PookieMichelle
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Advice for Hydrangeas - preparing for winter...

Hello all! Here in the Metroplex, it seems that we have the horrendous heat in our rear view mirror! I was so afraid that my Hydrangeas wouldn't make it, but they seem to be well on their way to recovery!

I have an Endless Summer in the ground that is a bit of a scraggly mess - during a couple of those 100+ stretches, I nearly lost her - I kept telling my husband that I just had to keep her alive until the heat waves ended. Since the 100/high 90's temperatures stopped, she has thrown a few new buds and looks like I'll get a few pretty flowers before winter hits.

I also have 2 Forever & Ever Peppermints growing in a shaded spot in a half whiskey barrel that seem happy as can be.

In a moment of weakness, I picked up 2 small, 1 gallon Endless Summer Originals from a Home Depot a couple months ago. I've kept them in their original containers, as I didn't want to chance putting them in ground and them burning up from the heat. The plan is to add them to the flowerbed somewhere around the ES already established. My question is this: should I put them into a large container to keep shielded inside for the winter, and plant them in ground next spring? Would it be okay to plant them within the next month or so? It's next to impossible to predict what our Texas winter will be like.

My husband has also given in (finally!) and agreed to help me plant a couple Limelights out front - any thoughts as to placement? The ES that will be planted take up most of the room in the bright shade I have...will Limelight tolerate part sun with the blast furnace heat?

Thanks so much for always being so helpful!!!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Advice for Hydrangeas - preparing for winter...

Don't bring them inside! Hydrangea is very cold tolerant - I have one that handles my winters just fine. It is cold hardy (Endless Summer is rated hardy to zone 4!) and it needs a period of cold dormancy. It is not an indoor plant. Fall is a good time to be planting shrubs in the ground. If your hot weather is past, plant it now, so that it has time to establish roots, before its growth is slowed down too much by the cold.

Depends on the situation for the Limelight. It will handle morning sun with afternoon shade. Hot afternoon sun will be very hard on it. Whether it would survive it or not depends on lots of things - how many hours of sun, how direct, how much you water (the more sun, the more water it will need), etc. If it has to be in afternoon sun location, think about using some shade cloth to protect it.
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luis_pr
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Re: Advice for Hydrangeas - preparing for winter...

I know what you mean about scraggly hydrangeas. If it looks too bad, consider pruning all stems during the winter months while it is dormant in order to start fresh all over again. You can prune the stems about 1” from the ground if the shrub is just a few years old. If it is 5 yrs old or more, you may want to prune in thirds (prune one third on year 1, prune the next third on year 2 and prune the rest on year 3).

Hydrangeas that look dead can surprise you and return back. I had one that suffered when we had a really bad summer two years ago with almost no rain for 6 months. When Fall approached, it looked like it had dried out and was dead but the roots were fine, one just could not see that. I left it alone and kept the soil as evenly moist as possible and it leafed out and returned back in the Spring.

Our winter weather is quite easy on hydrangeas. “Mild winters” is how I would describe them, including the one when it snowed 9”. That is because hydrangeas are woody plants and they can handle worse conditions. So feel free to plant them on the ground now that the temperatures have moderated or in a month. Or wait until Spring.

Last year, the hydrangeas leafed out quite early, around mid February. Everything did as I also remember seeing some roses blooming in January. If you decide to wait but then see someone else’s hydrangeas starting to leaf out, you can bring yours outside. But…. I would personally delay planting outside until two weeks after the last average date of frost. Not because it will kill the plant but because the cold may affect the new leaves, which will be at the mercy of the weather for another month or so.

Like all the other hydrangeas in this area, Limelight’s leaves will suffer if planted where they get too much sun. Over here, mildly windy spots can also be a problem during the summer. Try to get shade by 11am-1pm ish. Wish I had a picture to share but, several years ago, I had one that was protected from the sun by a Crape Myrtle. The CM got hit by a hail storm that knocked out branches above the hydrangea and exposed it to too much sun. In a few weeks, the leaves in direct contact with the sun turned all yellow (the others remained dark green). Quite weird looking.

Up in the Northeast, the sun in the summer is not as strong so you can put Limelight and other paniculatas in full sun; but give them shade down here. Limelight however will get much, much larger that ES so take that into consideration. Make sure that it will all look right to you, aesthetically wise.

If the spot that you eventually pick has problems, feel free to transplant it again; many people have to do that. If the move has to occur in the middle of the summer, consider delaying it as it is so stressful that I try not to even plant anything then. I constructed a weird looking contraption that provided shade using cardboard and stick. I must have rebuilt it a bunch of times but it helped.

Luis

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Advice for Hydrangeas - preparing for winter...

Just to be really clear, luis. You suggested "So feel free to plant them in the ground now that the temperatures have moderated or in a month. Or wait until Spring" When you say OP could wait until spring, are you really saying the potted hydrangeas could over-winter indoors in a heated house? As you read above, that is not my impression, but you have way more hydrangea expertise than I do and I trust your judgment.
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luis_pr
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Re: Advice for Hydrangeas - preparing for winter...

Oh no, not indoors in a heated house. A garage or a shed is what I had in mind. Either will do, as long as it is not so far away from sight that you forget to water them. I like the garage idea but a shed will sometimes be the only option when the garage is overflowing with stuff. In that case, I set my Outlook Program to issue automated reminders so I do not forget to water the plants in the shed. My shed is not too far away but my memory is awful. :oops: :shock: :D

tomc
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Re: Advice for Hydrangeas - preparing for winter...

If a hydrangea can over-winter in-ground just fine in central NH, (and they can) why shelter one in TX???

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luis_pr
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Re: Advice for Hydrangeas - preparing for winter...

I can only guess.

Some people prefer not to expose new plants in pots to winter unless they have been sitting outside for a "long" period of time. Hydrangeas are woody plants so this should not be an issue as long as the hydrangea variety is hardy to one's USDA Zone. A cousin of mine that lives in Chicago does this but, then again, they have some wild winters there.

Perhaps there is concern about the weather during winter if the temperatures tend to go up and down like a yo-yo. Over here, it is common to hit highs in the 50-70s in Dec-March for days/weeks. Because it lasts more than a few days, this has triggered growth in hydrangeas planted in the ground... only to follow with a cold spell that kills the flower buds. In a reblooming hydrangea, that would not be a big problem but, on hydrangeas that bloom on old wood, that would be a big deal.

That last scenario happened to me about 5 years ago or so in one December. All the hydrangeas planted by the previous owner bloomed on old wood so I got only a total of 2 blooms from all the plants. It would probably force to think about delaying planting of the potted plant until Spring.

Do you have any terrible winter tales to share here? I have visited Mass/NH to see my MIL and that was just in May, the summer and in mid-October. No winter visits but I saw a pile of snow (snow drift in a shopping center parking lot) that had still not melted in May. Not a big deal for her in that area but it was to me as temperatures start hitting 90s in May here!

PookieMichelle
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Re: Advice for Hydrangeas - preparing for winter...

Thank you all so much!

I would not keep any hydrangeas indoors - just rolled into the garage if it got crazy icy with alot of sleet.

I think I am going to be brave and plant them within the next couple weeks. It's wonderful to be rid of the 100+ degree weather (fingers crossed!) My husband and I have much work to do while we enjoy pleasant fall temperatures. I am running flat soaker hoses all through our flower bed so that next summer isn't quite as torturous on my beloved flowers! Of course, since we enjoy the patented Texas clay soil so much, we will also be throwing amendments down before I bury my bulbs next month!

Everyone here has always been so helpful and I very much appreciate you!

:) Michelle

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ElizabethB
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Re: Advice for Hydrangeas - preparing for winter...

You do have extremely hot summers but you also have a good bit of cold winter in the DFW area. You could easily have freezing temperatures before the end of November early December. If you plant you 1 gallons today they may have time to get some decent roots established before your first freeze. I live in Lafayette, La so my winters are not as severe as yours. If they were my plants I would plant them in the ground. Given the difference in out winters you may want to pot them up to 3 gallon nursery pots. Leave them outside as much as possible and only bring them in if a hard freeze was predicted. Then put them back out as soon as the temperatures get above freezing. The plants in the ground can take the freeze but pots are a different story. No matter how scraggly your hydrangeas are don't prune them now. If you do you will not have blooms next year. Hydrangeas need to be pruned as soon as the blooms start to fade. That is when they set next years buds.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Advice for Hydrangeas - preparing for winter...

Good to see you back, Elizabeth; we missed you! :)
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