the tale of the macro hydrangeas

My passion for hydrangeas started early last summer after I planted Annabelle. The huge white balls of flowers are the most popular of hydrangeas around here, so I became more interested in the colourful macrophyllas wanting to have something different in my garden. That same month I purchased All Summer Beauty from the Endless Summer collection, Red Sensation from the Forever & Ever collection, Glowing Embers, Hamburg, Cityline Mars and Cityline Vienna. It became an obsession to where I even purchased books about hydrangeas and spent some time searching on the web for different varieties knowing full well that these were borderline hardy here. I also planted a few from the paniculata family – PeeGee, Limelight, Pink Diamond, Bombshell and Kyushu [I no longer have Kyushu as my dog felt he needed to pull it out of the ground and eat it last fall].

After doing lots of reading on how to over winter the macro hydrangeas in zone 5 I decided on burlaping them while providing a thick layer of leaf mulch around the base of each. I think I became a freak about this and used burlap too early. I wrapped them up in late October which means the hydrangeas still had most of their leaves. Upon removing the burlap in early March I discovered lots of dead canes and moldy, black shriveled leaves still hanging on to the canes. A lesson learned.

Here is what they all look like today –

Glowing Embers



Vienna, not doing very much.

Red Sensation. I cut this one right down to the ground as it also blooms on new wood. I have just noticed a flower bud on this one.

All Summer Beauty. Despite this one looking terrible it has 3 flower buds from the new growth. Also, I did not burlap this hydrangea, but the canes still look dead. At least they aren’t leafing out so I assume they are dead.

I’m thinking I will just cut them all down to where the new growth as started and I’m also thinking I won’t burlap them this winter. Just leave them be and see what happens next spring. All of these macros are planted in the backyard where I don’t have true gardens yet.
On a side note, all my paniculatas look great and I’ll take photos of them when they’re loaded with blooms.


13 thoughts on “the tale of the macro hydrangeas

    • The macrophylla hydrangeas ? I thought most of them only bloomed on old wood so would you not get any blooms that year if it was cut down ? I know with the paniculatas and Annabelle can be cut down since they bloom on new wood. I’m just not sure what to do about these macrophyllas.

  1. I think Hydrangeas are the holy grail of many gardeners in zones 5-7. (Especially for those of us who have given up on attempting to grow delphiniums in climates where they “melt.”) We’re either too hot or too cold. That’s not much consolation, but even down here in zone 6/7 (almost 8 now with the new USDA map), I’ve had macros look exactly like that due to summer stress of heat and drought. But the siren’s call of those lacecap and mophead flowers keep us pushing on and trying again and again…

  2. I’m a big fan of hydrangeas, but have never researched the different varieties. I have Endless Summer in my yard and they are in full bloom right now. I don’t particularly love the color though. You’ve peeked my interest and given me a place to start! nice post.

  3. Really interesting post. I have an Endless Summer one that hardly ever blooms much… maybe too shady? Look forward to seeing yours in flower!

  4. I also share your love of hydrangeas, I have planted 6 since moving here, and I added 3 hydrangea topiary trees this Spring…. can’t wait to see all your flower varieties (some I have not heard of!). Did you know there is a climbing hydrangea? I need to research it, and look for a place to start one! Stacey

    • Yes, I have seen the climbling hydrangeas. There are a few different cultivars in one of my hydrangea books. Go to, they have a wide variety of all sorts of hydrangeas.

  5. Here in the Niagara region I keep seeing the same thing on almost every hydrangea I see lately. As a horticulture technician and a gardener it appears as though it wasn’t the burlap wrap that did in your hydrangeas,but the weird winter we went through. By cutting all the dead and rotting canes out your plants will perk up and be beautiful in no time!

    It wasn’t anything you did or didn’t do. Hope this puts your mind at ease.
    Great post and pictures!

    • That is good to know, and it does make sense that this past winter was anything but normal and most likely affected many perennials and shrubs. I cut off all the dead canes and most look pretty good.

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