Saturday, November 19, 2011

How do I get my Hydrangea to bloom? Had it 8 years and only bloomed once. HELP!!?

The plants are large and green and healthy, just never blooms

How do I get my Hydrangea to bloom? Had it 8 years and only bloomed once. HELP!!?
Hydrangeas of any species should be planted in the spring time after the fear of last frost or in the fall well before the night time temperatures flirt with 32 degrees. If planting in the fall you should avoid high doses of fertilizer as you do not want soft growth while entering into winter. You are best off using a water soluble fertilizer at ¼ strength and only apply it twice after fall planting. Planting of hydrangeas should be done 45-60 days before the first expected freeze.

The soil should be rich in organic matter and drain well. Avoid planting in highly sandy soils and heavy clay soil. Amend the sandy soil with aged compost and only plant on or near clay if the water will drain away.

Feed your hydrangeas! Hydrangeas are greedy plants and do best when fed enough during the early to middle part of the growing season. I suggest a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote slow release with minors. An N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10 is fine. This feed can be purchased through my website or at home depot for roughly $5.00 per pound. Aged manure is excellent for adjusting your soil but has a very small kick as far as the N-P-K requirements are concerned. Using aged manure (fresh manure will burn plants) in combination with a slow release fertilizer is ideal if your soil is poor to begin with.

I can't state enough the importance of regular irrigation both after planting and 5 years later even after the hydrangea is established. Newly planted hydrangeas should be watered well once a day if planted in a shadier spot and twice a day if planted in more sun for the first two to three weeks. Really babying them pays off. Established plants really shine if pampered with regular irrigation. I have my display garden on a daily watering cycle for the first half of the growing season and every third day after the heat of August has passed. I stop irrigating and let nature take over in early September.

Propagating hydrangeas top

Hydrangeas are one of the easiest shrubs to duplicate by tip cuttings and layering. Both techniques will be described below starting with tip cuttings.

Take a 4-6" cutting from the tip of a hydrangea in active growth. Rapid growing stems (soft wood) make for better cuttings than late season (semi hard wood) cuttings do. The cutting should have 4-6 sets of bud axilles with the cut in the stem

Remove the foliage from the bottom set of buds and cut the top leaves in half. By removing the bottom foliage and reducing the top foliage by ½, you will be limiting the surface area from which moisture can be removed from the cutting.

Prepare your soiless medium. I use 70% perlite and 30% peat moss. Mix the two products together and fill in your rooting container. You can use a small plastic pot or any type of small container that has a drainiage hole in it. Soak the medium and allow the water to run off.

Dip the cutting in rooting hormone if desired (I don't use the rooting hormone as it is not necessary for hydrangeas) the hormone will increase the rooting time by 5-7 days. Using a pencil, dibble a hole in your rooting medium and place the cutting in roughly 2" and softly pack the medium back in and around the hydrangea stem.

Place the container in an area where there will be no direct light, no wind and no heavy shade. Some people place the container in a clear plastic bag with coat hangers or wood sticks fashioned as a mini greenhouse. This process locks in moisture and also raises the temperature. 70-75 degrees is perfect for successful rooting. Too high of a temperature will cook your cuttings and too low of a temperature will slow the rooting process allowing all of the possible mis-haps to occur while struggling to form roots.

That first soaking should last for a while. Do not overwater. Once the top of the rooting medium looks like it is starting to dry out you can apply more water. Too much water will rot your cuttings and too little water will cause the leaves to droop and eventually die out. In the correct environment, your cuttings should root out in 3-5 weeks depending on weather or not you used a rooting hormone. Tugging on the cutting lightly in three weeks time you may feel some resistance. Wait 3-5 more days and transplant to a larger container. If the cutting pops right up, just leave it alone and check it out in another week. Once transplanted, do not allow the cutting to be placed in direct all day sun. For the first few days place the new plant in morning sun for an hour or so and increase the exposure an hour every day after the first three days by an hour until the plant is able to adjust itself to the full exposure.

1st year hydrangeas should not be expected to overwinter in a frozen state. They must be babied a bit and not allowed to freeze solid as this will more than likely kill them. I have killed thousands of cuttings in the past. Failure is ok as you must try again. In the north, you must place the hydrangea in an area where it will not freeze. After the first winter has passed there is usually enough mass to the stems to survive the second winter exposed to the elements.

Layering hydrangeas top

Working with an existing hydrangea already planted in your landscape or a freshly planted hydrangea of your choosing, layering is an easy and more successful method of propagating then is softwood tip cuttings as previously written about. Each method has it's own benefits. When using the tip cutting method you can reproduce 100's even 1000's of hydrangea cuttings in a relatively small space. When propagating by the layering method you can only get a few plants per stem. While tip cuttings need an aftificial environment to survive, the layering method can be done right there in the natural setting.

Pick a hydrangea shrub in late spring to early summer that has fresh stem growth (green stems). Pull an outside stem to the ground making sure that it will reach and can actually be bent a little further down. Measure out a 6-12" section of the stem that you know will be underground (this is determined when you bend the stem over at the beginning) and mark the beginning and end with a pen or marker.

Make a cut 1/8th of an inch deep and an inch long and leave it attached on one end or just simply make a scratch in the stem an 1/8th of an inch deep and an inch long. Both methods accomplish the same thing. When you injure a hydrangea stem the plants survival instinct takes over and speeds up the rooting process.

Assuming that the surrounding garden soil is good, dig a pre-alligned 6-12" trench that is roughly 2-3" deep.

Pull the ready stem over and press it against the bottom of the trench while backfilling the trench with the other hand firmly packing the soil down. Water well. Place a brick or rock over the buried stem and forget about it and go on to another hydrangea. 1 shrub can produce many new plants this way. Every stem can be used without doing any harm to the plant.

Even though the stem will root out in 1-2 months you are best off leaving it right there until the following spring. Your first thought is "who wants to wait that long"? but since you can't leave a first year tip cutting out during the winter anyway, you can leave a first year layered hydrangea stem out during the winter as long as it is still attached to the mother plant. When you dig the new plant up in the spring you will have very strong shrub that will grow rapidly and more than likely flower the first season.

In the spring dig a small hole around the stem back closer to the mother plant and make a cut in the stem with pruners seperating your new hydrangea from the mother. With a small hand shovel, dig out a 6-8" wide and deep circular hole around the stem and pull up your prize and be ready to transplant to a pot or another are in the garden.

If you have the room and long enough canes on your hydrangea you may do what is called the serpintene method where you burry the lower section as decribed before in the layering method of propagation and bring the stem back up again and down again and back up once. This allows you to produce two plants out of one stem.

Pruning hydrangeas top

There has been much confusion over the years about when to prune or not prune. To make it as simple as possible each species will be listed below along with the correct method for pruning that particular species.

Macrophylla (mophead)

Roughly 98% of hydrangea macrophylla flowers off of old wood. This means that next years flowers are being formed on this years branches. The flowers for next season are usually being formed during and after flowering. My advice is to not prune this species but to purchase the right size variety for the particular area to be planted. Don't buy a 6' tall and wide Nikko Blue to go under a 4' window box. There are so many varieties available that you should be able to find a suitable hydrangea for even the smaller areas of your landscape. A general rule of thumb is the further down you prune a hydrangea macrophylla, the less flowers will form the following season. The other 2% that are the exception to this rule are hydrangea macrophylla 'Endless Summer, 'Penny Mac' and 'All Summer Beauty'. These fantastic varieties flower off of new wood as well as old wood. No matter if you have a severe winter or late frost that would normally damage flower buds, the new growth will contain flower buds that can't be destroyed unless you dry the plant out severely.

Serrata, involucrata and aspera

These species should be treated the same as macrophyllas as far as pruning is concerned. Choose the hydrangea with the ultimate finished height and spread in mind and don't prune to make a hydrangea fit an area that is too small.

Paniculata and arborescens

Both of these species of hydrangea flower off of new growth. Pruning is suggested. While you don't have to be quite this exacting, the following guidelines are what I suggest for best results. In the early spring, before new growth emerges past 2-3 inches, prune your pee gees and or arborescens in half. If the shrub is 4' tall, prune down to 2' tall. This encourages vigorous growth and great structure. You may prune all the way down to 6" nubs if you wish. This will cause rapid growth and enormous flowers which will usually flop over in high wind or the first heavy rain. No pruning at all will result in less vigorous growth and smaller flowers. I have found that pruning down by ½ of the previous seasons growth to be the happy medium. An old overgrown pee gee that is not performing may need to be severely pruned down hard to encourage new shoots and rejuvenate the entire plant.

Anomala petiolaris

Climbers do not need to be pruned. Their growth tends to seem stunted in the early stages however, rapid growth will ensue after the 3rd or 4th year. Pruning can be done if you wish to stop a certain direction of growth.

Altering the flower color of hydrangeas top

The most exciting aspect of hydrangeas is the wide array of beautiful flowers in so many different colors and shades. The fact that you can manipulate the colors only adds to the overall attraction of these garden treasures. There are many different tricks one can use to alter flower color such as pennies and nails stuck in the soil but I will keep it simple and just suggest one recipe for blueing hydrangeas and one for making the flower color lighter or pinker. To go from dark blue or purple to pink and or from pink to blue or purple can take from 3-6 months depending on the soils ph and the amount of aluminum present in the soil. Be patient and plan ahead. Knowing the pH of your soil is helpful but not necessary. Most growers will grow their hydrangeas in a soil that is slightly acidic to near neutral because this is where hydrangeas will take up the most nutrients and perform the best as far as growth is concerned. This is the reason why you may have purchased a specific variety of hydrangea in the past with a certain color in mind only to have the blue hydrangea open pink. If you know your soil is generally acidic then you will need to apply the aluminum sulphate lightly, roughly ½ as often as I recommend for a neutral soil. Dropping your soils pH too far can result in reducing your plants ability to take up nutrients causing poor performance and even death. Don't apply more aluminum sulphate than is recommended.

To blue your hydrangea

In a 1 gallon watering can filled with warm water mix in 1 heaping tablespoon of aluminum sulphate and stir well until the crystals are disolved. Avoiding the foliage, apply the entire gallon of solution slowly to the ground on and around the hydrangea. I water the hydrangea 1 hour before applying aluminum sulphate. This helps to avoid run off of the solution. I then pour one half of the solution and wait a few minutes before applying the rest. Start this application in early spring, before active growth if you need to play catch up, and repeat every 20-30 days until flowering. Once the flowers open you will be able to determine weather or not the desired results have been reached. If not, continue to apply the solution through the flowering of the plant and twice after the flowers have finished. After this you should stop for the winter and start in again in the spring. If you were close to the desired color the year before then you should only apply the solution every 35-40 days until flowering occurs. To maintain that level of pH, you will only need to apply aluminum sulphate 3 times a year or less after reaching the correct level. A pH tester can be purchased at home depot or any garden center and is really useful in determining when and how much aluminum sulphate to apply. You can also purchase aluminum sulphate at home depot as well. I also offer aluminum sulphate through the website and can ship it to arrive with your plants. The desired pH level for blueing hydrangeas is somewhere in the low 5's. 5.2-5.8 is where I experience great blues and purples. Fertilizer does have slight effects on the overall results but, if an even fertilizer is used, The desired results can be achieved without confusing things any further.

To lighten or pink a hydrangea

Success in doing this will depend on the variety of hydrangea as some varieties will simply not lighten to pink. You will also need to raise the pH. In doing this you will stop the hydrangea from taking up any naturally occuring aluminum present in the soil and therefore, stopping the blueing process. Lime is the best way for the home owner to raise the pH level. Add dolomitic lime 3-4 times a year starting in the early spring or even the previous fall. Applying a fertilizer high in phosphorus will aid in keeping aluminum out of your hydrangeas system. On the bag you will see the n-p-k ratio. Phosphorus is the middle number. You will want a fertilizer with an elevated level of phosphorus such as 10-20-10. Foundation plantings are often exposed to higher levels of lime due to the cement foundation itself leaching it out over time. If you are planting up next to the house, you may not need to add anything to the soil for pink flowers. Remember, some varieties will not go pink. In each description of the varieties that I offer I state the color range you will experience.

Transplanting hydrangeas top

The best time to transplant hydrangeas is when the hydrangea is dormant. During this period, you may transplant at any time. Even a mature shrub will need to be babied after transplanting. Irrigate as you would any newly planted shrub. Dig as large a rootball as you think you can handle while leaving fully grown hydrangea transplanting to a landscaper or gardener. The larger the rootball, the less stress and root disturbance will occur resulting in a higher rate of success. If you must move hydranges during the spring or fall after active growth has begun, you can call me toll free at 1-888-642-1333 and we can discuss your individual circumstances to determine the best plan of attack. During this time success rates drop sharply.

Why won't my hydrangeas bloom? top

There are many reason for a hydrangea to fail to bloom. I will start with the most common reasons and go from there.

I have found that the most common reason for lack of blooms is pruning at the wrong time during the season and eliminating the flower buds. My advice is to not prune your hydrangeas other than simple removal of spent flowers which will be pruned off just below the flower itself at the next lower set of buds. You may prune the tops of your hydrangeas after the active growth begins in spring and it is obvious what is dead and what is not. Be careful because even now I am still speculating that certain buds are dead only to notice a few weeks later that the bud I thought was dead is now a stem in active growth. Remember that paniculatas and arborescens can be pruned as they flower off of new growth. There are also some varieties of macrophylla that bloom off of new wood and can be pruned in late season. Those varieties are 'All Summer Beauty', 'Penny Mac' and 'Endless Summer'. It is these hydrangeas that are confusing everybody as to what, when and where to prune or not prune. Don't put yourself in a situation where you are forced to prune. Be patient in the spring and wait for all buds to return before pruning the tips.

Too cold of a climate for successful hydrangea flowering. If you are in zone 5 you will not have luck with 95% of the available mopheads on the market. If your neighbors do not have hydrangeas, other than pee gees or annabelles, you are more than likely in too cold of an area for successful bud return. What confuses things is that the climate seems to be changing and zone lines may shift from year to year. We also are experiencing el nino every 7 years or so and this is causing variations in our winters from mild one year to severe the next year. While the hydrangeas will grow like crazy and give you lots of great foliage, the buds will always burn in a normal zone 5 winter.

Planted in heavy shade. Too much shade can be a cause of non flowering simply because of the lack of energy from the sun. You will notice less flowers gradually as the years go on. Transplant to a sunnier location.

Severe dry spells the season before can and does cause the hydrange to not flower. This can be avoided by choosing a location that is not too sunny and by adding some sort of irrigation system.

While some soils can be so poor as to cause growth and flowering problems, the above 4 reasons are the main causes of a non flowering hydrangea.
Reply:Contact your local garden center. i believe they are acid loving and require acid to bloom. I just can't be sure though. Most garden centers or landscape centers will have the answer for you.

How do I keep a hydrangea red? I'm in zone 6, and i believe it's acidic soil.?

Alkaline soils produce the pink colours in hydrangeas and acidic soils make them blue coloured.

You just have to make your soil alkaline by adding lime. Follow the directions on the packet carefully you don't want to overdo it. You can buy a cheap PH test which will tell you whether the soil is alkaline or acid. You can use this in the garden regularly to check and see PH and if you need to alter for some plants.

You can buy red hydrangea macrophylla. The trick is to buy a dark coloured flowered plant even dark blue, once the soil is alkaline the plant will flower dark hot pink/red. Always pick the darkest flower colour you can to get the dark colours, and look for red flowering varieties such as 'sunset' and 'Geoffrey Chadbund'.

The reddest ones I've seen are not fire engine red but very dark red pinks, but every year more darker varieties are becoming available.

How do I keep a hydrangea red? I'm in zone 6, and i believe it's acidic soil.?
There are five main species but I'm assuming you mean Hydrangea macrophylla. Alkaline soil, high pH produces a pinkish color, whereas the the blue comes from acidic soils.

The "pink" is not really a pretty pink. I'm wondering if you are thinking about the PeeGee Hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata. The flower heads are a bit different.....PeeGee is slightly conical and tinged pink.
Reply:Tea bags, coffee grounds, Epsom salts for blue. Rusty nails, or copperas for pink/red. Have fun.
Reply:Go to a plant store and find "Sunset Western Garden book" the really thick one and look it up, it will tell you what to do, It has tons of great info. Just look under hydrangea in the index.

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My hydrangea bush is starting to bud, do I cut it back, or leave it alone?

Hello To You,

I got my start 5 years ago by reading all I could from this site;

I have 14 hydrangeas now, and could have never learned as much as I did, as fast as I have, with-out those guys at the gardenweb.

Hope this helps, and have fun!


My hydrangea bush is starting to bud, do I cut it back, or leave it alone?
Thanks so much. The web site is great! Report It

Reply:You're very welcome!

When I bought my first hydrangea, I wanted more.

When I found that whole site, I went to bed many nights late because there was so much stuff there, and once I had seen how to propagate hydrangeas, I had them all over the place.

Have Fun!

Dave Report It

Reply:Never prune a hydrangea until after it blooms. The flowers only grow on old growth ( from the year before ). The one exception that I've heard of is the Peegee hydrangea. It only blooms on new growth.
Reply:Prune flowering shrubs immediately after they are done blooming, before they set they buds for next year. I like cut flowers, so I shape my shrubs as I go. The exception is the azaeleas that are not good cut flowers. I trim them while the wilted flower is still on the shrub.

Another reason to avoid pruning now besides that you will lose your spring blooms is that pruning incites new growth which will be killed off in a freeze.
Reply:Hydrangeas usually tell you where to prune back to. The tips of the branches go hollow and brittle back to the viable parts. All you do is bend the tips and they should snap off. If you need to prune more back be careful of taking too much off as you may take away any chances of having flowers this year. Actually it depends where you are and what type of hydrangea it is. Some like the Endless Summer variety bloom all summer and well into fall. These ones you can prune in spring and still have a nice show in the summer. The more traditonal ones that only truly bloom once in the summer need to be pruned very carefully if you want to protect the future flowers, as they tend to set there flower buds early on. If it appears to be budding early this year that is probably due to the strange winter weather that most of N. America seems to be having. The plants are really confused, but there is nothing we can do if the weather turns bad and the buds end up getting frost bitten and don't develope properly.
Reply:Leave it alone. Try doing all the trimming late summer early fall. I prefer early fall but just leave it be or you can trim some put in water and watch them open in your house.

You must live where it's warm. If it is used as an indoor plant leave it as well. My friend has one in a big pot in her living room.
Reply:I used to work for a garden shop- do not prune anything until it has finished blooming or until it is dormant! By dormant, I mean in fall or early spring when there are no buds or flowers on the shrub or plant and there are either no leaves or very few leaves on the plant in question. The same rule goes for moving plants to a new location.
Reply:Leave it alone...

if you want to prune it to keep it small,wait until after it blooms.

If you prune it now you won't have many flowers this summer.

I have a rather large Hydrangea , it hasn't bloomed in 2 years. Can someone tell me why?

The plant itself looks very healthy, %26amp; has no bugs on it.

I have a rather large Hydrangea , it hasn't bloomed in 2 years. Can someone tell me why?
Here's an excellent site. He lists different reasons why hydrangeas don't bloom and gives some great advice. Goodluck!
Reply:Have you pruned your plant. If so....Stop. Hydrangeas bloom only on second year growth. The canes that are growing this year will not bloom until next year. After they bloom, let them hang out for awhile, and then prune only the canes that flowered this year - I prune mine after the first frost. All the green foliage that you dont prune will flower next year. Most people add acid to the plants to change the color of the blooms...the more acidic the soil, the more blue the blooms will be. You can buy an inexpensive bag of Ammonium sulfate at any garden store or nursery. good luck
Reply:you have a pointer instead of a siter .buy a siter and plant it next to the pointer .and you will be amazed .sort of like birds and the bees.. buy the way send me a check for the sex education class..C U NEXT blooming season..
Reply:check the soil ( with a soil tester) probably needs acid pickle juice or coffee grounds are good
Reply:Maybe it needs fertilizer and also someone told me that hydrangeas are acid loving and need coffee grounds at the base of the plant. I hope I helped and happy gardening .

I bought a hydrangea with blue flowers, but after I planted it, flowers became green, why?

PH of your dirt. m

I bought a hydrangea with blue flowers, but after I planted it, flowers became green, why?
the flowers should turn blue by themsevles, if not check for nitrogen in your soil, you can get test kits at most home and garden shops
Reply:You need to keep the soil acidic to keep the blue flowers
Reply:Hydrangeas require a specific pH in the soil in order for the flowers to be blue. You need to check the pH, then head to the nursery - they can help you find the right product to increase the acidity in the soil.
Reply:Here's a trick I learned from a gardener many years ago...

Bury a few regular old nails in the soil around the base of the plant. (Note: Don't bury them so deep that your distrub the root system.) The nails will break down and the minerals (iron) will leach down to the root system and be taken up by the plant.

You will get very vibrant blue flowers.
Reply:Nutrients in the soil may have effected the plant.

It may just be changing to its environment
Reply:possibly minerals?
Reply:Acid is probably not high enough. Add coffee grounds to the soil around them if you want them blue again.
Reply:they have to have a plant food with cooper in it to keep them blue. It is available at garden centers etc. call your local garden center and ask or home depot even walmart if theres one near you. But it is the cooper that keeps it blue.
Reply:the soil's nutrients turned the flowers green most likely. If the nutrients were different than the ones in the pot when you bought the plant it could affect the coor when you transplanted it.
Reply:the color of a hydrangea bloom depends on the nutrients in the soil. I give my mom a pretty light pink one for mothers day it is now a dark purple. They have well water lots of minerals.

My newly planted Hydrangea's bottom leaves that are falling off? What is the cause of this? How can I fix it

VERY OFTEN, home owners love their plants SOOOO MUCH, that they tuck them into the ground really deep, and water them every day.

So if this sounds like you, tucked the plant in good and deep to protect it and you water it every day , may be more....

Then do two things;

1. Dig the plant up. Replant it so the potting soil it came in is LEVEL with the surrounding ground, NOT BELOW IT!!!!!!!!

2. Stop watering it. Yes Hydrangeas need a lot of water, but, get a tuna/cat food can and put it under the bush after the can has been emptied.

Now , AT MOST, water the bush until the can is full of water, two times a week.

If you are living in an area that is 100* on average, then mist the leaves daily. DO not soak the roots daily.

My newly planted Hydrangea's bottom leaves that are falling off? What is the cause of this? How can I fix it
It sounds to me as though you might have planted it just a little too deep when you got it. It's important to plant most plants at the same depth they were in their original pot. Also, be sure that you don't over-water it, as that will cause leaf drop as well, since overwatering kills the roots, and means that water and nutrients can't get transported to the leaves and stems properly.

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Hydrangea dying in the south?

I have bought some Hydrangea's and I live in Alabama, they were in 3 gallon pots but I have yet to plant them. 3 days after buying them the leaves started turning really brown. I have been excessively watering them for days now. Some have came back. The roots are taking over the pot and they will be planted very soon. When I water them it runs right through. I have picked some of the brown leaves off, is this the best way? how do I revive them? Thanks

Hydrangea dying in the south?
You may want to get a soaker hose. If you water them at full force with a hose or a watering can, the water will just pool and run off and won't penetrate the root ball. If you don't have a soaker hose, then you can put the hose on them for about 1/2 hour each with a slow drip. This should perk them back up. It worked for my wilty hydrangeas. Don't dispair. They get less delicate and "needy" after the roots have established themselves.
Reply:set them in a bathtub or sink of water and let them drink from the bottom.... watering from the top... the water is running out of the pot... thus the brown leaves.... go ahead and get them in the ground... they'lll come back

Be Blessed!
Reply:any plant that is in a pot need to be watered more than if plant that is in the ground. water them well, soak them good. then plant them as soon as you can. then water them every day, when they are first planted, so they will root well. i live in canada and i have a climbing hydrengea, when i got it was 2 feet tall and after 3 summer it is over 6ft tall. we don't get as warm as the south, but i do water everyday.

good luck