The Q&A Archives: Annual Hydrangea?

Question: My husband bought me a beautiful pink hydrangea 2 years ago. He insisted that the florist told him it had to be indoors through the winter, so I have kept it that way and put it outdoors in a pot during spring, summer and fall. It is healthy and blooms a ton. I was hoping you could tell me if there is such a thing as a hydrangea that you can't plant outside and have survive the winter? My other hydrangea bushes are all outside and love it. Thank you.

Answer: Florist's hydrangea is usually a common name for Hydrangea macrophylla. Although Hydrangea macrophylla is nominally hardy through USDA winter hardiness zone 6 and H. serrata possibly up into zone 5, survival depends greatly on microclimate as well as the literal zone. Certain varieties will also simply perform better in the garden than others, and some varieties will have root hardiness but not bud hardiness. If you are having excellent success with this florist's hydrangea, you might experiment a little: root a cutting and see if it can overwinter successfully where you are. By testing the cutting you will not risk losing the plant or setting it back so badly. Since you have such good luck with your other hydrangeas, it might actually be successful. Perhaps the florist had already tried it and failed, or perhaps did not want to get your hopes up unduly in case it didn't work out -- often the florists' plants are straight out of the greenhouse and not acclimated for planting in the garden and, if planted out at Easter in full bloom, for example, die in short order. Good luck with your hydrangea!

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