Hydrangea Without Blooms
(Image credit: <a href='https://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-28746340-green-hydrangea-leaves.php'>swkunst, iStock</a>)

A hydrangea plant in full bloom has to be one of the most beautiful plants ever grown in a garden. For outdoor beauty, home décor, and gorgeous bridal bouquets, hydrangeas are a go-to plant for many gardeners.

Disheartened because your hydrangea won’t bloom? A hydrangea not blooming can be frustrating. Usually when a hydrangea won’t flower, it is a common problem with some simple solutions. Read on for tips on getting your hydrangea to bloom.

Why Aren’t My Hydrangeas Blooming?

No flowers on hydrangea bushes? It’s disappointing when your hydrangea won’t bloom. It happens. If your hydrangea isn’t flowering, though, there’s usually a pretty easy solution. First, don’t forget to check your plant hardiness zone to be sure you have the right hydrangea type for your region.

When your hydrangea won’t bloom, it is often due to the species of hydrangea you’ve planted. Here’s the key to understanding your plant: some hydrangea varieties grow flowers off new wood, and some grow flowers off old wood. If your hydrangea won’t flower, you’ll want to figure out which variety you have. Hydrangeas that flower off of newly grown wood don’t present much of a blooming problem.

Some of the most common hydrangea plants come from the big-leaf family, or Hydrangea macrophylla. These produce beautiful blue or pink flowers. However, there are many different cultivars created from this family of plants, and many of them tend to die back to the base of the ground in the cold of winter.

If the existing, or “old” wood, on this type of hydrangea dies back to the ground, your hydrangea won’t bloom when it grows back the following spring. Why? Because it’s busy growing new wood and with this type of hydrangea, flowers won’t form on newly grown wood. The “old” stalks are where next year’s flowers will appear.

One solution: Protecting your hydrangeas from frost and freezing temperatures in the winter may help them perform better in the summer.

Still No Flowers on Hydrangea?

If you have a hydrangea that won’t flower, you may have pruned it back too far the year before. Often, hydrangeas that aren’t producing flowers have been pruned in early summer and late winter. If they are over pruned, they’ll have a tendency to die back more than normal and they’ll make you wait a whole year before they blossom again.

The solution: Prune your hydrangea only in the early spring when you can see the dead wood. Again, if you see your hydrangea not blooming, make sure you know what type it is and note how far back it died the year before. Remember, it may need that old wood in order to bloom.

Finally, if your hydrangeas are not flowering and you’ve determined that nothing here applies so far, you may want to have your soil tested. If your soil has an abundance of nitrogen, your hydrangea may have lush green growth and no flowers. Hydrangeas, like so many other flowering plants, need phosphorus in order to properly bloom and flower. Adding bone meal is a great way to increase the phosphorus in the soil. Also, keep this in mind when choosing a fertilizer for your plants.

Caroline Bloomfield
Manager of Marketing Communications

Caroline Bloomfield is Manager of Marketing Communications at Gardening Know How since 2019. A northwest native, she has resided and gardened in multiple zones in the U.S. and is currently at home in Eugene, Oregon. Writing and editing for various publications since 1998, her BA in American Studies from Southern Maine University includes an emphasis in English. She was raised in California by avid gardeners and continues to enjoy the natural world with an appreciation for the concepts of sustainability and organic care for the planet.