How To Take Care Of Hydrangeas In Winter? [Full Guide]

Do you grow hydrangea? Or are you are seeking the best way to care for them during winter?

Learn how to care for your hydrangeas in this article.

One general characteristics of hydrangeas is that they bloom in various colors such as pink, lavender, rose, white, and clear blue. Their big bushels of flowers grant them a beauty unrivaled in the shrubbery world. Their charm is that they are wary of cultivating in almost any soil. However, the color of hydrangeas depends on the acidity of the soil. The color could be blue in soils with less than 5.5 pH, while soils with higher 5.5 acidic level produce pink color.

If you get white flowers, it indicates a hydrangea that is not affected by acidity.

Due to their size, hydrangeas are suitable for garden sites alongside borders. However, the smaller varieties can be placed in a pot, though these are significantly larger than most potted plants.

What Type of Plant are Hydrangeas?

Hydrangeas are woody shrubs with bright, beautiful heads of flowers. While they are hardy plants, they are susceptible to loss of moisture.

To prevent problems during winter, choosing the right type of hydrangea is essential.

  • Consider the amount of sunlight required.
  • Determine the type of soil you need. Would you need to compost more to provide it with the right level of acidity?
  • Consider the size and color and size of blooms you want to cultivate

The way hydrangeas bloom depends on their specie. They thrive in moist but not overly wet soils. Since sunlight is usually full sun in the morning with shade in the afternoon, it is best to plant them in the spring or fall when most areas enjoy partial sunlight. Regardless of the variety, all hydrangeas bloom while receiving constant morning sunlight and afternoon shade.

Common Types of Hydrangeas

The following are the common types of hydrangeas. They are defined by the type of flowers they grow and their blooming times:

  • Bigleaf: on old growth
  • Oakleaf: on old growth
  • Panicle: on new growth
  • Smooth: on new growth
  • Mountain: on old growth
  • Climbing: on old growth

The most common variety is the Bigleaf, the shrub that adorns many gardens. Their flower buds form in late summer and then bloom in the fall. This means that you need to avoid pruning a big leaf after August 1.

Hydrangeas at home or for decorating?

Despite the shrub nature of hydrangeas, you can use them in bouquets. The best way to place them in a bouquet is to cut around the stem region and place it in cold water to prevent it from wilting.  Once in the water, you can make it smaller by removing the lower leaves from the remaining stem; once in the vase, place it in an excellent spot.

There are several ways to decorate with hydrangeas:

  • Using the head of flowers, you can create wreaths for your front door or any other part of the house.
  • A combination of blooms, flowers, and buds can be used as centerpieces or table arrangements.
  • Potted hydrangeas can be placed in vintage crates in some corner of the house or on the porch to give your home improvement and a more farm-style look.

Hydrangea means water vessel. Ther its cup-shaped flowers reflect their need for regular watering. Keep this in mind when decorating your hydrangeas.

How To Care For Hydrangeas In Winter: What are their weaknesses?

Though beautiful, hydrangeas can be finicky, especially during winter. It would be best if you prepared them for a harsh winter. Otherwise, they will not bloom in the spring.

Here’s how to have winter care for hydrangeas :

  • Prune away any dead branches, but avoid cutting new ones. You can find dead branches at the base of the plant.
  • The next step is building a wood-stick frame around the plant.

Remember, all hydrangeas will lose their lives during the winter months. Do not panic! Your shrubs aren’t dying yet. It only indicates that the plants are entering a period of dormancy. Even during the winter months, you will need to water the roots. This is especially true if you live in an area with a dry winter without much rain or snow.

If you experience more rainy winter snow or winter without snow, the chipping will protect you from rodents and bunnies that will be foraging for food during the winter months. Additionally, it’d be best to keep the hydrangea base covered with wood chips, oak leaves, pine straw, or some other type if you get snow.

Mulching Hydrangeas in Winter

The benefits of mulching go beyond general protection. Mulching is essential for winter. The compost provides protection and environmental consistency if the compost is evenly laid. Mulching is also required for farming in regions where the temperature fluctuates between freezing and below freezing for weeks or even months during winter.

This fluctuation of low temperatures leads water molecules in the ground to freeze and de-freeze cyclically throughout the winter. This contracting and melting water around and inside the roots leads to heaving. The heaving of the roots disrupts the entire root system, causing the hydrangea’s death. The best material for protective winter mulch is pine straw, oak leaves, or wood mulch.

Once spring arrives, wait until the last frost date to remove the mulch. Ensure you remove the mulch after the last frost to void late spring damage.

If it is not removed, the increasing heat will create moisture around the stems, leading to rot resulting from a lack of air movement. Excessive heat with the mulch still covering the ground around the plant can lead to rots. You may want to consider a few factors if you grow your hydrangea outside its usual growing zone in wintertime.

If you are carrying or transporting your hydrangea in a pot from a warm climate to a colder one, it will need an extra layer of mulch for better protection. It might also help if you put a wire cage around the shrub and wrap burlap around the wire. While the beginning of the winter is the best time to mulch, if you have had a sudden cold spell and have not mulched yet, you are still in time.

And if your hydrangea has been affected, resorting to mulching will prevent further damage.

Watering Hydrangeas in Winter

Your hydrangea plant needs to be watered even during winter. The amount of watering will depend on the type of winter you experience. If you live in a region with lots of snow, you may spend little energy watering it. The same applies if your winter is rainy. Hydrangea plants usually have scanty leaves during winter, so watering is minimal.

The best measure during winter depends on the level of dryness of the soil and stems. You don’t need to water them if they aren’t bone dry.

To water hydrangeas during winter, create a small hole in a bucket filled with water and place it at the base of the plant allowing the water to trickle out slowly. This is similar to the plant self-hydrating as much as it needs.

Another option is to turn the hose on at a slow cricket at the base of the plant, leaving it there for an hour. Note that the colder the temperatures, the easier it is to water them using this method than spraying.

Spraying may lead to the water turning into ice as it falls onto the plant. Another way to prevent drying out in the winter is to water daily after composting, before mulching, and before the ground freezes.

More Factors to Consider

Another winter survival method for hydrangea is adding compost to the plant’s base during the fall and before adding the mulch for temperature protection. This will allow the compost to break down over the winter, preparing the spring’s nutrients.

You must be careful not to add nitrogen to the compost or soil because this could trigger the addition of new leaves in a very late season. However, the best option will be well-aged manure or other organic matter covered with mulch.

It is best to apply this type of nutrient-rich matter in the early fall if you have harsh, long winter, but if you are in a warmer climate with mild winters, it can be applied in the late fall or early winter.

There are a few pests and diseases to which hydrangeas are susceptible. They include:

  • Botrytis blight: occurs when the area around the hydrangeas is water-soaked and can spread irregular brown splotches. To prevent this, avoid watering late in the day and only water at the base near the roots.
  • Slugs: common in many local garden center and chew through all the leaves.
  • Powdery mildew is a fungal growth that gives the leaves a yellow or purple blotchy look. It appears on all hydrangeas, but the big leaves are the most susceptible. You can prevent powdery mildew by reducing humidity and increasing air circulation.
  • Root rot: occurs on the oak leaf, usually used for landscaping; it causes wilting and is brought on by drought conditions. Avoid excess humidity by watering in the morning and not leaving the soil soaked.
  • Aphid: these are insects attracted to the hydrangeas building large populations on them. They cause leaf yellowing or fungal growth if the aphids have secreted a sugary liquid.


Pruning is one secret to having a blooming hydrangea. It does not detract you from using the right location for sunlight and preparing the soil with composting or fertilizers.

Note that pruning isn’t the same as removing dead flowers, which with hydrangeas is called deadheading. One of the best practices for pruning is to prune very close to the base of the dried leaf and dried bloom to avoid accidentally pruning away the newt are grown within the old wood of the previous year.

Pruning is more invasive and is used to maintain the shape or remove slowly slow growth. The parts and time to prune are known by the type of hydrangea you have, when it blooms, and how it cultivates its future buds.

Pruning times vary depending on the type of hydrangea:

  • Bigleaf: Summer after it has bloomed
  • Oakleaf: Summer after it has bloomed
  • Panicle: Late winter, right before the spring
  • Smooth: right before the spring
  • Mountain: Summer, after it has bloomed
  • Climbing: Summer after flowering

Generally, those hydrangeas that bloom in the summer need to be pruned afterward, but with some limitations. The summer bloomers are also those shrubs that grow the buds for a new bloom inside the stems of the existing shrubs.

When pruning, carefully cut away those deadwood branches or, if doing it by seasons, prune only in the early spring. It’s also good to leave the faded blooms over the winter months and remove them in the early spring.

Prune the panicle and smooth ones before flowers begin to form when recently planted hydrangeas that bloom when recently planted. These two varieties bloom on the current season’s branches and not the branches from past seasons.

That is why they are called new wood bloomers. These are best pruned in the late winter as they lie dormant; even then, only prune away dead branches.

If you want a complete plant, the best option is to prune down to the base. The two oldest stems leave behind the newer stems.


Maintaining balance in care is key to having a blooming hydrangeaSince hydrangeas are mostly planted as shrubs, chances are that they will be continuously exposed to adverse seasons.

For this reason, composting and mulching are essential for their survival during winter. And in extreme conditions, it’s recommended to wrap them rather than surround them with wooden stakes and wiring.

While hydrangeas are believed to be hardy plants and, in comparison, less demanding than others, they are also delicate. Excessive watering or too underwatering can cause harm to the root. Their roots are susceptible to temperature changes.

Therefore, balance the amount of water you give while pruning and the type of compost used.


  • Lydia Beaumont

    Lydia Beaumont is a go-to expert in interior design, known for her knack for stylish table settings, blending houseplants seamlessly with home decor, and designing inviting outdoor spaces. She has a real talent for making spaces look stunning while keeping them comfortable and livable. Lydia's creative touch brings a fresh and vibrant feel to any room or garden she works on.

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