Stubborn Hydrangea

I am envious of all the beautiful hydrangeas being posted. This healthy but little hydrangea is almost 6 years old. I stopped pruning it 3 years ago and this year added coffee grounds to the soil around it. Azaleas planted nearby do spectacular and I am wondering why this little guy won't grow or bloom---help?
stubborn hydrangea, flowers, gardening, hydrangea
  41 answers
  • Charlotte Ryan Charlotte Ryan on Jul 07, 2013
    Do Hydrangeas go in Colorado

  • Peg Peg on Jul 07, 2013
    Dee, ALL of the hydrangeas that I planted in the gardens that I got as an Easter gift, do not bloom. Some are 4 or 5 yrs old, I haven't gotten any to bloom and I don't trim them back. I get foliage, but no flowers. I'm wondering if those "greenhouse" type hydrangeas are not the type for my area in NY. I will be doing another garden in the shade and want hydrangeas in them, I will make sure to buy only Nursery stock, guaranteed to grow where I live.

  • JimG JimG on Jul 07, 2013
    RED ROCK.... emits HEAT and slows the plants growth! We learned this as MY garden behind the pool is Red Rock and what we learned was to rake that away from the plant, far away and replace UNDER the red rock with Red mulch. My three hydrangeas, and my CANA are doing so much better now. I didn't remove ALL the red rock, JUST around the plants. This year, ONE 44.00 bag of Red Mulch to just replenish under the plants. Plants don;t like the red rock in the heat!

  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) on Jul 07, 2013
    It might bee too cold for the cultivar that you have planted. The bloom buds may be getting frozen.....or it might be too much nitrogen......or it might be not enough water when the bloom buds are forming.....Do you know which variety you have?

  • Karolyn M Karolyn M on Jul 07, 2013
    I have the same problem. I live in Southeastern Kansas and bought 2 Hydrangeas 4 years ago. They bloomed all summer the first season they were planted, then nothing. I did cut them back that first fall....then learned later that was a huge NO-NO. Don't have any idea what the problem has been since then. Too bad...they were gorgeous blooms.

  • Dee W Dee W on Jul 07, 2013
    @Jim G -thanks for the tip, I had been thinking of moving the plant since the rock cannot be moved, it is for drainage from a rain barrel. @360 Sod (Donna Dixson) I have no idea what type, I had bought three and this is the only one that survived. Are you saying that where I live may be hindering the blooms? @Karolyn M, @Peg I'm sorry you are having the same trouble. This was one of my few plants not purchased from my local nursery. @Charlotte Ryan I don't know if they do well or not where you live. Best bet would be to ask your local nursery or greenhouse, not WM or HD. Good Luck!

  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 08, 2013
    Yes, where you live may definitely be hindering the blooms, Dee. If you have a hydrangea that blooms on old wood and your winters are too cold for the buds to make it through, you will never see blooms.

  • Kim Ideus Kim Ideus on Jul 08, 2013
    Here is how I put mine to bed every winter (I live in Nebraska). Lay down tarp, then piece of cardboard. Gently fold the plant onto the cardboard. Then cover with more cardboard then fold the tarp over the top lay of the cardboard. Tuck all corners in of the tarp then rocks or heavy objects on top of the tarp to keep from coming untucked. Uncover in the spring and you will have nice flowers on your plant. You are not getting flowers b/c it is too cold and the flower buds for next spring are on your plant in the fall. If they freeze, they don't bloom. Guaranteed to work.

  • I have the same problem with a large hydrangea that was in the garden when we moved here two years ago - just one bloom the first summer and nothing last year. So I didn't do anything to it in the spring - no trimming back - and it's blooming this year. Don't know the variety, but it's pink. It may well be the cold, but since I'm in Ontario Canada and a colder zone I can't figure it out.

  • Peg Peg on Jul 09, 2013
    Wow all! thanks for the tips too! I'm assuming the ones I plopped in the ground, just so I didn't throw them away, since they were "holiday" gifts, I was pretty sure they would survive or be successful, now I know why. But, I won't give up. I'll try what Kim suggested to see if I can get any action from them, IF I remember when the fall comes!

  • Roberta Rosheim Roberta Rosheim on Jul 09, 2013
    I just planted 2 hydrangias and the first week they were beautiful but now they are wilting. One has dead leaves. I replanted it and put better soil under it and some acid Miracle Grow. We have been getting rain too. I sure hope it survives. It is in a shady spot but it has been really hot in the 90s here in Iowa.

  • Patt Butti6 Patt Butti6 on Jul 09, 2013
    I read Epsom salts is good for hydrangias. Two tab. to a gal of water. Good fertilizer

  • Tawnya Sanchez Tawnya Sanchez on Jul 09, 2013
    Best hydrangeas to grow and bloom are Annabelle and Limelight. They grow large and bloom profusely. Annabelles spring through fall, limelight about July through fall(Idaho). Takes a year or more to see blooms, and hydrangeas love water. If you see them drooping or wilting they need a big drink of water! I have planted several varieties that have bloomed when planted and then never again. These two varieties won't let you down!

  • Mary Melton Mary Melton on Jul 09, 2013
    My Dad always went around them with a small shovel then fertilized them. They bloomed like crazy. One year he used a blue colored fertilizer and the blooms were the same blue!

  • Dee W Dee W on Jul 09, 2013
    Well, since I do still want a hydrangea or two, I will try with another variety and be more careful in my selection. I may transfer this on to another area and see if it fares any better. If not, it is still a cute little guy and definitely a keeper!

  • Jessica Dunbar Jessica Dunbar on Jul 09, 2013
    I learned about hydrangeas the hard way. I trimmed it in the Spring and sent it into shock. The blooms were not opening, after a little research I read it is best to trim in the fall. The next year it did much better. Goodluck with your little plant.

  • JimG JimG on Jul 10, 2013
    just FYI: I have THREE Hydrangeas (Lacetop). TWO are growing well this year, the third.... STOPPED growing at the edge of the Red Rock! We put the Red Mulch around ALL our plants in the Red Rock area (moved Red Rock away from the stems and area the plant grows and replaced w/ Red Mulch, and IRONICALLY, THE ONLY Hydrangea that is not growing more is the one with Red Rock close to the stem. PROMPTED me to MOVE some of that RED ROCK!

  • Erin G Erin G on Jul 10, 2013
    I have been reading up on hydrangeas a lot lately and I highly advise an all-purpose fertilizer -- that is what Proven Winners advised me after I planted mine, and the label & websites ALL say to fetrlilize hydrangeas every few months as they are heavy feeders! I asked if Miracle Gro is okay and they said yes (at Proven Winners, where I got bothy of my hydrangeas). WIth all the hybrids out now, yours might not be one that loves acidic soil, maybe try to avoid making acidic amendments to the soil? Hope that helps!

  • Kathleen T Kathleen T on Jul 11, 2013
    Could it be that this is a miniature or flower shop hydrangea? it looks awfully healthy.

  • Dee W Dee W on Jul 11, 2013
    @Kathleen T I don't think so, I got it at Lowe's, one of the Proven Winner plants. It does look good and I was told they are slow growers, but this seems a bit too slow-add in no flowers and it isn't really happy.

  • Erin G Erin G on Jul 14, 2013
    Dee - Do you have facebook? If you do, Proven Winners has a facebook page and they are REALLY GOOD about replying to questions about their plants. You could upload this photo to their page & ask what they think about it. I've been thrilled with how good that company is on after-market advice about their products, ask the source, they'll know for sure!

  • I would like to suggest that you put it in a large pot (Walmart has some plastic ones for $6.97 which are about 5 gal or so) and put the hydrangea in there and bring it in the winter to your garage. Overwintering in the Midwest is sometimes a must have for plants. Colorful pots will add some color and fun to your garden as well. I put many things in pots and overwinter even in the South.

  • Dee W Dee W on Jul 14, 2013
    @Erin G thank-you for the tip and yes, I am on FB. @The Garden Frog with C Renee I can try that if nothing else seems to work, but to be honest, I can't keep houseplant alive and I'd hate to kill this on. Thanks for your input.

  • Gabriel D Gabriel D on Jul 14, 2013
    One of the most common problems with planting certain shrubs is that often people will did a $5 hole for a $5 plant. To help guarantee a successful planting, always dig a $10 hole for a $5 plant. In otherwords make the hole twice the size of the oot ball of the plant. Hydrangeas like a semi moist location and thrive in semi shade /filtered light sites. They also prefer a mix of rich bedding soil; perlite/vermiculite and sand for drainage. They do need 3 season moisture and a little attention. Adding copper sulfate or aluminum phosphate will turn the blooms redder or bluer. In harsh winter conditions some gardeners will put a 3 or 4 stakes up while the ground is unfrozen circling the shrub and allowing approximately 7 to 8 inches spacing between the stakes and plant. The take some potato sack material or landscape fabric and wrap this around the outside of the stakes. Around the shrub and inside the cloth lossely place straw; dry leafs or loosely balled up landscape fabric. This will insulate the shrub during the coldest months of winter. This is how many shrubs are protected in Zones colder than suggested/advised by growers.

  • Bonnie Bassett Bonnie Bassett on Jul 16, 2013
    I have tw0 hydrangeas that have grown quite large but out of about 5 years they only bloomed well one season and a person on this site answered my question ...he said the winters were to cold for the type of hydrangeas that I have grown and now I realized that the year they did well we had a very mild winter here in southern NH. sad but at least it is through no fault of my own maybe you should try mulching them with an acidic mulch rather than the pebbles.

  • Helen Melanson Helen Melanson on Aug 01, 2013
    I have a hydrangea that is quite big and healthy, also have never had it bloom. I will have to try the fertilizers and other mentioned ideas. Seems like I have a stubborn little plant! ( I'm in Ma.)

  • Bonnie Bassett Bonnie Bassett on Aug 02, 2013
    maybe (like I was told about mine ) the buds die because the winters are to cold I am thinking of doing what Gabriel advised.....wrapping them up for the winter months !

  • JimG JimG on Aug 04, 2013
    I hear you all about the Winters, BUT the spring and Summer should be warm enough to bring bloom...... I suggest for FUN, just TRY and pull the Red Rock away from the Base of the plant and replace that few feet diameter around the plant with Red Mulch. color blends in, Mulch keeps soil moist, AND the heat generated will NOT STIFLE the plant! (I see plants near my Brick Shed and also around teh Red Rock either DIED or stopped growing from the heat generated from the stone.

  • Beverlina Beverlina on Aug 04, 2013
    I had the same problem. Had one that didn't bloom for 6 years. I read an article to dig a small trench in the ground around the hydrangea . Next mix a gallon of warm water, 1 cup of apple juice, and 3 tablespoons of epson salts and pour it in the trench. I did it last year and this year and now have blooms!!!

  • JimG JimG on Aug 04, 2013
    and I imagine the weather up in Wilkes-Barre is similar to Michigan! (my Mom and Mother-in-Law live up there!) ok, so Apple Juice, Epsum Salt and warm water! might work on OTHER blooms also!? (My Lacetop Hydrangias actually blossom BEAUTIFULLY for approx 2-3 months, before flowers die off and only plant/leaves thru Decembersh.......

  • Dee W Dee W on Aug 04, 2013
    @Beverlina Thank-you for the "recipe" that is so interesting. I have been finding quite a few uses for Epsom salts lately. @Jim G I am going to move this plant, just haven't found a spot yet, and I think I should wait until late Sept/Oct.

  • Beverlina Beverlina on Aug 05, 2013
    I also use 3 tablespoons of espom salts, 1 tablespoon of Miracle Grow, to 1 gallon of water, to water my garden plants and it works out great. Great to green up a lawn too.

  • Sandy B Sandy B on Aug 20, 2013
    Help answer this question...@Dee, I thought maybe it was an Ohio thing, until I started noticing other peoples. I planted mine a year and a half ago, and still no blooms.

  • Erin G Erin G on Aug 24, 2013
    Also all hydrangeas are different -- some bloom on OLD WOOD, some bloom on NEW WOOD. So if you all who have them and they "haven't bloomed in years", you might be accidentally pruning off the new wood or the old wood that it would be blooming on. ALSO Hydrangeas are VERY heavy feeders, they need LOTS of fertilizer!! Mine, he blooms faded to a yellowish colour with brown edges, I thought I was going to lose the shrub, but I checked the Proven Winners website & it said to fertilize weekly -- I gave it a good watering, then hit it with a double-dose of Miracle-Gro Ultra Bloom, and within a couple of days, it shot up 10 new flower buds. Then I mixed in a double-dose of slow-release miracle grow, and it's shooting up a lot more! I had another one that I was kinda scared to plant, since the first one was dying, but once I saw how much the fertilizer mattered, I hit it with fertilizer then planted it with lots of slow release & goot soil, and it's blooming BEAUTIFULLY!!

    • See 1 previous
    • Dee W Dee W on Aug 04, 2014
      @Sandra Lueker I hope you see a difference in yours, too.

  • Sandy B Sandy B on Aug 27, 2013
    Help answer this question...I haven't pruned, because it is so small.

    • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Aug 28, 2013
      @Sandy B I'm not sure what your question is. If you post it as a new question using the red "post & ask" button at the top of the page, more people will see it and you will get better answers.

  • Erin G Erin G on Aug 30, 2013
    I've been fertilizing my hydrangeas with Miracle-Gro Ultra Bloom - 15-30-15, because they're VERY heavy feeders, they CANNOT bloom without fertilizer. And every time I fertilize mine, they shoot up a bunch of new buds, yay! I've never had them before & I LOVE them!

  • JimG JimG on Aug 30, 2013
    Ironic.... I NEVER have fertilized my Lacetop Hydrangeas and they bloom every year without ANY help. Beautiful May thru mid-July before the flowers die off, but the leaves continue to bloom!

    • See 1 previous
    • JimG JimG on Sep 03, 2013
      @Erin G Yup! Makes perfect sense Erin. We have ONE area of the garden where Cana grows BEAUTIFUL, but the OPPOSITE side they BARELY SPROUT! What we learned is we have to dig up the area, dig approx 3+ feet down, PULL all the clay, replace with new soil and compost (CHEAP!). Takes approx 40 minutes or so at most. Key for your Hydrangeas is if you do dig them up: 1) TRY and keep its terminal root in-tact as long as you can. 2) They might go into shock for a couple months, but should come back nicely. I suspect you'll have to continue with the plant fertilizer every 2 weeks. Good luck!

  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Aug 31, 2013
    I don't think I ever dropped so much as a tablespoon of fertilizer on my paniculata hydrangeas, and some of them were huge shrubs, covered in blooms.

  • Alta Turner Alta Turner on Apr 07, 2021

    Move to the north of your property does better get your soil tested