The Q&A Archives: Potted Hydrangea Is Yellowing In The Low Desert

Question: I have a blue hydrangea that I potted last March while it was blooming. Now, the leaves are not the dark green that they were then, and there's no sign that it is going to bloom again. There are a lot of leaves budding, but they never quite come out of the budding stage. No one around here knows about hydrangeas, so I can't get much advice.
So, my question: What does my hydrangea need to go back to its beautiful former state?

Answer: Few people understand hydrangeas in the low desert because they are not a well-suited plant here so most nursery people won't carry them! Having said that, here's some basic info on typical care. First, even in their preferred growing habitat, it can be difficult to get hydrangeas to bloom reliably. They like to grow in well drained soil, high in organic matter (compost, leaf mould, composted cow manure, etc.) Hydrangeas prefer full sun or partial shade, but that's in their regular growing habitat, not in the low desert. You didn't mention whether yours was inside or outside. If outside, obviously it would need protection from the hot afternoon sun. If indoors, it would need bright sun, but still protection from burning in the afternoon sun. Foliage generally requires nitrogen to maintain its green color. However, overfertilization with a fertilizer high in nitrogen can cause bloom problems. This can result in a lot of vegetative growth but little to no flowering. Use a balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) to help return your foliage to a healthy state, and then switch to one that has a higher phosphorous level (the middle number, such as 5-10-5) to promote bloom.

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