How to Prepare Hydrangea for Winter

A gardener watering a purple hydrangea plant in a garden.
Without proper winter care, hydrangea may not bloom in the coming spring. Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

While beautiful and fragrant, hydrangeas are finicky plants that demand proper winter care to ensure that they bloom again in the coming spring. Because hydrangeas' spring flowers bloom from the previous year's buds, it's important that you properly prepare your plants for the harsh winter conditions. If not, your plant simply will not bloom come spring [source: Heuerman]. Read the easy steps listed below and learn about how you can prepare your hydrangea for winter.

  1. Prune away the dead branches. It's important that you only cut away the dead branches and leave the healthy ones, or you will have pruned its buds. If you do that, the plant won't bloom again in the spring. Most of the dead branches can be found at the base of the plant [source: BBC].
  2. Build a frame around your hydrangea plant with stakes of wood. If you live in an area that doesn't have much snow, the stakes can rest within plant's branches.
  3. Wrap chicken wire around the frame that you built. It should encompass the entire plant to form a cage.
  4. Fill the cage with mulch, pine needles or leaves. The insulation should be at least 6 inches (15 centimeters) deep, so it will adequately protect the plant from winter conditions. Some botanists feel that oak leaves are the best at insulating the plant throughout the winter because they don't settle as quickly as other plants. If you have an oak tree, make sure to store the leaves for use as insulation for your hydrangea plant [source:Gertens].

When you should prepare your hydrangea for winter depends on where you live. You want to make sure that it's after the plant has grown next year's buds but before the cold temperatures have begun. This is most likely in November [source:Gertens].