Uncovered my ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea

– Posted in: Garden chores, Hydrangeas

I finally uncovered my ‘Endless Summer’ and ‘Forever&Ever’ hydrangeas. I had discovered that dumping a bunch of dry leaves over them in the fall was sufficient to protect them from the erratic spring freezes that we have. The old branches help hold the mulch in place, and I cut them down in the spring when I remove the mulch. You can see a few of the old branches in the photo above.

We have had frost in the first week of June in other years, and even though none was predicted for this week, well, we’ve had frost before when none was predicted. I’d rather uncover them a week later rather than have all their new growth blackened after weeks of waiting. That’s a certain way to lose a season’s bloom.

You can see the small, pale leaves that have been hiding under the mulch until now.

You can see the small, pale leaves that have been hiding under the mulch until now.

Experience tells me that the tiny leaves that have been protected by mulch will soon green up and catch up in size with the leaves that grew beyond the mulch.

This ‘Endless Summer’ now has some size to it. I had two very small trial shrubs, and when we had our hard freeze on May 19th, one got killed and one got severely damaged, despite having leaves mounded over them and plant containers covering them. If you tend to get lots of “surprises” during spring, you almost can’t protect them too much.

I have some organic fertilizer for acid-loving shrubs that I will scratch into the soil as soon as the rain stops.

How are your hydrangeas faring?

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

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Diane April 5, 2013, 8:36 am

NH here..still pretty cold in the morning…we bought our first endless summer last year…I cut it back as instructed ab
Nd covered it for our seemingly endless winter this year….how long should I wait to uncover….it is April 5th and I think it is too early but I m a novice…beautiful blue blooms last year…pine trees, plenty of acid soil so I am hoping it loves it here..

Thank you

Liz April 5, 2013, 3:36 pm

Hi Diane,

I usually uncover in late April, although last year I uncovered in early April because of our oddly warm and snow-free winter.

I am thinking of uncovering mine this coming Sunday, though. Here in Central NH, if the forecast holds, starting Sunday we will have around a week of warm (50s or even 60+) days and above-freezing (40-ish or even higher) nighttime temps. I think I’ll uncover to give my plant a headstart, but be vigilant about covering with a sheet if frost is forecast. Temps below freezing wón’t absolutely ruin the plant, but I want to give it the best chances possible, so I will protect the young buds from frost.

My plants absolutely love my soil and stay bright blue. They do extremely well (even in an area which gets a lot of afternoon sun) as long as they are treated with care in the winter.)

Good Luck!

Liz April 5, 2013, 3:39 pm

Oh, and yes… a seemingly Endless Winter. I am so glad it’s almost over!!! (Of course I still have huge piles of snow from the plow but I see the end in sight.)

Elizabeth November 8, 2010, 10:35 am

I have one Endless Summer, which I planted near the foundation of my house in late spring 2010. I wasn’t sure if we had acidic soil or not, and quite quickly the bright blue blossoms the plant had when I brought it home from the garden center turned that sort of indeterminate blue/pink color. I figured this meant my soil was not that acidic. But, the next round of blossoms (in late August) were bright blue, not at all pink… basically, the “ideal” color, and they stayed that way for about 3 weeks before wilting. So, I’m not sure what to think about my soil.

But in any case, I just wanted to mention that foundations can leech lime, making the soil in the area less acidic. This may be what is happening in your case, Kathy. (Also, the soil near foundations is often a sandy fill, which can make a difference.)

Here in New Hampshire, I have just covered my plant with a thick mulch of dried leaves. Fingers crossed that this plant makes it through the winter alright… we get a very hard freeze here, so I know the plant is definitely going to freeze, but I hope somehow the mulch helps.

Sharon in Wisconsin October 19, 2009, 2:33 pm

So I live in Wisconsin. Do I prune my Endless Summers or not? Won’t they just freeze anyway, if I don’t?

Kathy Purdy October 19, 2009, 6:29 pm

Supposedly leaving the stems on over the winter offers them a bit more protection. Cut the dead stems back once new growth has started and you can see where the live growth begins.

Debby July 12, 2009, 9:13 pm

We planted several Endless Summer Hydrangeas 5 years ago when we built our house. They’re along the front of the house facing north. They get morning sun and that’s about all. Every year they’ve gotten bigger and produced more and more blooms. Last year they were about 3½ ft high with beautiful pink and blue huge blooms on the same plant. This year they’ve reached about waist high but the blooms are much more sparse. I think it was due to some of our weather early spring. The foliage is full and healthy looking…hoping to get more blooms as the summer progresses. We live in Iowa with temps down to 0 to -10. I’ve never done anything to protect them in the winter. Also, I don’t prune them–even leave the flower heads over winter. Then when new growth starts, I remove the obvious dead stems. I’m a non-gardener and the Endless Summer Hydrangea have done exceedingly well under my benign neglect.

Heather's Garden July 3, 2009, 11:25 pm

I’m not exactly in a cold climate in a zone 6b, but my Endless Summer hydrangea is thriving. It’s in year 3 in my garden and has definitely moved on from sleep and creep to leap. Maybe it’s just not meant for harsh winters?
.-= Heather’s Garden´s last blog ..IT WAS A GLORIOUS DAY UNTIL… =-.

Bob Kob June 29, 2009, 6:44 pm

Has any one ever over winter their Endless Summer’s in
pots in the basment, and started them up about
March 1st under lights, and set them outside about
June 1st.

cindy June 14, 2009, 8:56 pm

Can anyone give me an answer. Both my mom and I have hydrangeas that have bloomed only once, the first year. We’ve had them for 4-5 years. They produce folliage, but no blooms. We don’t trim them. They get morning sun. The folliage is beautiful. But no blooms.

Kathy Purdy June 15, 2009, 12:51 pm

You don’t say what kind of hydrangea they are, or what kind of winter they go through. If they are a hydrangea that blooms on old wood and the winter kills off the old wood, you won’t get blooms.

Linda Tareta June 26, 2009, 6:22 pm

I have the endless summer hydrangea live in suburbs of chicago…have the same experience they bloomed 1st year but not since…what do you mean when you say “blooms on old wood”???have not heard that term before…I cut mine back in the fall to about 8 to 10 inches..they are now 2 feet or more and full, they get the morning sun till about 1:00 ish or little bit later…

Margaret Roach June 11, 2009, 5:21 pm

Confession: I have never grown a blue hydrangea. I grow the paniculata types, and used to grow arborescens ‘Annabelle,’ and grow the oakleaf or quercifolia. But no blue ones. You are a brave woman! (And I think we should name a plant ‘Endless Winter’ if this cold doesn’t stop. No freezes now, but still not any heat, either here.)

Kathy Purdy June 11, 2009, 6:00 pm

Huh. We have been in the 70s here, which is warm enough for me. And I don’t know if I’m brave or foolhardy when it comes to growing a macrophylla hydrangea. It certainly brings out the point that when it comes to hardiness, getting through the winter is only half the battle. The other half involves getting through the unsettled weather of mud season and early spring. Some plants seem to be able to do the first part but then succumb after the snow has melted.

Gwendolyn June 11, 2009, 12:29 pm

I always cover my hydrangeas– I cut them back by about half and put them under ugly styrofoam rose domes. To make sure they are really protected, I mulch the bottoms with pine needles– I’ve done this for two winters in a row and the results have been great. Slightly more blue/purple flowers and the bushes are twice as tall (4-5 feet) having been protected. But those styrofoam rose domes are definitely ugly. I leave them on until Mothers Day, just in case.

Gwendolyn’s last blog post..Lazarus Reawakened

George June 10, 2009, 9:18 pm

I purchased an ‘Endless Summer’ early this spring (mid March) and planted it outdoors (Zone 6 NJ). Luckily, the frosts we had in April didn’t seem to harm it – it’s pretty green and bushy (no flowers yet). Question for the group – does anyone know the PH level of Miracle Grow ? I used Miracle Grow when planting the hyandrangea and am curious what color the flowers will be. Hopefully in a few weeks if the sun ever comes out again !

jodi (bloomingwriter) June 9, 2009, 8:56 pm

I’ve had some unexplained demises and diebacks too, Kathy, although in my garden’s defense, I’m not here all week and I don’t know when the cold days and nights were, but I’ve certainly seen the results. Most of my hydrangeas are the hardier types, but my Endless Summer is definitely the most disappointingly overhyped shrub in the garden HERE.

jodi (bloomingwriter)’s last blog post..Interview with a Mailorder Specialist: Dugald Cameron of GardenImport

Cindy, MCOK June 9, 2009, 9:28 am

Kathy, my Oakleaf Hydrangea was just spectacular this spring. It really came into its own. The Double Forever & Ever that I bought on clearance at Lowe’s last year is another story. It’s a healthy enough plant, foliage wise, but it’s not bigger now than it was when I bought it in Spring 2008. It didn’t bloom last year and shows no sign of doing so now. I don’t know what it wants but it’s pretty clear that I’m not supplying it!

Cindy, MCOK’s last blog post..Through The Garden Gate: Monday, June 8th

Jared June 9, 2009, 7:43 am

I’ve decided this year to get rid of my two Endless Summer hydrangeas. We’d bought them to flank the front porch, but they don’t do such a good job flanking at about a foot high. I honestly consider them to be one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated on gardeners, and I’m frankly amazed that they are still being sold. I’m replacing them with divisions of Helianthus “Lemon Queen,” which do an excellent job of framing the porch at 7 feet tall.

On the other hand, my regular old-fashioned white hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens, I think) is gorgeous as usual. Cold doesn’t seem to do anything to it, and I get huge, billowing white blooms every year. Love it!

Jared’s last blog post..in bloom 6 June 2009

Kathy Purdy June 9, 2009, 9:00 am

Yes, Jared, Hydrangea arborescens is native to parts of North America and well adapted to cold. It is a great hydrangea for colder climates. As I’ve said elsewhere, if I didn’t have a sentimental attachment to the blue flowering hydrangea, I wouldn’t be growing it.

Jared June 10, 2009, 12:02 am

I understand sentiment, for sure: The reason I attempt dahlias is because my gardening inspiration, Mr. Robinson, grew them in a special garden tucked away at the back of his yard. And it wasn’t until last year that I had any luck with them!

I hope “Endless Summer” is stuffed with blossoms for you this summer!

Where did your grandmother live?

Jared’s last blog post..in bloom, 6 June 2009

Sharon in Wisconsin October 19, 2009, 2:43 pm

I agree they all don’t bloom. But I have one that is 5 years old and it was beautiful this year. It gets quite a bit of sun though. It was almost 4ft tall and wide with a fair amount of blooms. Mid season and late. Others I have in more shade , not so good.. You truely have to love them to keep them. I just keep moving them around to find where they like to show off.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter June 8, 2009, 11:41 pm

My Mopheads have buds. They were protected from that late (for me) frost by the leaves of the trees overhead, as I had already pulled the leaf mulch off them. I guess I should trim down the dead part of the branches that were exposed during the winter.

Mr. McGregor’s Daughter’s last blog post..A Solution for Floppy Peonies*

Carol, May Dreams Gardens June 8, 2009, 10:20 pm

I have some ‘Endless Summer’ Hydrangeas and will confess that I rarely cover them with mulch for the winter, and they seem to do just fine in my zone 5 garden. I don’t cut them back until spring, of course. They are currently about 18 inches tall, which is about as tall as they ever get. I also don’t try to lower the soil pH so the flowers are always pink.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens’s last blog post..Embrace Looking Goofy for a Happier Life

Kathy Purdy June 9, 2009, 8:57 am

It’s funny: I do have acid soil, but near the house the hydrangeas aren’t quite pink, aren’t quite blue, so the acid in the fertilizer helps them make up their mind. I wouldn’t think you’d need to cover them. From everything I’ve read about your garden, it seems more like a Zone 6 garden than a Zone 5. Seriously, when has it gotten below 0F lately? Mine have gotten taller than 18 inches, so I wonder if summer heat is stunting yours.