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Why is My Hydrangea Not Blooming?

Hydrangea flowers are some of the most stunning, dramatic blooms out there. Their huge globe-shaped flowers in bright blue, pink, white, or green put on an amazing show all summer long, and you can dry them and use them in arrangements to preserve their beauty in the colder seasons. But what if your prized hydrangea just won’t bloom? It’s more common than you might think, and there are a number of factors that can cause blooming to be stunted. Don’t worry, though, this guide will help you identify and fix the problem and, before you know it, your hydrangea will be bursting with vibrant flowers.

why is my hydrangea not blooming?

Soil

The soil hydrangeas are planted in has a huge effect on what their flowers do, so much so that you can control what color they turn by changing the acidity of the soil. If a hydrangea isn’t blooming at all, it may be because its soil is too rich in nitrogen. You can reduce the amount of nitrogen in your soil by mulching with sawdust or wood chips or planting nitrogen-loving plants like cabbage, squash, or corn nearby. An excess of nitrogen in the soil may also be due to the fertilizer being used on or near the hydrangea, which brings us to…

hydrangea growing in a container

Too Much Fertilizer

Fertilizing hydrangeas too often makes them spend most of their energy on producing big, healthy leaves and not flowers. Either fertilize once in spring and once in mid-summer, or use a time-released fertilizer once in the spring only. More than that can stunt blooming.

Newly Planted Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas in their first or second year of being planted often will not give out blooms. This is because they are focusing the majority of their energy on growing a good root system to keep them strong and healthy in their new location. This is a good thing! Be patient with your hydrangeas and give them a year or two before you expect them to bloom.

how to get a hydrangea to bloom

Pruning Incorrectly

Hydrangeas don’t require pruning, but in some cases it can promote blooming and give you a better display. However, incorrect pruning of hydrangeas is the most common cause of blooming problems because if you prune at the wrong time you can easily end up removing the early buds before they mature (more on correct pruning times here).

Hydrangea varieties fall into three different pruning categories: old growth (Hydrangea macrophylla), new growth (Hydrangea arborescens and Hydrangea paniculata), and Endless Summer series hydrangeas. Endless Summer and old growth hydrangeas should be pruned as soon as the flowers begin to fade. New growth plants should be pruned back in late winter or early spring. Find out which type of hydrangea you have and prune accordingly. If you are unsure of what type of hydrangea you have, skip pruning altogether and see if that helps it to bloom.

Winter Winds

Sometimes hydrangeas are vulnerable to wind during the coldest months and need to be insulated over winter. You can protect them with a chicken-wire cage or stakes supporting a burlap wrap. Add fallen leaves or straw in between the plant and the wrap or cage for insulation.

blue ball hydrangea in bloom

The Wrong Location

If your hydrangea is getting too much shade, that may be why it isn’t blooming. Hydrangeas want partial shade, but they also need about 4 hours of dappled sun per day. Try transplanting to a sunnier spot if your hydrangea is in the dark all day.

Hydrangeas also need a lot of moisture, especially in the first one or two years. Plant them in soil that does not dry out completely, or else water daily in the summer.

Last, but not least, make sure you are picking hydrangea varieties that are appropriate for your zone. Just because one hydrangea does not work for you doesn’t mean that there isn’t another variety that will thrive in your climate.

Want to Know More About Hydrangeas?

Comments

  1. My hydrangeas have not bloomed for three years should I cut them to the ground I’m in zone 6 they are about 7 years old. I may get one flower.

    Reply
  2. I have a Hydrangea that I got over 30 years ago! It never bloomed. I used to fertilize with phosphorus every year in spring and that didn’t work. I never fertilized it again. One year (only once!) the shrub was loaded with blooms. I never pruned it either in the spring or the fall. This year it bloomed with only a few flowers. I was so delighted that I cut a few. The blossoms lasted for about a week before dying. At this point (late July) there are only about 4 blossoms left.
    I know some varieties bloom on old wood and some one new wood. I don’t know what variety this one is. I only have one of these. Can you recommend a solution for this one?

    Anyway, back to the Endless Summer. A couple of years ago I pruned my Endless Summer plants in early spring and it didn’t bloom. I guess that tells me that they bloom on old wood. yes?
    I also read an advise on how to correct blooms that go limp after picking. Supposedly you’re supposed to dunk them in boiling water when they do limp. I’ll try it. Who knows? It might work. I cut tons of Endless Summer a couple of times this year (late July) and they went limp immediately.
    I hope you can help me. I hope to hear from you.

    Reply
  3. I have the same problem, hydrangeas not blooming! most are 7-18 yrs old and a few suddenly stopped blooming. We stopped fertilizing around them, thinking that would resolve the problem! 3 yrs later very few blooms. I don’t prune, We had a very harsh winter in the midwest this last yr. I have a “bits of lace” nowhere on it does it say lace cap and I can’t find one with the colors of mine but ny neighbors cut a huge tree down 7-8 yrs ago which gave the hottest sun of the day! We dug it up and moved it and haven’t had a bloom since. LOL, I keep thinking I will throw the towel in on it but haven’t yet! My Big Leaf and Endless summer aren’t blooming either! Anyway my question is… are the soil testers from Lowes or Menards accurate? It shows no color on Nitrogen, very low on Phos (bought second kit showed deep purple on Phos) both show very high K+. I’m really at a loss as to what to do! I guess I will go to the garden center, I have 2 family owned favorites that might know what to try. I don’t trust so many of them that just hire summer help!
    Thanks and happy gardening
    Brenda

    Reply

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