Stacy Ling

Why Aren’t My Hydrangeas Blooming?

· The ULTIMATE Guide to Hydrangeas and Their Care ·

Lately, I've been reading a lot of social media posts and comments about Hydrangeas not blooming. They produce one of the most beautiful flowers so I can see why there is disappointment. Hydrangeas refusing to bloom is a common problem and there are a few reasons why it happens.

Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers. So much so, that I have a few varieties in my gardens. In particular, I love growing these gorgeous Everbloomers that surround the lower deck. For some reason, they are not blooming this year and I’m not sure why.

Since there are several of us with the same problem, let’s review why a hydrangea is not blooming and how to fix it.

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Why Aren't My Hydrangeas Blooming

This is one of my Everblooming Hydrangeas.

Florist or Gift Hydrangea

How was your hydrangea acquired? If it was received as a gift with pretty foil or plastic wrap, the hydrangea is likely a florist or gift hydrangea. These hydrangeas are greenhouse raised to profusely bloom at the point of sale and oftentimes don’t do as well once planted in the garden. (Notice I didn’t say never!)

If you receive one as a gift and decide to plant it in the garden, know that it may or may not flower and keep your expectations low.

So if you received one as a gift, that could be a reason why your hydrangea is not blooming.

Why Aren't My Hydrangeas Blooming

Florist Hydrangeas I picked up from Shop Rite in March so I could have fresh blooms in the house. Isn’t that blue stunning? I had a hard time keeping it alive to even try to plant outside when temps were seasonable enough. Instead of fussing it with it, I treated it as I would any other florist flowers.

Location Location Location

Where are your hydrangeas planted? If the hydrangea is getting too much shade, it will not bloom. Hydrangeas prefer morning sun with afternoon shade and need at least 4 hours of dappled sun per day. Check light conditions and transplant it to a sunnier spot in your yard if the current location is too shady.

Thus, lack of sunlight could explain why a hydrangea is not blooming.

Why Aren't My Hydrangeas Blooming

I never prune my Climbing Hydrangea unless I need to tame the size. It took several years for this to flower after planting, but now blooms profusely every spring.

Pruning at the Wrong Time

When are you cutting back or pruning your hydrangeas? Most often, hydrangeas refuse to bloom because they are pruned at the wrong time. Thus, it is important to know what type of hydrangea you have so you know when to prune it.

There are three different pruning categories that depend on whether the plant blooms on old or new wood. They are:

  • Hydrangea Macrophylla which blooms on old wood
  • Hydrangea Arborescens and Hydrangea Paniculata which blooms on new growth
  • Everblooming/Endless Summer Hydrangeas which blooms on both old and new wood

How to Propagate Hydrangeas in 7 Easy Steps

Everblooming and Macrophylla Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood should be pruned when flowers start to fade. If cut back between fall and early spring, they won’t flower because the buds were trimmed off.

Hydrangeas that bloom on new growth should be cut back in late winter or early spring. I cut my Hydrangea Paniculata back hard the first seasonable day in early spring and it blooms beautifully every fall. Thus, timing is critical!

Not sure what variety you have? Reach out to your local cooperative extension or master gardener program and ask them to ID the plant for you. If you opt not to go that route, try not pruning it at all and see how it does the following growing season.

Why Aren't My Hydrangeas Blooming

Hydrangea Paniculata

Soil

Have you ever tested your soil? It is important to test the soil where hydrangeas are planted because soil quality has an effect on flowering. For example, if the soil is high in nitrogen, the hydrangea may not bloom because nitrogen promotes healthy, green leaves instead of blooms.

High levels of nitrogen can occur if fertilizer is applied at or near the hydrangea. Therefore, consider how much and how often fertilizer is applied, then re-evaluate how the area should be fertilized in the future.

This could be one of the reasons my hydrangeas aren’t blooming this year.

Why Aren't My Hydrangeas Blooming

This Climbing Hydrangea grows up the wall of my garden shed.

Too Much Fertilizer

Are you fertilizing your hydrangeas? I don’t fertilize any of my perennials, shrubs or trees. But I know people some do. Overly-fertilizing promotes big healthy leaves instead of flowers. Stop fertilizing them and see if that improves flowering the following season.

As an alternative to fertilizing, focus more on improving the quality of your soil. Test the soil and based on those results, add compost and other soil amendments that are more organic options rather than blindly applying chemicals.

Why Aren't My Hydrangeas Blooming

Recently Planted Hydrangeas

When were the hydrangeas planted? Hydrangeas may not flower within the first few years of planting because they spend their energy developing good, healthy root systems. I planted a Climbing Hydrangea that took several years to bloom.

So be patient and give them some time to grow strong healthy roots before expecting blooms.

For more information regarding why Hydrangeas refuse to bloom, see Penn State Extension and University of Massachusetts Amherst.

How to Propagate Hydrangeas in 7 Easy Steps

How to Propagate Hydrangeas in 7 Easy Steps

Final Thoughts

I’m so glad I looked into why my hydrangeas aren’t blooming.

I have a few Macrophyllas that are in pretty dense shade. Since I’ve been too lazy to dig them out and transplant them, they leaf out, look healthy, but don’t bloom. If I want to get this hydrangea to bloom, I need to move it stat.

Tour My Home

The bigger concern for me is the lack of blooms on my Endless Summer Hydrangeas. They bloomed profusely from May through November for several years. But a few years ago, we started paying a landscaper to do fall clean-ups. And he cut them back to the ground without my consent. They have not been the same since.

It’s been about two years since they’ve been cut back and the light conditions have not changed, and yet, my endless summer hydrangeas aren’t blooming.

So I suspect they are they are receiving too much fertilizer from the lawn and here’s why:

I have been over-seeding my lawn and adding fertilizer to help those seeds grow. With all the rain we have had in the last two growing seasons and slope of the ground, that fertilizer may be seeping in and impacting my Hydrangeas.

To see if I am correct, I will test the soil to see if there is a high level of nitrogen present and be sure to avoid that area with fertilizer in the future. For me, it’s not worth risking the blooms to have green lawn right next to it.

Why Aren't My Hydrangeas Blooming

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Why Aren't My Hydrangeas Blooming

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Stacy Ling

Stacy Ling is a master gardener who loves home decor and creating beautiful spaces. She provides easy-to-follow, easy-to-do garden, home decor, lifestyle & DIY inspo.

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