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Fairfield County, CT
May 18, 2020 10:52 AM CST
|My hydrangea bush hasn't blossomed in about 3 years. It was here when I moved in so I'm not sure what kind it is, but it used to blossom blue hydrangeas. Any ideas why it stopped? Also, I have little trees (maples I think?) trying to come up inside the plant so I need to find a way to uproot those mixed in with the roots of the trees.
May 19, 2020 1:04 AM CST
| It could very well be that you have no blooms because of your location. Hydrangeas are very cold sensitive and a late frost can and does destroy the blooms. Many folks in colder climes cover them. As for the maples, yes, get them out ASAP. The longer you wait, the harder it will be. Luis is our expert here on hydrangeas, I'm sure he will post to help you further.
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May 19, 2020 5:07 AM CST
|Welcome to NGA, Krinkssn. Sounds like you have a mophead. There are many possible causes by this problem including, as gardenfish mentioned, the weather. You are in a rather difficult geographic location as the county borders three different USDA Zones, 5b, 6a and 6b. In all of those zones, mopheads will not bloom reliably unless you winter protect them. If you do not winter protect then winter can zap the blooms. Except when winter is very mild. Even in that case, they can break dormancy early and then you have to be vigilant of late frosts/freezes that can zap the leaves and-or the stems (but frosts rarely kill the plants). So if this hydrangea blooms only on old wood, I would definitely winter protect it. Rebloomer mopheads that bloom on old and new wood may work better than mopheads that only bloom from old wood. Or better yet, hydrangeas that bloom on new wood like Annabelle-like hydrangeas or hydrangea paniculatas.
High nitrogen fertilizers can make the plants produce nice green foliage and less & less bloomage as time passes and the soil accumulates large amounts of nitrogen. If you use fertilizers often, I would suggest switching to cottonseed meal, organic compost or composted manure. Or you can use a chemical fertilizer that is general purpose, slow release with a NPK Ratio of around 10-10-10. After the plant has become established in the garden then just mulch it and let it feed off the decomposing mulch... assuming there that your soil is not sandy (sandy soil drains water too well, has few minerals and requires fertilizing often).
Pruning at the wrong time can also cause this problem. There are mopheads that bloom only from invisible flower buds that hydrangeas develop in late Summer or early Fall. If you prune after the invisible flower buds have been developed then you cut off the Spring blooms. Newer varieties that are called rebloomer hydrangeas get around this problem by developing an additional set of invisible flower buds in late Spring and then they bloom from those around mid Summer or later.
Inconsistent watering after the invisible flower have developed can kill the flower buds at any time too so make sure the plant does not go through periods of dry soil, wet soil and dry soil again. At some point, the soil may get "too dry" and the flower buds will get aborted.
I agree that you need to remove those little trees, weeds, grass, etc. The hydrangea roots are like a pancake in the top 4" only so they do not like the competition for water and fertilizers.
The dried out stems can be removed soon if they fail to leaf out. Normally, wait until around the end of May to prune them. If nothing happens by then then carefully scratch near the bottom of the stems to see if you see green. If not, it is dead and can be pruned all the way down. Even some times when you see green, do not be surprised if the stem fails to leaf out. Normal looking stems sometimes leaf out but have internal injuries that make them look alive -for a while- and then suddenly they die.
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