Hydrangeas, with their stunning blooms, are a favourite among garden enthusiasts. Their straightforward care routine is a significant draw, but a common mistake in the autumn season can inhibit their flowering in the subsequent year. With autumn upon us and winter around the corner, gardeners must take steps to safeguard their plants from the impending frosty weather.

One essential aspect of garden maintenance is pruning trimming away dead foliage to maintain plant health. However, the timing of pruning is a common source of confusion, particularly for hydrangeas. Many species of hydrangeas are susceptible to damage if pruned in autumn, as their buds for the following year may already be forming on the stems. Pruning could cut off these buds at this stage, preventing the plant from flowering next year.

Gardeners can undertake numerous simple steps to protect their hydrangeas before winter and ensure their vibrant return next summer.

Understanding the type of hydrangea in your garden is vital, as certain varieties are more susceptible to winter damage and have specific pruning times. Most hydrangeas fall into two categories: old wood or new wood species, which is when their buds grow during the year.

Old wood hydrangeas, which bloom in spring or early summer, will likely have already formed their flowering buds for the following year. These plants require careful monitoring during winter to prevent frost damage to the buds. If your hydrangeas bloom later in the summer rather than spring, they are likely new wood hydrangeas. These plants form flowering buds in spring and are less likely to need additional winter care. While these can technically be pruned now, it’s generally best to leave most hydrangea varieties until spring.

One of the most straightforward yet effective methods to maintain hydrangea health during winter is mulching.

This gardening technique involves adding organic material to the soil as fertilisers. Mulching helps control weeds and insulates plant roots, protecting them from cold temperatures. It also aids in retaining soil moisture, which is crucial during winter when rapid thawing and repeated freezing can harm plants.

To safeguard your hydrangeas, apply mulch around the base of the stem before the ground freezes in late autumn. Fallen autumn leaves are an excellent choice for mulch. Collect these leaves now and store them in a hessian sack for later use. Other suitable mulching materials include bark, newspaper, wood chips, straw, grass clippings, sawdust, and pine needles.

The simplest winter protection method for gardeners with potted hydrangeas is to bring them indoors.

Choose a shady, cool location for your hydrangea, such as a conservatory, garage, shed, or greenhouse. Although hydrangeas go dormant during winter, they still require watering at least once a month to keep their roots solid and moist until spring.

If bringing your hydrangea indoors isn’t feasible, keeping them well-hydrated is the best way to protect them. Adequate hydration helps the plants withstand harsh winter winds and prevents them from drying out.

By taking these steps, you can ensure that your hydrangeas remain robust throughout the winter and reward you with a bounty of colourful blooms next year.

Steps to ensure that your hydrangeas remain robust during the winter and return with colourful blooms next summer.