Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to learn about the language of hydrangea flowers. We’re talking here about the most popular hydrangea, known as mophead, hortensia, pompom or big leaf. Botanically, it’s Hydrangea macrophylla.


Feeling hydrangea-starved? That describes me a week or two ago. Then we had two consecutive days of temps in the 60s. That gave me a terminal case of spring fever! But I knew enough not to rush out and start playing with my hydrangeas. Living in zone 5, there’s a lot of winter still ahead of me. February is right around the corner and then there are the cruel 31 days of March. So what’s a hydrangea-lover to do? 

Deer Damage on Hydrangeas in Winter

This is the time of year to be alert to deer damage on hydrangeas. The weather pattern of deep cold, snow, and ice storms has made it increasingly difficult for them to get around and find food sources to sustain life. Deer tracks are the obvious tip off so here's what to look for:

Preparing Hydrangeas for Winter

Boy Caught in Snowstorm
We have had a few nights where the temps have dropped in to the high 30s, a stark reminder that it’s time to prepare to wrap some of my bigleaf (macrophyllas) and mountain (serratas) hydrangeas for winter. Those that aren't planted in protected locations as I described in my other blog posts, and need a little help if I want to give them their best chance of having their buds make it through the coming winter to see flowers in 2020. 
Exactly what does this mean right now? SHRUB COVERS: something to safely protect the plants from ice and snow, maybe even give them a few degrees of insulation.


On my recent garden visits, I’ve noted an abundance of leaf spots and unsightly foliage on hydrangeas. They can be bacterial leaf spot from an infection by Xanthomonas campestris, or Cercospora which grows from the pathogen Cercospora hydrangeae. I’m also seeing powdery mildew on many plants. You can thank Erysiphe friesii var. friesii (formerly Microsphaera friesii). If you’ve got blemished foliage, a trip to your local extension office can diagnose which it is so you can apply the proper treatment, if at all.