Hydrangea Clean Up: Trimming The Dead Ends

hydrangea growth in spring
Growth on Old Wood

Now that the hydrangeas have sprung back from the weight of the snow, I realize I have some trimming and pruning to do. I leave the dead flowers on the stalks over winter, but now they need to be removed. Some branches are broken, but I know that they will fill in quickly with new growth.

Some hydrangeas bloom on new growth so you don’t want to trim those in Spring, or you may be cutting off the blooms. Some bloom on old wood – the stems that were there last year. And some will bloom on both.

This is my “Endless Summer”, a small shrub that I planted last Spring and it bloomed profusely even though it never grew very large.  This year I expect it will grow larger and lots of blue flowers.  The dead flowers are still showing at the end of the stalks and I will be cutting them off.

Hydrangeas That Grow in Zone 5

Cold hardy hydrangeas are not hard to find as most varieties survive very cold winters.

Hydrangea quercifolia - Oakleaf hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia – Oakleaf hydrangea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been looking for a new hydrangea to add to my yard and that means it will have to thrive in zone five.  I live in the Monadnock Region of southern New Hampshire and that is Zone 5, or 5a, to be more specific.  These are cold hardy hydrangeas, and luckily most varieties of hydrangea can take the extreme cold.

I can tell you (and show you) what I have presently growing in my yard, and these types are found frequently in my area of the country.

The Endless Summer Blue macrophylla (rounded flowers) variety is popular for it’s beautiful blue flowers.  As you can see in the photo below, this type can grow flowers in shades of pink, purple and blue all on one shrub!  Gorgeous.

See more photos.

blue hydrangea flowers
Endless Summer will be blue if the soil is acidic

More types of hydrangeas I’ve grown in my New Hampshire yard with much success include the “Blushing Bride” which is also an Endless Summer variety.

white hydrangeas
The Blushing Bride begins white and changes to pink and green

Also, Pinky Winky and  Pee Gee (Paniculata grandiflora), and many others will grown in the north.  In fact hydrangeas seem to enjoy cold more than heat.  The Endless Summer types tend to wilt in the hot sun, even if they have plenty of water.

My best advice is to shop in local stores and nurseries in spring and see what they are selling.  Most likely the types for sale will do well in your climate zone.  Also, you can view a comprehensive list of Hydrangea types and their grow zones on Dave’s Garden site.

hydrangea paniculata pinky winky
Pinky Winky, paniculata variety (3 year old plant)


One warning about planting the Pinky Winky (which is one of my favorites, and is featured at the top of this page, in pink) is that deer will eat it.  One side of my shrub was always chewed down where the deer passed through my yard!  It also attracts bees, so maybe keep it away from patios and outside sitting areas.  But it is very easy to care for, and it produces gorgeous flowers. So please don’t let that stop you from including one in your landscape.

Mothers Day is The Time to Shop For Hydrangeas

ImageFinally — it’s hydrangea buying time – almost.  In May it seems that the stores and nurseries get their shipments of hydrangeas in just in time for Mother’s Day. So the weekend and week just before the holiday is an excellent time to shop for hydrangeas.

Last year was the first time I had bought the plants myself.  That’s the Endless Summer blue in my picture and it did give me some very pretty light blue flowers. My yard is still in desperate need of landscaping, but it should be in better shape this year once my plants come into bloom.   Last season I had hoped to find a variety of colors to choose from and I was not disappointed!

Last May I bought six hydrangea plants at The House By The Side of The Road in Wilton, New Hampshire and I only stopped there (at six) because my cart was full!

They offered a wide selection to choose from and all of them looked very lush and healthy.  I expected to pay a lot since hydrangeas are popular flowers, but the pricing was reasonable I thought and ranged from $29.99 to $36.99 each and they were large plants.

hydangeas in pots
Newly purchased hydrangeas in pots

I have a lot of shade in my yard, but fortunately hydrangeas can take the shade – as long as they do get some sun.  So this is the year I will see just how well they took to spending winter in my yard.

Endless Summer Hydrangeas For Northern Gardens

Hydrangea macrophylla
Image via Wikipedia

If you live in a very cold climate as I do, one hydrangea that should flourish in your yard would be the Endless Summer (Hydrangea macrophylla) variety. It is loved for it’s profuse blue flowers, but acidic soil is needed for the blue color.

The tricky part is knowing whether the flowers will bloom as pink or blue.  That will depend on the acidity of your soil. If your soil has a low ph level (5.2-5.5) your flowers will be blue, but any higher and you may get a pink and blue combination or all pink blooms. The soil where I live in New Hampshire is naturally acidic, so my Endless Summer hydrangeas bloom blue.

Not every type of hydrangea shrub will like the cold winters of New England, so be sure to do your research before buying and make sure you are investing in a plant that will not die over it’s first winter in a northern garden.

The Endless Summer shrub will bloom from new growth (as well as old) in the Spring, so while the shrub sits buried under 2 feet of snow for months you won’t have to worry if the stems break. It will come back. They thrive in planting zones 4-9 so they can take the heat too!

blue hydrangea 100
My Endless Summer Hydrangea bush