The garden looks bare. Areas that were full of pink, purple and blue blooms last year are shades of green. Much as I like green, I do miss the glorious Hydrangea blooms that are normally a prominent feature of the July shade garden at Northview.
The emails started flying in late March, asking me: “will my Hydrangeas live, will they bloom this year?” The winter weather was not kind to many of our trees and shrubs here in Eastern Pennsylvania. Thick layers of ice, followed by snow, broke tree limbs. Bitterly cold temperatures killed borderline hardy plants that we have grown for years. Many Hydrangeas this spring only re-grew from the base.
The traditional Hydrangea macrophylla, blooms on second year wood. The harsh winter killed many of the woody stems of Hydrangea that were above ground. These stems contained the flower buds. If you are growing older cultivars of Hydrangeas, many of them will not bloom this year. Continue to look after the plants this season in order to build up a good strong shrub that will “knock your socks off” next year with amazing blooms.
If you have the new re-blooming Hydrangeas like H. ‘Endless Summer’, you will get blooms, but they will be much later than in a “normal” year. The blooms of the re-blooming Hydrangeas are produced on both the old and new wood. The June/July blooms are on old wood and the later blooms are mostly on new wood.
If you are a pessimist and think that we have more foul winters to come, I would rush out and buy some of the re-blooming Hydrangeas and plant them.
Also check out Michael Dirr’s book, “Hydrangeas for American Gardens”, 2004, Timber Press. Pages 77-86 contain lists of the more cold-hardy Mophead and Lacecap Hydrangeas.