Claude’s Gardening and Landscaping Forum

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Dear Claude, When is the best time to cut back hydrangeas (Annabelle), now or in spring?  Or do you just cut back the old flower heads?

Looking forward to your answers.

From Erika

I usually cut my Annabelle hydrangeas in the spring, the reason being the stems act as a snow catcher which in turn will insulate your tender perennials that you might have around them.  I also leave any perennials that have a strong stem and cut them back in the spring.  It also makes for a good habitat for overwintering insects.

Some other thoughts…

I was thinking about the mild weather we’ve been having this fall and what effect it would have on my gardens over the coming winter. Well first, I need to check if my evergreens have had enough water to get through the winter.  Evergreens still transpire through their leaves when the winter sun warms them up, so it’s important for them to have sufficient water to get them through. 

Then there are tender perennials that may need some insulation to protect them from the cold, but that has to wait until the ground freezes. Mice and moles are looking for a comfy spot to live over the winter right now and mulching and covering your tender plants before the ground freezes is an open invitation for them to settle in and munch on the stems, sometimes causing irreparable damage.

It’s also a good idea to wrap the trunk of fruit trees to avoid these little critters chewing on the tasty bark under the snow.

Hope this helps you with the upcoming cold weather!  I’m sure I’ll think of other suggestions before the winter really settles in!

To seek advice from Gardening and Landscaping expert Claude Smith, email your question to [email protected]. 

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