Unusual Solutions for Nonblooming Hydrangeas

By Kerry Ann Mendez

A question I frequently get is "why aren't my bigleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) blooming?" There could be several reasons. Improper pruning, the wrong sunlight, or winter damage to flower buds are all common culprits.

Think Differently

One way to solve this problem is to simly grow a different Hydrangea that is both a reliable bloomer and closely resembles a mophead. Earlier this year I wrote about smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), a native Hydrangea. These Hydrangeas form their flower buds in spring and not the prior year as do macrophylla. As a result, the buds are not subject to winter kill. Translation? Flower covered shrubs that are a gardener's delight!

White and Pink Varieties

'Annabelle' and 'Incrediball' are both popular white flowering varieties but if you're looking for a little more color, you also have plenty of options. Among those that can pass as pink mopheads are 'Invincibelle Ruby', 'Invincibelle Mini Mauvette', 'Invincibelle Spirit II', and 'Incrediball Blush'. Plus, these "impostors" require a lot less water than their bigleaf cousins.

When All Else Fails

For those of you who still insist on blue mopheads, you could always do what one of friends did in upstate New York. She bought some incredibly real looking blue silk Hydrangeas and wired these to the bloomless stems of her bigleaf Hydrangeas. Now that is thinking outside of the box!

For more information please check out the handout "Demystifying Hydrangeas".

Kerry Ann Mendez KERRY ANN MENDEZ is an award-winning garden educator, author and design consultant based in southern Maine. Her latest book is The Budget-Wise Gardener. You'll now find her at our Yarmouth store consulting on garden design, answering your gardening questions and much more.