Hydrangea – No Leaves in Winter

Q: Last summer my established hydrangeas didn’t really bloom. I assumed this was because of the drought and the shrubs were just conserving energy and would bounce back next spring. I did not prune the shrubs last summer or fall and am concerned because the shrubs show no sign of new growth now in March.

Did the drought kill these established shrubs? Is there anything I can do now to save them?

A: They look pretty normal for early spring. Hydrangeas aren’t supposed to have leaves in winter.

The lack of blooms last summer was caused by the Easter, 2007 freeze. It killed all of the flower buds….so you got leaves on the lower part of the plant but no flowers for most of the summer. You might have had a few flowers in fall.

Use your thumbnail to scratch several stems of your plant. If you see green beneath the scratch, the stem is healthy. It will put out leaves this spring….and if we don’t get a big freeze after the leaves have emerged, you’ll get flowers in May.

If you find dead stems, they can be removed now…just don’t cut out any healthy stems. Healthy stems will have swollen winter buds on them.

If you need to reduce the size of the shrub by pruning, do that in mid-July.

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