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Getting your hydrangeas to bloom

Beth Asked

I have had a hydrangea for years. It had blooms on it when I got it, but hasn’t bloomed since. I had it planted in full sun. I was told it only needed morning or afternoon sun, so I transplanted it last fall. Now it only gets afternoon sun. What do I need to do to get it to bloom? Thanks.

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The Gardener’s Answer

Hi Beth: Do you know what kind of Hydrangea you are growing? Growing conditions and pruning requirements depend on the type of hydrangea you have. The most common reasons that hydrangeas don’t bloom are hardiness, lack of sunlight and/or nutrients and improper pruning.

Depending on the type of hydrangea you are growing, they have different pruning requirements. Macrophylla (bigleaf) and Oakleaf hydrangea bloom on old wood, or last season’s growth. These do not require annual pruning except to shape and remove dead wood. The best time to prune these is after they have finished blooming in the fall. Panicle and Arborescens (smooth) hydrangeas bloom on new wood, or current season’s growth. They should be pruned while the plants are dormant before the new growth begins in the spring.

It does not sound like available sunlight is the problem here. Too much sun would not prevent flowers from forming but the foliage might suffer. Too much nitrogen can encourage leafy growth but inhibit blooms. If you think this is a possibility you have your soil tested through your Cooperative Extension Service. Hardiness could also be the issue. I am wondering if you are growing a Floral hydrangea. These mophead hydrangeas are winter hardy, but the flower buds are not. It is hard to say for certain not knowing which hydrangea you are growing.

Angie Oakley

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