Pruning Hydrangeas in Winter: Smart Move or Amateur Mistake?

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that the weather was perfect to do some gardening. So I put on my snow boots and winter coat, grabbed a shovel and some pruning shears, and went outside for my annual Annabelle hydrangea pruning. You know, in the snow and ice and freezing cold. Is there such a thing as having a white thumb (instead of a green or black one) for gardening in winter? If this risky landscaping move works, I’m going to declare winter gardening (and a new trend.
Normally I would prune our hydrangeas in autumn, but since we had a baby at the end of last summer, garden maintenance wasn’t really at the forefront of our minds for the next few months. So the hydrangeas were left to get a little wild as fall turned into winter.
I’ve heard that Annabelle hydrangeas can be pruned anytime between autumn and early spring because they bloom on new wood. So I decided to put it to the ultimate test and try pruning them in the dead of winter this year. That’s not crazy, right?
Before starting to prune, I had to dig the bushes out a bit since they were buried in a huge snowdrift. I wanted to cut down the branches to about 18 inches from the ground, so I used a small shovel to clear snow from the areas I wanted to prune.
When I had shoveled enough to be able to see what I had to work with, I started trimming. Some of the branches were still bent down and buried under the snow, so I pulled these out to prune them.
Once I pruned everything down to about 18 inches, I collected all the trimmed branches and put them in a yard bag for pickup later on in spring.
We’ve had a cold and snowy February here in the Midwest, so when things warm up and melt a little, I’ll check if any stray stems were hiding under the snow.
I'm crossing my fingers that I haven’t killed our gorgeous Annabelle hydrangea with this winter pruning. What do you think – will Annabelle survive?

Rather Square
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2 of 4 comments
  • Rather Square Rather Square on May 05, 2015
    Update: the hydrangeas are leafing and budding beautifully! New post to come soon, but so far everything is looking good.

  • Betty Sides Betty Sides on May 06, 2015
    I don't have any in my yard, but I want a couple. I love that they can be blue or pink or purple or white or probably other colors. I have purchased some but haven't put them out yet, when should I put them out and what direction, I live in Texas.