Why Does One Hydrangea Not Bloom And When To Prune

Question From: South Lyon, Michigan, United States
Q: One blooms and the other does not. I have been told not to cut back because I may lose flowers. This past year they both were very overgrown for the area they are in. Leaves are beginning to turn brown. If I cut them back will they bloom next summer? Also wondering why one blooms and the other does not? I fertilized with an acid soil fertilizer last spring, but only got a few flowers on the one and still nothing on the other. I don't know what kind of hydrangea bushes they are, as previous left me no inf. on the garden and I am unable to contact her. The blooms are pink on the one bush if that is any help. I would appreciate any advice you can give me!

A: Rita, Here is an article I wrote for The Detroit News Homestyle that should answer your questions. Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy

Over the years, my two most often asked questions are, Why don't my hydrangeas bloom? and When should I prune them? To ensure your mop heads, the pink and blue flowered beauties such as Endless Summer,bloom, you need to protect them over winter. Begin by building a frame around the shrub. Sturdy stakes driven in the ground and surrounded by chicken wire or burlap is one method. Lattice nailed to the stakes would be more attractive. The cage is then carefully stuffed with leaves or evergreen boughs. Some folks carefully tie up the shrub's stems so there is less chance of damaging the flower buds when stuffing the cage. The flower buds of this type of hydrangea form on the tips of the branches and they begin to develop in mid August, so care must be taken not to damage them or break them off. Pruning these hydrangeas in fall will cut off all the flower buds and the shrubs will fail to bloom the following season. However, dead or spindly stems can be pruned out at the plant's baseline. Removing spent blooms by cutting them just below the flower clusters but above the first set of leaves will not damage next year's flower buds, so that may be done any time. Oak Leaf Hydrangeas (*H. quercifolia) *also form their flowers on year-old wood, so the same rules apply. Pee Gee Hydrangeas (*H. paniculata) *flower on current season's growth and are best pruned in late winter or early spring. Some cut them back hard in fall, but leaving the stems intact over winter provides some protection. Annabelle Hydrangeas (H. arborescens), including the new pink belle and CInvincible Spirit, also bloom on current year's wood and can be pruned in late winter or early spring. Hydrangeas planted in containers should be moved to a protected area for the winter, such as an attached garage. I drop a few ice cubes on the surface of the soil of the pots every few weeks to keep them from drying out. Because it's important to know what kinds of hydrangeas you grow to give them proper care, be sure to keep the identification tags. Caging your Bigleaf hydrangeas also protects them from browsing deer that nibble off the tender flower buds. To keep deer from eating the flower buds off my Oakleaf hydrangeas, I spray them with Plantskydd deer repellant (plantskydd.com ). Apply when it will have 24 hours to dry before rain is expected. 

Q: Would you suggest that I take a hydrangea flower and stem with leaves to a nursery to find out what kind of hydrangea bush I have? What is your recommendation for a nursery in the south Lyon, Novi, Northville area?9

A: Rita, I live a couple of hours from your area so am not familiar with garden centers close you you. Here are three garden centers recommended by the editor of The Michigan Gardener. Milarch Nursery: (248) 437-2094 Plymouth Nursery: (734) 453-5500 Steinkopf Nursery: (248) 474-2925 Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy