KC Gardens

What should I do about my hydrangeas now?

QUESTION: Like most of the KC area, my hydrangeas experienced a very unusual year; i.e. few/no blooms early in the season - but they were blooming when we had our first hard freeze in November.

I still have done nothing with them. They still have their leaves (like many of the local trees and shrubs). My question is........should I prune them back at the first opportunity of a nice day in January?

One group is Endless Summer and the other group is Glowing Embers.

Thanks very much for your insight. Foy

ANSWER:

"Endless Summer" and "Glowing Embers" belong to a group of hydrangeas whose wood (including flower and leaf buds) can be killed during a hard winter by the cold or through dessication. They then have the ability to bloom on the new wood produced during the next growing season. That is why your hydrangeas bloomed late.

What to do now? Absolutely nothing. The old leaves will eventually fall off. As far as pruning, wait until the plants start to grow in the spring, then only prune wood that is dead, so as to preserve the flower and leaf buds that survive the winter. Fertilize in spring and again mid-summer, keep well-watered, and mulch the root zone to conserve moisture. Only time will tell if the buds on this past year's growth survive, but if not these hydrangeas will produce new growth at ground level and bloom later in the season.

Hope this answers your question.

Carole-Johnson County Extension Master Gardener

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