Hydrangea not blooming

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Q: Last year I planted a beautiful summer flowering hydrangea with gorgeous blooms! This year however, despite the plant growing quite large, and the leaves looking lush & healthy, it has failed to bloom. It has been fertilized & watered on a regular basis. I live in the west Quebec region, and we have had a lot of rain this summer. Could that play a role in the plant not blooming?

I’m sorry to hear that your hydrangeas aren’t flowering. Since your species of flower normally requires plenty of water, especially during the summer, I don’t think the large amounts of rain this year is the problem. This past winter’s snowstorms sent an unseasonably large amount of snow your way, so that’s probably why you don’t see flowers this year.

A late winter/spring freeze can ruin the flower buds quite easily. It’s hard to notice that the buds are damaged until you realize the blooms aren’t forming or if no leaves emerge. Since flower buds only develop on old stems of the plant, new flowers won’t appear until the following year or until you have a milder winter/spring.

Here are a few ideas for protecting your hydrangeas during the colder, snow-covered months:

Build a wire cage (out of materials other than plastic) around your hydrangeas then cover the enclosure with an insulation material, such as oak leaves, pine straw, or even packaging foam. You should leave this set up till the frost season passes. Be careful not to break the tips off any of the branches, since this is where the flower buds are formed. Also, tie your insulation material down so stormy conditions won’t allow your insulation to rub and damage the buds. If you see that your insulation is damaged, replace it as soon as you can.

If you have another unseasonably cold winter, and your Hydrangea happens to be small, you can place it in a pot and move it indoors to a cellar or a garage where there will be less freezing. This can also help keep your flower buds from being damaged by the cold.

Another effective, but odd way, of protecting your hydrangeas is by flattening them. Find the middle of the shrub, then gently push down on groups of branches on all sides. Use a large cardboard box (such as a large TV box) and cover the plant, then place a weight on the box to prevent the plant from expanding again. During the winter, the snow will cover the box, further holding your plant down. And in the spring, after the frost period, remove the box, and your plant should be ready to bloom!