Hydrangea paniculata 'Bombshell' is no bust

Dayscapes_z7a_MDJune 17, 2013

Here are some Hydrangea paniculata 'Bombshells' that I came across at Lowes recently. They really looked great.

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mzdee(6b)

Gotta say they sure do look great. My Lowes doesn't have anything that looks that good. They have lots of Endless Summer in so so condition. Nothing that makes me wanna buy at full price. Although I did get a brestenburg hydrangea at Aldis a few weeks back. It is in full bloom and doing really well. It was beautiful, healthy and best of all 9.99 :)

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 7:46PM
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Dayscapes_z7a_MD

I purchased several of these last year on end-of-season clearance. I wanted something smaller to replace my 'Limelights' which were growing too big for their space despite heavy pruning.

I planted my 'Bombshells' this spring despite some mixed reviews on their performance. I am glad I did. They have great branching and flower panicles are beginning to form on each branch. Looks like it will be loaded with blooms in no time. Here is a pic of one of my 'Bombshells' and a close up of the panicles beginning to form.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 8:29PM
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kvenkat(5a Colo)

Mine is in a big pot and is going on its third year. The foliage is bushy and looks really good. Pannicles not yet forming but soon, I hope. Will post a pic when it blooms.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 12:02AM
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Dayscapes_z7a_MD

The panicles are beginning to open. Looks like it will be a good performer.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 12:06AM
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macgyver2009

My bombshell seems to be a bust this year. It went into the ground last year and bloomed beautifully all season. This year, nothing. It has grown well, but no flowers. My Limelight, Pink Diamond and Pinky Winky are loaded with buds, but nothing on Bombshell. Anyone else having a similar experience? The nursery where I bought it stopped carrying Bombshell because other customers complained about it not blooming. Maybe it's an issue in the northern states.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 8:07PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Oh, oh. That is not a good thing. Especially because they advertised that Bombshell blooms earlier than other paniculatas.

Although I do not have one, I wonder what's up with that plant? What could be going on at the time that it is supposed to be developing the flower buds in May-June that results in late bloomage or no bloomage? Hmmm. Anything special that you can remember from those two months (weather-wise, rain-wise, fertilizer-wise, lack of water-wise, windy-wise, cloudy-wise)? How much different is its location? I assume it has not had water problems, is not in more shade than the others? Have you used any unique/unusual/rare products on it?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 9:24PM
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hcmcdole(z7)

Maybe it needs more sun? One of mine is in partial shade and half of the plant that is in lots of sun is blooming fairly well while the rest of the plant has no buds to speak of (so far).

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 10:14AM
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macgyver2009

My Bombshell is in a full sun position, sun until 5:00 p.m. We have had adequate rain this year. The plant looks good, nice and full with lots of new growth, just no blooms. We did have some late freezes this spring, but that shouldn't have hurt it. Like I said, all of my other paniculatas are full of buds. I'll give it another year and see what happens.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 3:23PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

How much fertilizer do you apply to it and how often?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 6:40PM
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macgyver2009

Luis,

I haven't applied any fertilizer. I haven't needed to fertilize any of my paniculatas, but maybe that is the problem. What would you recommend?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 9:42AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Well, what I had in mind is that maybe it was getting too much fertilizer. When they get too much nitrogen, they tend to produce nice lush leaves and little or no blooms.

I normally give them a cup of cottonseed meal, compost or composted manure, whichever I have handy in the Spring. A single application will do the whole year. Sometimes, I may add some liquid fish or liquid seaweed. Coffee grounds too but I stop fertilizing by the end of June so the fertilizers will not make the plant stay in 'growth mode" in the Fall.

Some years, I have failed to fertilize too and have not noticed any problems. It concerns me that a tough plant such as a paniculata would not be blooming though. At least not without something obvious going on that would account for the problem (say deer eating the flower buds, lack of rain that would make the plant abort the flower buds, etc.)

I hope yours is just late for some reason!

This post was edited by luis_pr on Sun, Jul 7, 13 at 13:52

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 1:50PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

I inquired about the blooming problem to Ball Horticultural and they replied that they now recommend not pruning Bombshell.

I am now trying to get clarification on exactly when should it not be pruned. I assume pruning it in the Spring is a problem because it develops flower buds "too early". I will post again when I get an update.

Luis

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 6:35PM
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gumneck 7A Virginia

My bomshell has nice green growth but no buds and no blooms. I bought it at a Lowes end of season clearance last year and it was blooming. It's planted near yarrow.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 3:41PM
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Dayscapes_z7a_MD

Here's a more recent pic of mine with blooms opening wider. I remember reading something about not pruning in the spring too(as Luis had mentioned). Maybe there is something to that.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 11:34PM
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macgyver2009

I didn't prune mine, just snipped off the old flowers. It is a charming shrub when it is blooming. Mine looks just like gumneck's this year. Sure wish it looked like yours. We'll see what next year brings. It did develop nicely in structure this year. We did have some late freezes this year and maybe it just needed a year to get settled into it's outside space.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 8:58AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

I got an unexpected answer. Bally Horticultural really meant do not prune the plant, as in no pruning period. "We are seeing, that, depending on where you are living, that the plant responds to no pruning for best bloom." I would assume that deadheading is not considered pruning but after that odd comment, who knows if they do not want us to deadhead either... Maybe they just do not know precisely what is the problem and figure 'no pruning period' should be the answer to all inquiries....

I hope you guys get some bloomage even it starts late.

I was touching base with someone who had problems with her 2 y/o Limelight in Z5a. This year, the shrub did not bloom. I told her to wait until mid July because that was the latest bloom date that I could find in all places I looked and she lucked out because the flower buds opened and started their broccoli stage over the weekend. So maybe some of the Bombshells out there will do the same too.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 9:54PM
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Ruth_MI(z5MI)

OT, but in reply to the comment above about LImelights...they don't bloom here until the end of July. Some of mine are just starting to bud, and some (in almost full sun) have been budding a week or two. Zone 5/6.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 9:38AM
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hammybee(z5/Chicago)

I have 14 Bombshells. This year I did not prune some, lightly pruned others and hard pruned the rest. The ones left unpruned have flowered the best to the point that the shrub opens in the middle and it flops under the weight of the flowers.

Those that were lightly pruned have a dusting of flowers. The hard pruned ones are lush with so sign of buds.

We had a cold spring and early summer so we'll see how the season goes from here.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 4:18PM
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Dayscapes_z7a_MD

That's a nice experiment that you conducted....definitely seems to support a link between pruning and flowering. I didn't prune mine and have had a a nice bloom as well. Because of its compact size and heavy branching, I don't really see a need to prune this hydrangea.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 7:20PM
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Ruth_MI(z5MI)

By the way, luis_pr, it was really helpful that you contacted Ball and then reported in. I've seen these on clearance recently and was interested in learning more before I decided whether to devote any garden space to one. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 9:00PM
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kvenkat(5a Colo)

Here is my nearly 3 year old plant. Has a little rust on it but otherwise okay.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 1:23PM
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Dayscapes_z7a_MD

Kvenkat...looks like it is blooming nicely. Do you prune it at all or just let it grow? I'm still curious to hear more about the potential impact of pruning on flowering.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 12:59AM
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JudyannZ7(z7aOK)

I too purchased Bombshell on clearance at Lowes late last summer, needing something to hold soil in a deep shade garden. Well, it has done beautifully, but no blooms, and here at the end of July, I sure expected blooms. Now I realize that while it does thrive otherwise in the full shade garden, there is no evidence of bloom coming this year. I didn't prune either. The garden is right at the edge of the fescue lawn, so benefits from lawn fertilizer over-broadcast. Therefore, I haven't fertilized it specifically.

Seems to me it just needs some light through the canopy to bloom. I'll take what I can get to grow there!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 8:01PM
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Dayscapes_z7a_MD

Judyann....Paniculata type hydrangeas like "Bombshell" require a good amount of sun to put on the best flowering show. In deep shade the flowering really suffers no matter what the label says. A macrophylla can handle substancially more shade but even still benefits from some morning sun.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 1:37AM
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JudyannZ7(z7aOK)

Thank you Days. Good to know. I'm from a part of the state where hydrangeas were an oddity, but they seem happy here (with the exception of this one not blooming)!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 10:15PM
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kvenkat(5a Colo)

Dayscapes, no I have not pruned at all. Have not seen any need to do it as of yet.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 2:18PM
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janet400(6B)

I am renovating the entranceway to our neighborhood and am interested in planting bombshells. One side gets only morning sun until 12:30, and the other side gets afternoon sun. Will they bloom with 4.5 to 6 hours of sun? Also, I have read that they only grow 2 1/2-3 feet wide and tall. Have you found this to be true? The space cannot take five foot plants. Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 6:11PM
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Ruth_MI(z5MI)

Janet,

You might want to read this link before you buy those bombshells. There have been issues with them not blooming.

Here is a link that might be useful: bombshell bloom issues

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 7:12PM
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Dayscapes_z7a_MD

Even though I ended up having pretty good luck with my Bombshells this summer, I will say that they don't give nearly the same impact as Limelights. The Bombshell flowers are looser and smaller and can get a little lost. Little Lime may be a better option if you need to go smaller but still want to maintain the impact.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 7:42PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Interesting description. For some reason, you just remineded me of how Crape Myrtles look this time of the year! The CM flowers are not smaller but fewer, of course, and they can get a little lost if you do not stop to look slowly.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 7:49PM
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