Jmcmanus
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My hydrangea has not bloomed in 2 years. Please help!

Does anyone know why this once beautiful plant will not bloom anymore?[/list]

Jmcmanus
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Picture of problem hydrangea

Can someone please tell me how to attach a picture?[/list]

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Kisal
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Hello, and welcome to the forum! :)

Click on the following link to find instructions for how to post pictures, as well as a lot of other helpful information from our webmaster. :)

http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=23
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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hendi_alex
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Where do you live, what zone?
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

luis_pr
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Hydrangeas that do not bloom reliably may do so because they are planted out of zone and need winter protection. The dried out stems in your plant photos indicate that last year's stems dried out during winter because the plant was not hardy enough. Dried out stems can be pruned if they do not leaf out by mid to late June so feel free to do that now.

When the stems dry out, the roots do not necessarily die and in this case you get a plant that leafs out by producing new stems from the base or crown. That is not a problem with hydrangeas that re-bloom (like the Endless Summer and Forever & Ever Series). But if the plant does not re-bloom, you basically end up with a plant that returns every year from the ground, has nice green leaves and produces no or few blooms.

Since hydrangea flower buds reside at the end of the stems, when the stems die, there go the flowers. In "warm" winters, the stems may survive or some stems may survive thus allowing you to see some bloomage but, if you want to get blooms [u]reliably[/u], you need to winter protect the stems just as the plant goes dormant in the Fall.

There are several techniques used to accomplish this and the most common one involves putting chicken wire around the existing bush, say 3-6 inches away from the tips of the stems. Measure the width and height. If the shrub is 2' tall and 3' wide, get chicken wire that is 3-6" taller and wider than the hydrangea. The more distance between the end of the stems and the chicken wire, the more protection the plant stems get. And if the stems are happy and warm, the flower buds will be too.

Fill the empty space with leaves from the garden. Pack them in tight. Unused leaves can be kept in a trash bag. Use these unused leaves in mid winter if/when settling occurs. You can obtain the leaves from your garden or ask you neighbors to give you theirs. I have heard of some people also using mulch and hay. Some people add a piece of cardboard on top of the chicken wire (not on top of the leaves). This helps prevent loosing leaves on windy days and allows you to peek under the cardboard and see if the leaves are settling. The cardboard can be kept in place with heavy rocks. Snow acts as a cover and protects from the cold temperatures so you can let a certain amount on the cardboard but not much (it may start to bend with time).

To minimize the chance of damage to the stems, do not overfertilize and do not feed late in the growing season. Hydrangeas do not need much fertilizer and you can skip it some years and not notice a thing. Stop applying fertilizers in July so the plant is ready for winter when Fall arrives. In the northern states, you can feed the plant 1/2 cup to 1 cup of manure/compost/cottonseed meal in June. In the southern states, you can feed it twice a year, in May and July because the growing season is longer. But stop all forms of fertilizers around July.

Mulch is also important as it helps the plant have consistently moist soil and protects the roots during winter so keep 3-4" of mulch and check it once or twice a year.

Does this help you?
Luis

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Diane
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It helps me. You're describing my plants. Do the plants get weaker with age? Because they did so well for years I wonder what has changed.
I cut off all the old dead wood. There are buds on the stems now. I put down mulch, something I never did before.
Thank you for all of the tips Luis.
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luis_pr
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As the saying goes, all things being equal, no they should not get weaker with age. Hydrangeas should last for decades. Macrophyllas need some rejuvenation pruning when they begin to age and produce smaller and less blooms but this is something one does every 5-10 years to stems that are that many years old. In your case, you would have brand new stems growing up from the base or crown so no rejuvenation is needed.

You could do a soil check just to make sure the soil is not defficient in some minerals or has too much of others (nitrogen for example) but, if the soil had problems, you would also have noticed problems with other nearby plants as well.

In some rare cases, there can be micro-climates that make such a change happen. At first, a small hydrangea could experience normal blooming. Its small height and width keep it protected from winter winds as other larger shrubs in the garden protect it. But as the hydrangea grows and overtakes/surpasses the other shrubs, it no longer receives winter protection from other shrubs and the drying/dessicating winds begin to dry out the hydrangea stems. Resulting in fewer or no blooms.

Another example of a microclimate would be if there was something that worked as a barrier to protect the plant. Say, a larger evergreen bush or even a wooden fence. These objects would block the winds to a certain level. But, if you remove them, the hydrangea not receive wind protection any longer.

Luis
Last edited by luis_pr on Fri Sep 18, 2009 11:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rainbowgardener
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great posts, Luis, very helpful.

I think you are getting to be our resident hydrangea expert!

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Sharon Marie
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Location: Jeffersonville, IN

I have about a 4X3 area that I transplanted a climbing rose bush. I would like to plant a hydrangea there - next to it is a hosta (under the dogwood tree) and on the otherside is a small japanese andromeda bush. The area gets lots of morning sun and afternoon shade. I am worried the area is too small - and the bush will take over my other plants. What do you think?
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luis_pr
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Location: Hurst, TX USA Zone 7b/8a

Well, hydrangeas can be large shrubs so yes, you have to pay attention to the "size at maturity" (translation: at 10 years) that is advertised on the hydrangea label or the advertised size on websites.

Consider these dwarfs: the Cityline Series (Vienna, Berlin for example), Pia (also known as Pink Elf), Masja and the Forever & Ever Early Sensation. Weird as it is, these are sometimes referred to as dwarfs although I do not know... I would never call a 3'x3' shrub a "dwarf". But I guess some people do since these are some of the "smallest" hydrangeas. There are bound to be others so let's see if someone else chimes in. Always check the zone number since you are near the borderline for macrophyllas and because some nurseries may carry shrubs for one zone warmer than yours.

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