How to Make Hydrangeas Bloom

July 25, 2008 | By | Comments (75)

Q: I have several hydrangeas at our home in Wilmington, NC. Three summers ago, they bloomed beautifully, but last 2 summers I’ve had 1 or 2 blooms on each. They look very wilted but watering hasn’t helped. Any suggestions? KendraHydrangeas_2

A: I assume you have the kind of hydrangeas that have either blue or pink flowers. If your plants aren’t blooming now, they probably won’t do much this summer. So how do you get flowers for next year? Follow these steps:

1. Don’t prune them. They’ll be making flower buds for next year pretty soon. Pruning now will cut them off.
2. If you like blue flowers, give them an acid-forming azalea-camellia type fertilizer now. Slow-release fertilizer is better (check for this on the bag). Be sure to water it in.
3. Keep your plants well watered. You’ll be watering often, but that’s what these hydrangeas need. Mulching around them will decrease their need for water.
4. The best lighting situation for hydrangeas is morning sun and light afternoon shade. If yours don’t get this, consider moving them to a better spot this fall after the leaves drop.

Good luck,
Grumpy

COMMENTS

  1. Steve Bender

    Ellen,
    Most plants, like hydrangeas, don’t have separate sexes and even when they do, both sexes bloom. So that is not the problem. More likely, either the plant doesn’t get enough sun or the winter cold killed all the flower buds. Pruning from midsummer through winter can also prevent blooming by removing the flower buds.

    August 8, 2014 at 2:01 pm
  2. ellen

    my hydrangeas is in east side of house and is huge but has never bloomed. The plant is beautiful but no flowers. Someone said I need two to make it bloom. But I don’t know. It is supposed to be pink.

    August 7, 2014 at 11:10 am
  3. Steve Bender

    Garcielle,
    Most mophead hydrangeas like yours have one main blooming season. This lasts for several weeks, but then the flowers fade and dry. There is nothing you can do to change this. You can either leave the dried flowers on the shrub or clip them off. If you want a hydrangea that repeat blooms, you’ll have to buy named selections, such as ‘Endless Summer’, ‘Forever & Ever’, ‘All Summer Beauty’, and ‘Pennymac.’ Newly planted hydrangeas do need regular watering, so don’t fall behind on that. Keep the foliage healthy and green and you’ll get lots of flowers again next year.

    November 24, 2012 at 8:46 am
  4. Gracielle

    Im from philippines, I purchased hydrangeas 3weeks ago in their full bloom stage, i water them everyday, i did some research coz i want them to stay in full bloom for a long time,(so i stop watering them everyday instead i switch it into alternate watering days) i noticed that the flowers are getting dry and the leaves are getting droopy, until i follow some instruction of mixing a vinegar into my water, and the leaves became green and alive again, but the flowers r still dry and never recover from their original beauty until they (flowers) became all dry yet the leaves are growing continuosly, i decided to cut the dead flowers (the whole mophead) hoping to get a new bloom, but now im worried that it wont grow back to its original bloom and wont flower anymore, what do i need to do? Will they produce flowers again? Please help! Thanks so much

    November 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm
  5. Knei Villanueva Tan-Tiongco

    i don’t prune my hydrangeas, deer do that’s why i never had flower since i planted them, they’re so big now, they just keep on making leaves for the last 6 years, i sprayed all kinds of deer resistant mixtures but nothing help, can anyone help please?

    August 24, 2012 at 1:53 am
  6. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Diane,
    You probably have hydrangeas that bloom on the previous year’s growth. If you pruned them in spring, you cut off all the flowers for this year. Don’t prune them any more and they should bloom next year.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm
  7. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Heather,
    Your hydrangeas are undoubtedly showing the effects of last summer. The only suggestion I can offer to get the flower buds to open is to literally soak your plants. Hydrangeas need a lot of water in summer. Go ahead and cut off any dead stems now.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm
  8. Diane

    We have two large hyrdangea bushes (blue/purple flowers) that flowered like mad over the last 5 years. They overgrew our walkway and so my husband pruned them back. Now, we have lots of leaves but no flowers at all :(
    They get enough sun and water, and have always thrived until now. Will the flowers ever come back? I miss my beloved hyrdangeas!

    July 17, 2012 at 11:09 am
  9. Heather

    I have 4 hydrangea shrubs that we planted 1 year ago. Last summer they flowered beautifully, but we had a heat wave that July that we thought nearly killed them. My husband was ready to tear them out of the ground, but we decided to wait and they seemed to bounce back. This summer, however, their leaves are not looking as healthy, and they’re all full of flower buds that just won’t open. The buds have been there for well over a month, and only one shrub has had any flowers whatsoever, and it’s only very few. The buds elongated (they look like tubes) and even turned blue on the tips, but no flowers. We thought that they might still be damaged from last year, but even after coming back from the brink last summer they bloomed really well. One shrub in particular is very small, with lots of dead stems and looks particularly unhealthy. I’m not sure what to do to help them out. Any thoughts?

    July 17, 2012 at 10:48 am
  10. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Elaine,
    ‘Nikko Blue’ is only blue in acid soil. In alkaline soil, it’s pink. So you would need to use an acid-forming fertilizer containing sulphur. Also, ‘Nikko Blue’ blooms on flower buds made the previous year, so if late winter freezes kill them, you don’t get any blooms. I’d suggest planting reblooming hydrangeas, such as ‘Endless Summer,’ ‘Forever & Ever,’ and ‘Mini-Penny.’ They bloom on both old and new growth, so even if they die to the ground due to cold, they’ll still grow back and bloom.

    June 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm
  11. Elaine

    I have a Nikko Blue hydrangea. Its never been blue, and its had a few pink flowers but this year – not a one. What can I try to improve my luck? I live in southwestern Ontario near Detroit.

    June 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm
  12. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Kate,
    Take Melissa’s advice. Also make sure the soil in the container stays moist. All it has to do is dry out completely one day during the growing season and your plant can die.

    June 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm
  13. Melissa H.

    May I suggest one thing to everyone if you aren’t getting any flowers on your plant, try giving it acid fertlizer. I had my plant for 3 years and for 2 years I did not have a flower on it. I called the place from where I purchased it and he asked me if I was feeding it acid fertlizer. I said no. He said it needs it. I can’t believe it!!! IT WORKED FOR ME!!!!!!!!!!!!! I now actually have a flower on my plant. I am so excited about that. I almost went and bought another bush. This one is fine for me. I know that my flowers grow on new wood. Try it even if it grows on old wood. It might be that is what it needs!!!

    June 8, 2012 at 9:22 pm
  14. Kate

    My plants started out beautiful, I watered them often and they had beautiful blue flowers, now they are all dying, I live in Colorado and I planted them in a huge whiskey barrel with large holes in the bottom, please help!

    June 5, 2012 at 8:19 pm
  15. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Did they do this last year?

    May 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm
  16. Sandra Parish

    I live in southern GA,near Savannah. I’m not sure what type of hydragea I have, but it is loaded with buds, but they won’t bloom, only a few of the buds open. The leaves look green and healthy, any suggestions?

    May 28, 2012 at 11:14 am
  17. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Melissa,
    Nothing more will grow from dead branches.

    April 30, 2012 at 7:25 am
  18. Melissa H.

    I will check into getting a new flower bush. One that I can count on blooming right. Thank you.

    April 26, 2012 at 7:47 am
  19. Melissa H.

    Thank you for getting back to me. Will it then grow next year? Is this the plant that grows flowers on the dead branches?

    April 26, 2012 at 7:45 am
  20. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Melissa,
    The one you have won’t bloom this year. Sun in the morning and light shade in the afternoon is fine.

    April 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm
  21. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Melissa,
    Most hydrangeas bloom on growth made the previous year, so if you prune them in fall and winter, you’re cutting off all the blooms for next year. In addition, Nebraska winters are too cold for good flower production, as it often kills the flower buds. The answer for you is to plant a hydrangea that blooms on new growth. That way, even if you cut them back or they get killed to the ground by cold, they’ll still bloom. Try ‘Endless Summer,’ ‘All Summer Beauty,’ ‘Pennymac,’ and ‘Forever & Ever.’

    April 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm
  22. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Lily,
    My guess is that Luzon has a tropical climate and French hydrangea doesn’t like it there. Some winter chill is probably necessary to produce blooms. I would definitely make sure yours get shade in the afternoon.

    April 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm
  23. Melissa H.

    I have just one more question. When shall I expect to see it bloom, if it will this year or next year? Is there something else I can do to help it? It is planted in the shade, it received some sunlight in the morning, and late in the afternoon, it gets shade. Please help. Thank you.

    April 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm
  24. Melissa H.

    I live in eastern Nebraska. I had purchased a mophead Hydrangea about 2 years ago. The first year was great it bloomed. The 2nd year, I wasn’t sure how to prune them, so I cut them all the back to the ground. Last year I did not get a bloom. After doing some research, I found out that I shouldn’t had done this. So this last year, before the frost set in, I covered it up to protect it. The plant that I have seems to grow new growth in the center of the old growth. I also read the flowers will bloom on dead wood branches. Is this true? Right now, it is growing the leaves like crazy. I did not do any pruning last year to see if it would help it grow back its bueatiful flowers. This is one of my favorite flowers, I really hope it will come back. I have thought about buying a new plant, and starting over. But it is not dead, it still does grow the leaves. Will I get a bloom this year, since I didn’t prune last year? How should I prune this, so I do it right? What would be the best bug spray to get to spray on it? Last year I noticed bugs were eating on it, and it had brown little spots on it. I had bought some Seven, which is a powder bug kill, but I think that I would like to get a spray that won’t hurt the flower.
    PLEASE HELP. I would really like to see my flower bloom again. I noticed on the dead branches that there are pointing ends on the end. Is this where the new flower will grow? Or will I have to wait one more year, before I see flowers again? I am not an expert at this plant, but like to know more about it. Thank you for your time.

    April 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm
  25. Lily manalo

    I brought some Hydrangea stems to the Philippines. I cut them from my plants in Daly City Ca. I was able to grow these stems by rooting solution. I planted them in pots. They grew tall and healthy. My problem now is for more than a year already they haven’t gotten any flower.One of my solutions now is some of the plants I transferred them directly on the ground and water them morning and afternoon. In Daly City, I got no problem planting them. I live in Central Luzon, where it is very hot in summer. What is your advice?

    April 22, 2012 at 4:54 am

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