Misc. Hydrangea Questions

suzieque(z5 MA)July 16, 2012

Hi all -

I'm new to this forum and hope that you have patience with me! I have fallen in love with hydrangeas over the past couple of years. I now have 8 and they are in various stages of grown and bloom. Here are some issues/questions.

1) Pinky Winky (my favorite), Limelight), and Little Lamb (I think) - the growth is phenominal. Last year they bloomed beautifully and fully. Toward the end of the season they each sent up tall shoots. This year, they're not really blooming as well as I'd hoped. Pinky Winky more than the other 2, but really not nearly as much as last ear when they were all outstanding. But again, they're really growing. Should I have pruned them? Cut those tall shoots?

2) Quickfire - hasn't really done much of anything in the 2 years I've had it. It died back to the ground at the end of last year and this year as grown up about a foot. Nice leaves, but absolutely no blossoms.

3) Light O'Day - Again, growth is Ok (not fabulous), but not a bloom in sight (I planted it year before last; no blooms yet at all). Interestingly, the leaves are supposed to be varigated and those from last year are. But the new leaves are healthy but totally green.

I think I have them in the right places according to sun/shade preferences, and I gave them all some slow-release fertilizer in the spring. Any thoughts?

I've also just planted 2 Abracadabra Orbs and an Abracadabra Star - wish me luck with those!

Thanks -


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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Pruning of macrophyllas that only bloom on old wood will reduce bloomage in Spring. But Light O'Day is supposed to rebloom and all the paniculatas that you mentioned bloom on new wood so, bloomage problems would occur if a pest (rabbits and-or deer) ate the flower buds, if you pruned them as they are getting ready to produce flower buds, if late frosts damaged the flower buds, if there are soil moisture problems at the time of flower bud formation, etc

Light O'Day blooms on old and new wood. Old wood's flower buds would have developed flower buds around July-August 2011 and would have hold on to it until Spring 2012. Lack of bloomage in Spring 2012 suggests that either the flower buds died sometime on or before Spring or the buds did not die but one of the above mentioned causes wiped them out.

Slow-release fertilizer in Spring would not necessarily be a problem unless a late frost caught the plants awake and unprepared a few days after they developed the flower buds. In MA, I would fertilize in June while using "weak" fertilizers like cofee grounds thru most of the growing season. Then I would stop fertilizing at the end of June-ish.

Because so many varieties got hit with the same problem and the plants do not show signs of disease, I would lean towards a weather-related problem. As an example which mirrors yours, several years ago, Winter was late coming to Texas and we had temperatures in the 70s thru mid-December. Then for almost a weel, we got hit with freezing temperatures that reduced my total bloomage to just 2 blooms on two separate plants, most of the plants having none.

I would expect that Light O'Day will produce blooms before the end of the growing season. However, it may put off doing that until the worst of the summer temperatures are over.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 8:37PM
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suzieque(z5 MA)

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond so completely, Luis. Very generous of you. I've got to read up and learn more to fully understand :-) especially about macrophyllas and paniculatas as I don't know what the are (I do understand that they're types of hydrangeas).

We had a very mild winter in MA; only a couple of snow storms (a very bad one in my area in late October). Otherwise, as far as I'm concerned we can have winters like that every year!

I didn't prune any of them at all, by the way. Should I? And, if so, does that mean that I should prune off those new tall stems if more come this year? I'm such a newbie. Sorry.

Thanks, too, for the information about fertilizing; good to know. I'll do it that way next year.

All-in-all, very disappointing this year, especially after such a glorious year in 2011. Oh well - perhaps next year. I love my hydrangeas regardless, and I am absolutely going to learn more so that I can properly care for them.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 9:03PM
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springwood_gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

Similar problems with Quick Fire this year here. Only about a dozen blooms at the very top of a 5ft tall plant. I pruned it in March but I will try Fall this time around and see if it makes a difference.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 12:15AM
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I hard prune Little Lamb, Lime Light and Pinky Winky in very early Spring. I hard prune Quick Fires in Fall. Made a mistake pruning QF before in Spring and only received a few flowers in fall. Wish I could leave the spent blooms on till Spring to enjoy in the Winter like other Hydrangeas in the yard. Light O'Day I have owned along with others I know. In my opinion and theirs it was a dud and does not bloom on new growth, only old. Along with it needs extreme winter protection to protect old wood compared to other Mac Hydrangeas. I gave my LOD away and my parents shovel pruned theirs. Here is a pic of my QF & Little Lamb this year. My PW & Lime Light have set nice buds but is still to early for flowers.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 12:20AM
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springwood_gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

Thats it- whether or not they are or aren't, Quick Fires behave like old wood bloomers. Fall prune only!

As far as I know, LOD is just an improvement over Mariesii Variegata, with tougher glossy leaves, a bit better hardiness, with a lack of tendancy to revert to solid green foliage.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 7:09PM
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