Knowing how to care for potted hydrangeas in winter will help you to improve the lifespan of your potted plants. Hydrangeas grown in the ground are usually fine left to defend for themselves,
Properly caring for your potted hydrangea over winter will determine how successful the blooms are in the following summer, and how many you get. The key to this is to protect your plants against the first frost of winter.
Protecting against frost
The reason you need to be so cognizant of frost and cold damage is that most varieties of hydrangeas begin to cultivate new bloom growth during the spring/summer/fall. The plants start to allocate energy toward the development of new buds and new blooms for the following summer. If you fail to protect against winter, it could damage these new buds before they have a chance to bloom. So, what can you do protect your hydrangea in winter?
Cutting back your plants
The first step in proper winter care is to cut back any old wood down to the base. Concurrently, remove any weak or dead branches by also cutting them off at the base. You want to exercise caution here and never cut the healthy wood, as this is typically where the new blooms form for the next season.
Some varieties form new blooms on the healthy wood from the previous season, so use your judgment when pruning and only remove the old, dead wood that is no longer producing if possible.
Potted winter protection
For potted plants, the best protective measure you can take is to bring the pots indoors, maybe into a greenhouse if you have one, even a shed would be suitable. Be sure to review the first frost date for your region and bring them inside before that frost.
If your plants are in pots too cumbersome to bring inside, or there simply isn’t room inside, you can keep them outside by protecting them using a method appropriate for smaller or newly planted, in-ground plants.
To do that, create a frame around the plant with chicken wire and stakes. Once the cage is formed, fill it with insulation such as oak leaves or pine needles. Be sure to pick items that won’t settle at the bottom of the cage and cut off circulation to the plant.
If you have the time, prepare in advance by saving a bag of leaves from the fall and filling the cage with those. As you are filling the cage do so carefully; you don’t want to snap off the branches of your hydrangea while trying to protect it or all is lost.
You can also buy fleece jackets or just use fleece to wrap around the hydrangea but these can be expensive but its a much simpler and easier process.
Pots can also be wrapped in fleece or lagging to protect the pots and the plants roots in really bad winters.
If possible, bring in your plants and keep them inside for the winter. If they remain indoors you will not have to build the insulating cage and you can get the same blooms the following year.
If you have very large established plants then they have been left to the elements, once established this is usually not a problem, especially for plants in the ground.
Benefits of winter care
While it can seem tedious, protecting your potted hydrangeas against the winter winds, cold, and frost. It will help you keep the plant thriving long term. Once you have cages and frames, you can re-use them every winter. You will be glad you did when spring comes and with it, beautiful flowers and foliage.