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Why Are My Hydrangea Not Blooming?

Varigated_Hydrangea_LeavesVariegated hydrangea, have had 5 years or so. Does not bloom. Have kept old wood, no bloom; cut off old wood, no bloom. Gets morning sun, shade in afternoon.  Soil is clay, but amended, and has good drainage. Very nice plant, lovely leaves, just no flowers. Thanks, Rose

Answer: Rose, there are several varieties of variegated hydrangea; some are two-color and some are three, but none of them are big bloomers, especially anywhere in Zones 5 or 6. They were developed primarily for the interesting foliage and not for their blooms. That said, mine did bloom a few years ago when we had an unusually mild winter here in the Midwest and the blooms are nice. It sounds like you have done most of the appropriate things to encourage it to bloom. Besides adding more compost to the soil around it, you might also add some Espoma Flower-tone to the soil this fall and again very early spring when buds are starting to form. This is also when you would add any soil acidifier if you want the blooms to be blue. I like the Espoma “tone” fertilizers because they are very mild and you can add significant amounts without damaging or burning the plant. You might also try wrapping it in the late winter, after December, to protect against the late spring frost. There are wraps out there that are supposed to zone up the plant by one climate zone. The down side with this method is getting an early warming spell and the plants getting too warm, then frost again. You could try just using burlap, which will protect the plant but it will still allow the cold and warming temperatures.

I’ve learned to enjoy mine for its foliage, and if I get blooms it’s a bonus.

Happy gardening,  Karen

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