The Q&A Archives: Non-Blooming Hydrangeas

Question: I have 3 hydrangea bushes planted in partial shade. Two different varieties. None of them bloom. The plants keep getting bigger but produce only one or two blossoms each year. (The bushes are 4 yrs. old now.) I cut them back last fall as they were very big & I thought that would help. But this summer, I had no blooms at all! Pretty sad for such a lovely-blooming plant. Help me out here please. Cathy

Answer: The most common reasons for non-blooming hydrangeas are 1) A late spring freeze can ruin the developing bloom buds. The freeze may be light and even go unnoticed until one realizes that the blooms are not forming. Or it may kill all the emerging leaves, too.

Most flower buds develop on the old stems. Once these stems are damaged in a late freeze, new flowers will not appear until the following year and only then if it is a milder spring. (This is the rule for the vast majority of mopheads [macrophyllas] but there are exceptional hydrangeas such as Endless Summer that will bloom despite this damage)

2) Improper pruning. Most hydrangea types bloom on OLD WOOD. (Stems are called "old wood" if they have been on the hydrangea since the summer before the current one.) This means that flowers are formed on the stems of hydrangeas around August, September or October for the following spring. If those stems are removed (pruned) in the fall, winter, or spring, the bloom buds will be removed, and there can be little or no bloom that year.

3) Wrong Zone. Big Leaf hydrangeas bloom on old wood. If your plants consistently freeze down to ground level each year, they may never produce flowers. You may want to replace them with a type that blooms on both old and new wood. Endless Summer is one such hydrangea and grows wonderfully well in your gardening zone.

Hope this information helps you determine just why your hydrangeas are not blooming!

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by Paul2032 and is called "Coreopsis"