I used to wonder why my hydrangea wouldn’t bloom.
Do you have that problem with your hydrangeas? I did a little research, well ok then I did a LOT of research which I am sharing with you today. Hopefully, it will save you years of waiting on blooms.
Living in the deep south, we are treated to gorgeous floral showcases every spring and summer. Crepe myrtle and hydrangea are among my favorite showy displays. I have both in my yard and have had to learn proper care of them through the years.
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My Hydrangea Would Not Bloom
My hydrangea simply would not bloom and for the life of me, I could not understand why. I nursed it throughout hot, humid summers every year. Hydrangeas require shade and lots of water, I have provided both along with organic additions to the soil. I was also cutting it back every winter. Notice the photo below, it just sticks in the wintertime. I was confident those needed to be cut back. WRONG!
DO NOT CUT BACK YOUR HYDRANGEA! That is the one thing I was doing wrong. While it may seem natural to cut back, don’t do it.
Certain types of Hydrangea bloom from the old shoots! Why in the world I didn’t research it sooner is beyond me. I had been cutting mine all the way back for a few years so I think it may take it a few years for the old wood to really produce nice big flowers.
You need to know if your particular type of hydrangea does not need to be pruned. When in doubt, don’t do it.
Pruning is ok when done properly. I read to never prune more than 1/3 of the hydrangea in any given year. Some resources I read actually do say to cut the hydrangea all the way back BUT that advice is only good for a particular type of hydrangea.
There are always variables. Learn the correct method for your type of hydrangea and your geographical location. I have provided a list of resources at the end of this post.
The above photo is very early spring when the first leaves are just beginning to appear. Notice all the oak leaves on the ground for natural compost. Our soil is terrible and that is putting it mildly.
We have more sand than good dirt so composting is essential. Raking leaves into my flower beds is one of my favorite things to do. We usually also pile on new pine straw once per year on top of the leaves.
Last year was the first time we had a few pretty flowers but still not quite enough to create a bouquet for drying to use in the house. The above photo was taken in late summer when the flower bed had become the ‘Garden of Weeding’. There are always weeds to pull. We like to keep our birdfeeders full so the birds drop seeds which sprout up all sorts of weeds and wildflowers in all the wrong places.
Update: We sold this house and never did get to see our big beautiful hydrangea in full bloom. It really did take years for it to recuperate from being cut back for several years. Now I know.
Also See: How We Sold Our House In One Week
The above photo is one of the flowers on my Variegated Hydrangea. I love the variegated leaves on any plant. It looks like God put streaks in their hair!
My hydrangea advise
- Don’t cut your hydrangea down to the ground!
- Most hydrangeas bloom from the old wood, so never prune more than 1/3 of the hydrangea each year
- Research the proper care of your particular type of hydrangea
Resources for Hydrangea Lovers
- Get this book, (Amazon), Heavenly Hydrangeas: A Practical Guide for the Home Gardener. It has 5 star reviews and covers all things Hydrangea.
- Better Homes & Gardens (this article address pruning specifically)
- Match your learning to the actual plant by browsing these live hydrangea plants for sale on Amazon.