My Daffodils and Tulips made it through the rough winter. They were already poking up six inches tall as the snow drift melted away. I knew they would be OK. Fall bulbs stay cozy all tucked away under seven feet of snow. But my hydrangeas, I’m afraid, pose the dreaded question. Have they made it through the harsh weather we’ve had over the last four months? That is exactly what everyone has been concerned about. We are only just finding out the answers.
It was a tough winter for all our trees and shrubs. Heavy snow has caused a lot of winter damage. If you’re like me, I love these plants like they are my babies. Homeowners have been walking their property and voicing their concerns. I lost my first hydrangea three years ago. I planted it in the fall; it was dead in the spring – not from heavy snow, but maybe from the cold. In this event, even with an educated guess, I did not know why. I did everything right and still lost.
So I tried again and bought another lace cap Big Leaf Hydrangea called “Let’s Dance”, and added an “Invincibelle Spirit” Hydrangea that I won on face book. They were absolutely stunning last summer. Unfortunately the heavy snow we received in “Snow-vember” dropped them to the ground breaking all the branches. Knowing that this big leaf hydrangea sets flower buds on old wood, (the previous season), sadly, I know I won’t see it flower this year. I will need to trim what is left of the broken branches. I will patiently wait for new growth as the weather warms. I do not expect to see flowers again till next year on this variety if it made it through.
“Invincibelle Spirit” however, should be a different story. It is a Smooth Leaf Hydrangea and flowers on new growth every year. This specimen can be cut back to 2 ft. in the fall or early spring when new growth emerges. Branches were broken by heavy snow but I know it won’t matter with this one. I can still trim it back to clean it up and see this shrub flower this growing season.
What could I have done differently to save my Big Leaf Hydrangea? For starters: the location of this shrub is along the driveway and backed up against the house. Since heavy snow and ice can cause a lot of damage to branches and trunks, it is important that plants be placed away from house eaves and other areas where snow or ice is likely to collect and fall or slide onto the plants. An A-frame placed over top of these shrubs would have been a wise decision to protect them.
As far as your trees go, pruning broken branches can be done now if you haven’t done so already. It may take time but they will recover. If they don’t it’s just a fact of gardening. You win some you lose some, but the rewards when we do win are worth the efforts.