Why Don’t My Hydrangeas Bloom?

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The one garden question that I get at all times of the year is ”why don’t my hydrangeas bloom?”   There are some things that the gardener needs to know before the answer becomes clear. First, he has to know what type of hydrangea he is trying to grow. There are four main types:  Mophead, oakleaf, paniculata and snowball. Mopheads , the first type, are easy to identify as they bloom pink, blue or purple. Oakleaf hydrangeas, the second type of hydrangeas are also easy because they have a distinctive oak-like leaf and pointed, rather than rounded blooms. They always bloom white.

These first two types of hydrangeas are pruned they same way. They bloom on last year’s wood, which means that the flower buds are formed in August to bloom the next summer, usually June and July. So, pruning in the fall, early spring or late summer can take off flower buds. The best time to prune this type of hydrangea is before August just as flowers are fading in mid to late July.

The third type of hydrangea is the Pee Gee hydrangea or paniculata. This is the largest of the hydrangeas and is often pruned to grow as a small tree. The blooms are creamy white and fade to a greenish brown. Pee Gee or paniculata types can be pruned in the fall, winter or spring because they flower on the new stems. They only time they can’t be pruned is in the summer, just before they bloom. It isn’t necessary to prune every year.

The fourth type of hydrangea is the snowball type. This plant flowers in the spring (they’re getting ready to bloom now) and starts out as a green flower, gradually turning to a white bloom. The snowball also blooms on new stems (the new year’s growth) and can be pruned in the fall winter or summer. It should not be pruned just before it flowers in the spring.

If you’re still having problems with getting your hydrangeas to bloom, the weather or planting site could be a factor. Hydrangeas like morning sun with some afternoon shade. They also like a little protection from winter winds so planting close to the house would help. Flower buds from the first two types can get frozen in extremely cold weather. The plant will survive but not the flower buds.

So, now you have the tools necessary for pruning your hydrangea and getting those fabulous flowers, no matter which type you have. If you need additional assistance, give our office a call at 439-4460.

Written By

Photo of Donna Teasley, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionDonna TeasleyExtension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture (828) 439-4460 Donna_Teasley@ncsu.eduBurke County, North Carolina
Posted on Jun 6, 2014
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