Hydrangeas freezing?

Dalton, GA(Zone 7a)

I have 2 hydrangeas in large pots in my back yard. To the best of my memory, they are Endless Summers.

Although I did get one bloom this year (on the larger one), other than that, they have not bloomed for several years. I have to admit, I have not taken good care of them - some years, I didn't take care of them at all. Some years I have pruned, some years I haven't. Some years they got a little fertilizer, some years they didn't. Same for watering (some years they only got rain). I really don't know how they have even survived.

But the thing that makes me think they might be freezing each winter is that the leaves always start growing from the base of the shrub. It's like it's starting all over every year. On my other hydrangeas, leaves grow anywhere on the branches.

I've taken better care of it this summer and plan to continue.

2 questions: Do you think it is freezing in the wintertime and if so, how do I prevent that? I've heard of people wrapping blankets around containers - hoping there's an easier way.

Here are 2 pictures in case seeing the size helps. (Disregard the middle one - the smallest one. The Endless Summers are the 2 larger ones.)

Thumbnail by firstyard Thumbnail by firstyard
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

From what you described as the care you have or have not given them, they are looking pretty darned good. Now if you would just get them out of those little pots and plant them in the ground, if they are freezing now, they probably will not freeze any more. The mass of ground around the roots being planted in the ground, would insulate them.

I didn't know your temperatures get that low there to freeze the ground. It might be that they are just getting cold enough that they are dying back to the ground and coming up again. A lot of plants do that.

Or maybe I misunderstood you. I thought you meant the roots were freezing. Probably not. Just plant them in the ground anyway. Wouldn't crowd the roots.

Hurst, TX(Zone 7b)

Cold temperatures can kill the stems if the weather gets too cold.

Cold temperatures can also fluctuate and the wild temperature swings can make the plant break dormancy just as a cold snap arrives and then kills the stems by freezing the water inside the plant cells and organs.

Putting a hydrangea that is not cold hardy in your zone outside can also cause this problem. A good example would be if you lived in Zone 6.

Lack of water in dry winters can also kill the stems and eventually the roots.

You can winter protect the shrubs when they begin to go dormant by digging a hole and putting the plant & pot in there. Then add some chicken wire around the bush, 6" or more wider and taller than the plants. Then fill them with either dried out leaves or mulch. Top with cardboard and hold the cardboarb in place with rocks. Add more in mid-winter due to settling. Or just bring them inside into the garage or a shed and water them once every two weeks or more.

Or plant them now if there is a good place that you like.

Be aware that the last two winters have been a real problem for mopheads in many locations. For examploe, two winters ago, I almost got no blooms from the mopheads, lacecaps and oakleaf hydrangeas. Even the oakleafs that are hardy to Zone 5 had their flower buds zapped due to temperature swings. I saw no damage to the stems here though. Then last year... it was a bit better but one oakleaf did not bloom and some mopheads bloomed and others did not. All of my hydrangeas are planted in the ground with 3-4" of mulch to help protect the roots in winter and to conserve soil moisture. The ones in more protected locations fared better.

PS - Make sure you do not have any circling roots in those pots as this can kill the shrubs when the root grow a lot and consume all the minerals. Also, the fertilizer in the potting mix may be all used up or drained out so add more fert regularly. A soil kit that tests for NPK can be bought at local nurseries to help you. They are cheapo kits and not very accurrate but will let you know if the NPK levels are high or low. If low then fertilize. If high, do not fertilize.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Luis, all of this stuff you posted makes sense except to Firstyard. If he/she has hot bothered to take care of these plants before, why would they go thru all these other things. I guess it doesn't hurt to say them, but don't expect it to be done.

I was trying to post the very least I thought might be done. Hopefully.

Oh well, he has made them into beautiful plants so good for her. LOL, don't know what firstyard is, he or she.

Hurst, TX(Zone 7b)

I know. I hear you. firstyard could opt for the simpler solution of planting them in the ground but if that is not doable, leave them potted and then do aaaaaaaaall those things. :o(

Sometimes, one cannot or one does not want to plant them in the ground in some locations for xyz reasons.

They do look grrrrrreat, don't they?!!!!


This message was edited Sep 25, 2015 3:59 PM

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

>smile< Luis, you think Firstyard just wanted to hear us say how great they looked? LOL pulled one over on us huh?

Dalton, GA(Zone 7a)

I'm afraid you are right Jnette, luis_pr's careful instructions are too much for me! (Thanks anyway, luis!) I was hoping for something easier.

Since I don't have an appropriate place to plant them, I'll probably just give them to a neighbor.


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