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Pruning hydrangeas in winter

By on February 23, 2015


A couple of weeks ago, I decided that the weather was perfect to do some gardening. So I put on my snow boots and winter coat, grabbed a shovel and some pruning shears, and went outside to prune our Annabelle hydrangeas.

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

Yes, I probably should have pruned these hydrangea bushes last fall (like I did the first time with great success). But in the first few months of adjusting to life with Baby T, garden maintenance wasn’t really at the forefront of our minds, so the hydrangeas were left on their own as fall turned into winter.

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

I’ve read that Annabelle hydrangeas can be pruned anytime between autumn and early spring (check out this site and these guidelines and this blog post) because they bloom on new wood. So I decided to put it to the ultimate test and try pruning them in the dead of winter this year. You know, in the snow and ice and freezing cold. That’s not crazy, right?

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

Before starting to prune, I had to dig the bushes out a bit since they were buried in a huge snowdrift. I wanted to cut down the branches to about 18 inches from the ground, so I used a small shovel to clear snow from the areas I wanted to prune. I tried not to damage the branches, but I did end up scraping a few of them and exposed the green insides.

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

When I had shoveled enough to be able to see what I had to work with, I started trimming. Some of the branches were still bent down and buried under the snow, so I pulled these out to prune them. And I completely trimmed off the few sections where I had scraped the stems with the shovel.

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

Once I pruned everything down to about 18 inches, I collected all the trimmed branches and put them in a yard bag for pickup later on in spring.

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

We’ve had a cold and snowy February here in the Midwest, so when things warm up and melt a little, I’ll check if any stray stems were hiding under the snow.

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter | Rather Square

Hopefully this won’t be another pruning fail like the smoke tree (which we still haven’t fixed yet, by the way!). Is there such a thing as having a white thumb (instead of a green or black one) for gardening in winter? If this risky landscaping move works, I’m going to declare winter gardening (and #whitethumb) a new trend.

Cross your fingers (again) that I haven’t killed our gorgeous Annabelle hydrangea. What do you think – will Annabelle survive?

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February 23, 2015

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