Non-blooming black-eyed Susans and climbing hydrangea

Credit: iStockphoto


Q: My black-eye Susans, which I have had for a few years now, don’t seem to be coming up yet. Usually by this time of year, they are well on their way. Is it possible it could have died and if so, how can I tell for sure.

Also, how long does it take for a climbing hydrangea to start blooming. This is the 3rd summer for mine.

I will assume that the “black-eyed Susan” is Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’. This is a reliable perennial which generally survives our West Coast winters. It may be bit slow to wake up this spring given our cooler than normal weather. I would be a bit more patient.

But if the black-eyed Susan is Rudbeckia hirta, it tends to be a more short-lived perennial or annual. Rudbeckia hirta generally has a more hairy leaf than R. fulgida. Check below ground level for any sign of life.

Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris) are generally
slow to establish. Flowers are produced on the previous year’s ripened lateral shoots, usually on the upper portion of the plant. It could take roughly five years before this plant is fully established. Keep plants well mulched and watered during the growing season. Avoid excessive pruning as this may reduce flowering for a year or two. Instead spread pruning over a three or four-year period. Climbing hydrangea will grow only as tall as space allows. The plant is not too particular as to the type of fertilizer as long as you do not overdo it.