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badboybilly82

Winter Protection Results

Billy (Zone6 Mass)
4 days ago
last modified: 4 days ago

Today I decided to take my winter protection off the Macro Hydrangeas and was pleasantly surprised by the results considering other Macros in my area are still completely bare that weren't winter protected. Now I need to keep a very close eye on night time temps!!! Here's the info and results:

  • Nantucket Blue Hydrangea
  • Planted around the end of May 2018
  • Wooden stakes with burlap stapled to stakes. Filled with mostly hay and a little bit of oak leaves.
  • Winter protected roughly from beginning of Nov to April 13th in Mass







  • Nikko Blue
  • Planted around July 2018
  • Wooden stakes with burlap stapled to stakes. Filled with mostly hay and a little bit of oak leaves.
  • Winter protected roughly from beginning of Nov to April 13th in Mass







  • Nantucket Blue Hydrangea
  • Planted in Sept 2018 right before plants go into hibernation
  • Wooden stakes with burlap stapled to stakes. Filled with mostly hay and a little bit of oak leaves.
  • Winter protected roughly from beginning of Nov to April 13th in Mass
  • It's not dead obviously but not getting the budding like I am on my other Nantucket Blue I planted earlier in 2018. Hopefully he wakes up and pulls through.






Final thoughts:

  • Hay appears to be a VERY good insulator but what a pain it is to clean it up. I broke a bunch of baby branches off the one I planted in May 2018. Luckily there's plenty more left
  • Mold/fungus didn't appear to be an issue but I did have a very tiny amount of mold at the very top of the hay pile but nothing near the plants or at the bottom of the pile.
  • Next year my plan is to use chicken wire and just leaves. Also going to try and put a tarp over the cage to minimize the amount of moisture that collects in the cage.

Comments (13)

  • guyground

    What's the frost free date in your area?


    Late frosts are notorious for zapping Macro hydrangea buds.

  • Billy (Zone6 Mass)

    Middle of May. I'll be watching the weather like a hawk now that the protection is removed. Extended forecast is showing nothing below 40 at night for the next week.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    I wouldn't worry about frosts :-) It takes more than a frosty night to bother hydrangea buds. I never protect any of my macs (no need to in my climate) and they experience many frosty nights even well into spring and never blink! Late freezes are another matter....temps that drop into the 20's or lower are what you need to guard against.

  • Billy (Zone6 Mass)

    I actually reconfigured the wooden stakes to form a pyramid over the shrubs. If they forecast nighttime temps near freezing i'm going to toss some frost blankets over them. I want my blue flowers!!!

  • guyground

    Good for you!

  • Billy (Zone6 Mass)

    I'm a little bummed about the other Nantucket Blue that I planted in Sept 2018. I have very little budding on old growth. There's new growth at the base though. Fingers crossed it does OK. I'm wondering if I planted it too late in the season in 2018 and didn't have a chance to get properly established for winter? I think it was in the ground for only a couple weeks before a frost came through and started dormancy..... Just trying to learn from possible mistakes.

  • a1an

    Gosh Billy. The last 2 pics......how are the canes ? They look uber wet if not ~black wet~...


    We had a mild/wet winter here this season. When I removed my winter coverings about 45 days ago or so, some of the thinner canes were MUSH due to the wet mild winter.

  • Billy (Zone6 Mass)

    Yep same with my winter. Was very mild and got tons of rain. Most of the canes on the Nantucket Blue that I planted in Sept 2018 were mush when I removed the protection. All the previous growth appears to be a loss so i'm not expecting it to be a good looking shrub this year. The good news is there's a ton of new growth at the base. I'm going to let mother nature do its thing and hopefully next growing season it will look better. My theory is when I planted it, it was a very small/young shrub with extremely thin canes. That coupled with the fact I planted it right before fall, it didn't have enough time to get acclimated. My biggest lesson learned is I think I need to throw a tarp over the protection next year to minimize the amount of water that gets into the cage.

  • a1an

    Tarp won't let it breath.....


    I undid my overwintering early-mid february as I knew how mild and wet the winter was


    I noticed you said you stated around Nov. Seems awfully early though Did it ever go dormant ? Those black canes don't look good....it's a waiting game, but I tend to wait till the 1st hard freeze instead of trying to keep it warm and cuddly and awake all winter.

  • Billy (Zone6 Mass)

    Nov for my area, plants are dormant (all leaves are off the plants). We had a couple frosts come through before I winterized. No leaves were on the plant when I winterized. I wouldn't tarp the whole thing. Just over the top to minimize water soaking the inside as much. Sides would be chicken wire cage so it would breathe from the sides. Yea I'm thinking the current canes are complete loss. I'll let the new growth from the base grow and see how things go this growing season.

  • luis_pr

    My MIL's mophead hydrangea in NH would be dormant in November. Down here, they loose leaves in December or January or never (but the 'never' is limited to mild years & only the oakleaf hydrangeas on my protected locations). For some reason though, those 'never' years are happening a lot. Probably the last 4-5 years in a row, the oakleaf hydrangeas on the back of my property have never lost their leaves until leaf out starts in March. But the single, lone oakleaf in front of the house likes to go dormant in December, always, like the mopheads.

  • a1an

    Heh, depending on errr...global warming or not, I might even skip over-wintering next year. I'm thinking this may be the new NORM. Instead of fretting about whether it was too cold and windy, I was concerned it was too mild and wet. And when I pulled back the overwinter, to have the smaller canes be mush, it proved my concerns. Maybe it's time to just let dwarnisim of the fittest survive.

  • Billy (Zone6 Mass)

    Luis,

    There's an oakleaf I drive by a couple times a week. Same thing. Didn't drop leaves till about March.

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