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Hydrangeas Not Blooming

My Hydrangeas did not bloom last year and it looks like they will not bloom again this year. They are in a mostly shaded area. Please help, I want blooms!

Everyone loves old fashioned hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) and why not? What’s not to love about those showy blooms?

Although hydrangeas are easy to grow they don’t always bloom as expected. And there are some common reasons for that. Let me review some of them.

The number one reason is improper pruning. Old-fashioned hydrangeas set their flowers on previous year’s growth, or what is referred to as old wood. So, in late summer and early fall, your shrub is preparing blooms for next year. In early spring, just as new growth appears, you can tidy up the plant by removing any dead wood and old flower heads. Learn more about pruning hydrangeas.

Other causes for lack of bloom include harsh winter temperatures, warm spells followed by cold weather, and late freezes. All can damage or kill tender flower buds. If you site your plants in a north or east facing area of your garden, you can reduce the chances of the buds opening during aberrant warm winter weather. These areas of the garden warm up slower than south or western exposures. Northern gardeners who know that they are in for a long cold spell can wrap their hydrangeas in burlap for winter protection. Planting the shrubs near house foundations also offers some refuge from cold temperatures.

Too much nitrogen fertilizer will result in an abundance of lovely leaves at the expense of blooms. In my Mid-south garden I fertilize my hydrangeas twice during the summer with a slow release fertilizer, usually in June and then again in August. In cooler climates this can be done once, usually in June. Follow the directions indicated on the fertilizer package.