The favorite of all flower lovers, the hydrangea is a sensitive shrub and notoriously only conditionally hardy. With the approaching end of the summer season, the question of proper care arises. What mistakes should you avoid when overwintering your hydrangeas? We clarify.
Caring for hydrangeas in the fall and what measures to take
Hydrangeas are only hardy to a certain extent. Because of this, many home gardeners make mistakes when they start growing hydrangeas and this costs them the plants. Often when it comes to garden hydrangeas, one has to think about winter protection for the plant. If exposed to wintry temperatures outdoors, the shrub may freeze to death and fail to flower the next season.
Hydrangeas are only partially hardy
Frost causes the stems to dry out and can affect the growth of young wood. To make sure you overwinter your hydrangeas properly, you should start preparing in late fall when temperatures start to drop.
Hydrangeas overwinter in the garden: What mistakes do inexperienced gardeners make?
#Mistake 1: Not mulching the hydrangeas
One of the best-known overwintering measures for garden hydrangeas is protecting the root system with a thick layer of mulch. Mulch protects the roots of hydrangea from both freezing and drying out. The mulch layer acts as a buffer and prevents possible soil erosion. You can use bark mulch, lawn clippings, straw, woodchips, pine litter, or leaves from other plants, including weeds.
Mulch the plants outdoors
Fertilize your plant before mulching the hydrangea and covering it with winter protection.
#Error 2: Not providing suitable winter protection
Another measure is to cover the garden hydrangea with winter protection. A wide range of materials is typically used. Many novice hydrangea fans make the mistake of not ensuring proper ventilation. Remember that the plant can breathe even during hibernation. A very suitable material for winter protection is therefore Lutrasil. Lutrasil fleece is very easy to find on the market and allows good ventilation and suitable frost protection.
Lutrasil is used in agriculture
Take into account that windy storms, rainfall and direct sun can stress and damage the covered garden hydrangea. Ideally, your plant should already be in a wind-protected spot in the garden. When your hydrangea is potted, place Styrofoam insulation board underneath the pot as an insulating layer.
A pole supports the hydrangea bush when there is too much snow
If the site is snowy, you should erect a stake to keep the branches from breaking due to the weight.
#Mistake 3: Not cutting back hydrangeas before wintering
Depending on the regional climate, the plants are usually covered in mid-September. Before wintering, remove the lower hydrangea leaves.
Cut back hydrangeas before overwintering
All bud sites should remain intact. This makes it possible to facilitate the lignification of the stems. As a result, the plant becomes more resistant to low temperatures and can successfully survive the winter.
You can clean out some withered flower clusters, but leave most of them
Overwinter hydrangeas in pots
If you are caring for potted hydrangeas (on the balcony or patio in many cases) consider moving them indoors when temperatures start to drop. Many hydrangea lovers use their garages or basements for this because it is shady there, well ventilated and the temperature is appropriate. Make sure that the temperatures do not fall below 3 degrees regardless of the location and remain relatively constant.
Hydrangeas do not tolerate temperatures below 3 degrees
You can keep the bucket warm by wrapping it with several layers of insulating bubble wrap and finally with a coconut mat.
Coconut mat brings warmth
Attention: Do not overwinter hydrangea in the apartment!
Overwintering the hydrangea in the conservatory or greenhouse is really optimal. However, many people have hydrangeas in pots on the terrace or balcony, or even grow hydrangeas or plate hydrangeas as houseplants.
Not all hydrangeas can be cultivated as houseplants
Since the air in the indoor habitable area is too dry, the hydrangea can be attacked by spider mites. The dry air can result in wilting and dehydration of the water-loving plant. Hydrangeas usually feel most comfortable at 8 degrees in winter, and placing them in the room is therefore not recommended. Adequate humidity should be maintained.
Caution: Water the hydrangeas even in winter!
If you overwinter the potted hydrangeas indoors, you should water them occasionally in winter. Many inexperienced hydrangea growers neglect this aspect of care or water the hydrangea too much. While the root system needs to stay hydrated, you shouldn’t water the ornamental perennial more than once a week.
Don’t forget winter watering for optimal flowering the following year