to prepare their hydrangea plants for the winter as well as keeping it safe throughout the bitter cold and winds.

Jill Drago, gardening expert said: “Depending on the species of hydrangea you may be growing, maintaining your hydrangeas over the winter is as easy as doing nothing at all. Maybe you want to up your game though and ensure a great start to the next spring.”

Keep watering

Even though the heat of the summer sun is cooling off significantly, hydrangeas will still be thirsty come winter, according to the expert.

Jill said: “Hydrangeas need about one inch of water per week. This is best achieved by rain and supplemental irrigation.

“Water at the base of the plant slowly until the ground freezes. It may feel counterproductive to be outside watering in your winter coat. But the wind will literally suck any remaining moisture out of your plant.

“You want to put your hydrangeas to bed nice and hydrated for a healthy winter. This way when the ground thaws in the springtime, they will not be struggling to find water.”

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Add compost

Jill warned: “Adding fertilizer to your hydrangeas too late in autumn can cause a late season growth spurt. This is dangerous because the growth will not have enough time to harden off before the winter chills set in.”

However, adding compost is another story. This will give gardens the much needed nutrients without the push that chemical fertilizers will give plants.

The expert advised: “Add an inch or two of compost to your gardens to strengthen your plants and improve the structure of your soil.

“You can use your homemade compost, or you can buy it from a local farm. There are excellent bagged choices available at your garden centers as well.”

Physically protect them with barriers

Gardeners who are concerned about the winds in their area being too cold for their hydrangea buds, or stripping their plants of moisture, Jill advised creating a physical barrier for plants.

Plant bags are available to purchase online, and probably at your local garden center. These bags are fabric and typically have a tie that can be fastened towards the base of the plant.

For gardeners who would rather use items they already have around their home, that is an option as well. The expert said: “Use chicken wire or something that will be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of snow throughout the winter.

“At this point, you can wrap the chicken wire with burlap, or you can stuff the chicken wire and the plant with straw or dried oak leaves. Whichever method you choose, make sure that nothing is making contact with the plant to avoid rubbing or breaking the branches or buds.”