Hydrangea Blossoms Blasted by Frost

Gardeners are careful by nature. It’s a good thing, because I had been thinking, but not uttering, the prediction that it would be a wonderful Hydrangea year. But anyone who’s tried to grow Hydrangea macrophylla in a cold climate knows that it’s not the winter temperatures that toll the flowers’ death knell, but the late spring frosts. And when those spring frosts follow on the tail of unseasonably warm temperatures lasting an unusually long time, we can pretty much forget about those bodacious Hydrangea blooms.

You can officially kiss this flower opportunity good-bye.
Go ahead and prune this branch back if it's a rebloomer like
'Endless Summer'.
So instead of dazzling you with great flower photos, I’ll be posting cautionary shots of what happens when plumped up buds get zapped by frost. I’ll also tell what I’ve learned from my attempts at covering my plants before night- and frost-fall. 
Outside leaves of Hydrangea 'Endless Summer'
blackened by frost where the
sheets touched the stem.

Hope springs eternal - but don't hold your breath.
This 'Endless Summer' bud is only partially nipped.

Although I had bed sheets for most of my tender hydrangeas, I didn’t provide a structure beneath the fabric to keep it away from the tips of the flowering stems. Mistake. All the uppermost branches were black and droopy by morning. The good news is that the lower branches that weren’t touched by the sheets were saved.
Hydrangea serrata 'Blue Billow' flower
killed by frost.

And the Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Billow’ I’ve been bragging about never failing to bloom? At least one third of the flower buds are goners.

This Hydrangea serrata bud
still has potential.
The bad news (besides the loss of most Hydrangea blossoms) is that we will probably get more frosty nights before we can sit back and relax. But gardeners always have some good news to counteract the bad news. You know those stems that suffered the brunt of the frost because the bed sheets were resting on top of them? Those very same stems (trimmed slightly to get rid of the black stuff) will provide support for the next time I have to put sheets on the Hydrangeas, keeping the lower branch tips safe from Jack Frost.


  1. I didn't cover anything and my hydrangeas took a beating, too. They look oh so very sad.

  2. Words of caution, indeed!
    At least you saved the lower branches! If they bloom before the next Bloom Day, post about them anyway!
    Have a blessed day!
    Lea's Menagerie

  3. My 'Blue Billow' got a bit zapped as well, but it wasn't as far along as yours, thank goodness. I'm experimenting with using tall (over 4 feet) lily stakes and draping the sheet on that so that it's not touching the foliage of the shrub. So far, so good.