Time to report on winter's impact on my hydrangeas. In early May, I went out to my Zone 5 garden to see what winter had done to my hydrangeas that bloom on old wood: macrophyllas (big leaf) and hydrangea serratas (mountain). I also checked on the quercifolias (oak leaf) and petiolaris (climbing). 
I held my breath, fearing the worst since we had a brutal 2 week spell of cold temperatures to close out 2017 and begin 2018 in southwest CT:

I was relieved to find that all my oak leaf and climbing hydrangeas had buds on them. 
But then I had to muster the courage to inspect the troublemaker: hydrangea macrophylla. I have a variety of rebloomers (see list below). I also have some old wood macrophyllas like Lady In Red. Intentionally and unintentionally, my macrophyllas are scattered throughout various parts of my property with different levels of exposure to the elements. Here's what I found. 
Consistent with prior years, the buds on one Lady In Red which blooms only on old wood were alive and well. This plant was protected from the prevailing weather by a neighbor's house. The second Lady In Red was not so lucky: some tips and stems were clearly dead and showed no signs of life while other tips had live buds on them. Sadly, the first plant that came through winter with no scratches was later to suffer damage from a rare, freak tornado that tore into the plant. She is now badly damaged but still alive. The plan is to give her a severe cut back and reshaping after flowering to restore her. 
Then I traversed the yard. Of my Endless Summer® , The Original collection, some had complete dieback, as shown in this photo (it is now regenerating from the base).


Reblooming hydrangea regenerating from roots after complete winterkill of top growth.
Some had partial tip dieback, some had partial stem dieback or full stem death. Below is a photo of one that had a little of everything. The fence helped a little. The same happened to most of the other rebloomers I have.
Reblooming hydrangea showing partial winterkill of all or some stems.

BloomStruck® came through the best of all my Endless Summers® and the best of my entire collection of rebloomers. It is loaded with flowers at the tip of the stem on its prodigious new growth. The photo below shows what the plant looked like on May 4 after a very cool and gray April. The flowers are just starting (late June in CT) to color up.
Endless Summer BloomStruck® displaying full buds in early May with no winter dieback.


This picture below shows a tip that you might have thought was dead in April or even mid-May and you might have cut it off. But by early June, it actually produced a flower bud. The Lesson: Be patient when it comes to cleaning up your plants in spring and wait to see "broccoli" before you cut those stems.

Bud emerging in June from what might have been thought to be a dead tip in April.

Since I can't control the weather, when I analyze which of my plants did what, I draw two major conclusions
              First, the plants that did the best were those that enjoyed winter protection from one or more of several sitings: dry winter persistent foliage which might have been needled conifers like Alberta spruces or overhead junipers. They might have had oaks that held their foliage and helped block icy winter winds. In some cases, there was a garden shed or a house or fence which served as protection. Rhododendrons and azaleas also protected some plants. Make them think they live in a warmer zone. 

          My second conclusion is that reblooming hydrangea macrophyllas are the only way to go. Where the tips of my plants died back, it is their reblooming capability that are producing the flowers along the stems. The magic of rebloomers is the answer for cold climate gardeners and can only enhance performance for gardeners everywhere else. 

I'll be back in a few days with PART TWO of my report. That one will detail how my hydrangea serratas, the mountain hydrangeas, made it through the winter.

*Other rebloomers I assessed:
Endless Summer® Blushing Bride, Twist-n-Shout®
'David Ramsey'
Double Delights Wedding Gown, Perfection, and Star Gazer
Forever & Ever® Peppermint
Let's Dance® Blue Jangles®
Midnight Duchess®
Mini Penny
Nantucket Blue
'Penny Mac'
Pink Shira
Queen Of Pearls®









Popular posts from this blog