The Q&A Archives: Winter Care For Pink Elf Miniature French Hydrangea

Question: I just planted 5 Pink Elf Miniature French Hydrangeas. I live in zone 5 but live very close to Lake Michigan and I planted them in a sheltered area. The info on your tag says they are good to zone 6.
Because I live close to Lake Michigan (lake effect worming in winter) and have planted them in a sheltered area do you think they will make it through the Chicago winter?

Could I treat them as roses and cover them with mulch?

Any thoughts,

Jim Dehne

Answer: Unfortunately, I think you may have trouble getting them to bloom for you even if they do survive. These plants bloom on the previous year's wood so you must protect the stems from winter kill. Shelter from the wind is important, and perhaps your microclimate will be warm enough. If you try to cover them with something, it needs to hold ample air so as not to cause rotting problems due to excess moisture being trapped against the stems and crown. You might have luck with a temporary mini hoop house or tent of clear plastic with some venting to prevent excess heat build up on sunny days along with ample mulch over the root zone and perhaps some dry oak leaves or dry staw heaped over the crown and stems for insulation. This will probably be a bit ugly and also a matter of experimentation, so please do not be disappointed if it doesn't work out.

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