Should Quick Fire have set buds by now?

lalalaJune 11, 2014

I planted a Quick Fire hydrangea in the fall. It survived the cold winter just fine, and had almost no dieback on its branches. There aren't any flower buds yet, though. Should it be developing buds by now?


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springwood_gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

Yes it should have buds.

Quick Fire blooms sporadically, and has been the subject of debate here a few times.

Did you do any pruning at any time going back to last fall?

Mine had 100+ flowers last year but this year only has three. I pruned it in April before it leafed out. This and next year, I will try doing nothing and see what happens.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 6:50PM
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I have not pruned it at all since it was just planted in September. It's still quite small. Maybe it needs more time to settle in?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 7:05PM
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springwood_gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

I'd go with that. Simply do nothing and see what happens next year.

Others have pruned in October only and then did nothing, getting a good bloom. It's when people prune into the new year where problems happen.

(This rule applies to few other hydrangea paniculata.)

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 8:37PM
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I heavily pruned one in fall and it's next to two that were minimally pruned. The heavily pruned one has ZERO buds, and the others are loaded. BUT they were also new in the fall and from a different grower from the heavily pruned one, which I've had for years (and has bloomed, but has never been a strong bloomer).

Mine are in part shade which isn't ideal at all. It seems to me that Quick Fire needs more sun than Limelight, for example.

And this is my own crazy theory, but it seems to me that many of my hydrangeas (Endless Summer, climbing and now maybe Quick Fire and Pinky Winky) bloom much better if they get more sun the PRIOR summer...even when they bloom on new wood. I guess that theory will get tested in 2015 when my three Quick Fires have been in place for their second summer.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 10:09PM
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My Quickfires are already blooming and I am in the same zone as OP.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 7:13AM
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springwood_gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

I agree with the sun statements.

My QF gets sun from dawn til 7pm and doesn't miss a beat.

Last summer was rainy and some new wood blooming macs have been slow to set buds.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 9:05AM
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Thanks for all the follow ups. It may not be getting enough sun--it is in partial shade and gets just a few hours of direct sun (it is at a north west corner of the house and a nearby fence filters the late afternoon sun, but it gets some midday sun). My other hydrangeas are macrophyllas and arborescens that are more shade tolerant. Do you think I should move it or wait another year and see how it settles in?

The truth is I tried to buy a different paniculata and it was mislabeled at the nursery... I found the quick fire tag when I got home and figured I could just make it work. But maybe it is wrong for the site.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 9:16AM
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After a very rough 2013 winter (not to mention a droughty summer) I lost many other dependable perennials, shrubs & bushes, fortunately only lost 2 non-paniculata Hs. Surprisingly both QF & Kyushu have budded early & spotted a few on Limelight as well!!!

All hardy pependables have rebooted from the crown (Oakleaf Hs & what I call Divas) surely not expected to bloom this season!


    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 10:47AM
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So, for all us Bostonians,(North Shore) should we cut the dead wood or leave it alone? All I have are sticks on my blue hydrangeas (and leafing out at the base.) They had some buds set, which died off. I want to go all Edward Scissor hands on the sticks. My lime lite, vanilla strawberry and others like it are doing great.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 9:24AM
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Once you are certain the sticks are dead cut 'em down. Keep on the lookout for leaf buds down low, though- sometimes they surprise you!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 11:47AM
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Yes, in Boston it is now safe to assume the dead wood is not going to leaf out. Agree with cearbhaill that there are probably some leaf buds down low on the otherwise dead sticks. This was a terrible year for macrophyllas because of the cold winter, so you won't get many flowers, but let's hope next year is better.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 1:46PM
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I don't prune my 'Quick Fire' since I want the size where it is planted. It is in almost full sun (just a bit of morning bright shade) and blooms well every year. My memory is that it didn't bloom the first two or three years from a tiny start - it just needed to get large enough. I think it is my favorite plant in a quite large garden, and without a doubt my favorite hydrangea of about a dozen varieties I grow. It blooms most year from the beginning of July through hard frost, and I leave on the dried flowers for winter interest. An all around great plant!
June 30
From 2013

July 9
From clematis on hydrangea July 9, 2013

September 24
From 2013

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 8:20AM
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nhbabs, gorgeous pictures! Is that a clematis growing with it? I love it.

Guess what--I found about 8 tiny flower buds this morning! I'm not sure why they are so late in arriving. Maybe because it's young or in the shade, or maybe it's not a Quick Fire after all? It was double labeled at the nursery--had a sign stuck in the dirt that said something else (now I forget what) and a tag that said Quick Fire. I'll see what the blooms look like once they're bigger and post a picture. Anyway, whatever it is, I'm glad it's going to bloom!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 9:11AM
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Yes, it's Clematis Little Bas, but I can't find it this year - the voles did in a bunch of plants last winter, and I am afraid he was one of them. I loved the combination, and when I replant it will be in a hardware cloth cage as I now plant all clematis and other items I want to live long.

IME there aren't many paniculatas that have the lacy look of 'Quick Fire', though I am not familiar with all of them by any means, so I expect it will be easy to verify if it is QF when it blooms. Late bloom isn't unusual on young or new plants IME.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 9:20AM
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I'm here with an update now that my hydrangea has bloomed. Flowers opened in early August. What do you think it is, based on this photo? I will add one of the whole plant next. Thanks, all!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 10:18PM
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Here's the whole thing--not very tall, maybe three feet. Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 10:21PM
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springwood_gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

That looks like a young/immature Quick Fire that looks like it doesn't get a lot of sun. A couple more years will see the plant fare better. But it looks healthy in those conditions so you've treated it just fine.

Mine is five years old and gets sun from sunup to 5pm. It's newest shoots (because it mostly didn't bloom) shot past 7 feet so I just cut those back to 5 feet before the shrub winds down for fall. Once yours reaches 5 feet you can expect 100+ blooms from it. :)

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 7:47AM
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