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.
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!
'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.
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".