Notes From Nancy
With the introduction of "Endless Summer," the Hydrangea macrophylla that produces pink or blue flowers on old and new wood, many of us thought our troubles trying to coax these shrubs into bodacious bloom were over. But apparently not. My most often asked e-mail question at this time of year is again "Why didn't my hydrangea bloom?"
Like a lot of gardeners, my "Endless Summer" hydrangeas have yet to produce a single flower this season and careful inspection of every branch revealed just two tiny flower buds beginning to form on these three-year-old shrubs. Last year, they flowered from June through frost. So what's the deal? Well, here's my take on the problem.
It only takes a few hours of warm, sunny weather in early spring for hydrangeas, such as "Endless Summer" or "Nikko Blue" to begin to break dormancy, exposing their tender flower buds to cold and frost. So the spate of warm weather (a 70-degree day) followed by a week of frigid 20-degree temperatures in April, not only killed the flower buds that formed last fall, the hydrangeas in my garden died back to the ground. Though the shrubs recovered nicely and developed healthy new green shoots in spring, as the plants were forming new flower buds they were hit by several weeks of unseasonably hot weather and drought. I think it was this unusual weather that prevented the hydrangeas from forming more flower buds and kept them from blooming this summer. Hydrangeas grow best when temperatures are cool and the soil remains moist.
So what can we Zone 5 gardeners do to encourage lots of blooms next year? Begin by planting these tender hydrangeas in protected areas and provide a winter cover that insulates the plant from temperature extremes. Also, be prepared to cover the shrubs should a late-season freeze threaten in spring. For more information on the protection and care of these tender pretties go to the website With the introduction of "Endless Summer," the Hydrangeamacrophyllathat produces pink or blue flowers on old and new wood, many of us thought our troubles trying to coax these shrubs into bodacious bloom were over. But apparently not. My most often asked e-mail question at this time of year is again "Why didn't my hydrangea bloom?"
Gardeners who haven't the time or inclination to coddle their Hydrangea macrophyllasshould consider planting the new Hydrangeapaniculata"Pinky Winky." This Proven Winners Color Choice introduction produces lovely white blossoms in late summer that slowly age to rich pink in fall. Hardy to Zone 4, these lovely shrubs can be planted in full sun or part shade. Check them out at www.colorchoice.com.