forever summer hydrangea

pollyanna53April 29, 2014

We have five Forever Summer hydrangeas that are about 8 years old. They have bloomed profusely every year and in the past have been full of buds or young leaves by this time. We had an unusually cold winter and spring and although I covered them whenever frost was predicted, I think I may have missed one or two when out of town. It is now the end of April and we have new growth coming up from the bases but no buds on any of the old stems. I have waited hoping they would come on but there is no evidence of anything going on. The old stems are very dense and my husband is thinning them out to make room for the new growth from the base. Is there any chance we might still get some growth on old stems?

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

I have a few stems that are waiting until May. Since you are further north, you may want to wait 1-2 more weeks. It is a common problem with new hydrangeas but older ones should be leafing out more or less on time, plus or minus a few weeks. I doubt mine will leaf out after all the wild temperature fluctuations we had! Yours may also be dead but unfortunately, it is hard to tell for sure without access to a MRI Machine! Hee hee hee.

Or you could prune them in small increments until you see green or get to the bottom. The problem with this is youcould accidentally prune flower buds. If so, then plant will still bloom, albeit much later.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 7:01PM
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springwood_gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

I believe you're mixing up two names for two different products - Forever & Ever and Endless Summer.

The general "cut-off" date for growth from old stems is Memorial Day. In most cases, new growth from old stems comes from actual buds, but *can* come from the nodes where the buds were, as long as the stems aren't dead. Endless Summer is very resilient in this manner, and not so much Forever & Ever (original).

Each winter, hydrangea macrophylla "pick and choose" which stems to let die off, in order to help protect the rest of the plant. Dead stems appear strawlike and almost hollow - almost white in color. Still-living stems are anywhere from gray to brown in color. The harsher the winter, the more dead stems you get. You can prune the dead ones out now, as long as you can tell these visual and sensory differences.

If no growth by late May from anywhere up top, it's time to consider trimming those stems down to where there is growth is seen. Bad years vary greatly here. For example, a bad winter followed by a dry summer will yield little or nothing from a mac.

This was a bad winter. Except for the hydrangea paniculata, everything else in my garden took big hits. Even the knockout roses got clobbered from 5' back to about 2'.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:44AM
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