Variegated hydrangea not flowering

bluerose007October 3, 2012

How do I get this hydrangea to flower.

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Mariesii Variegata should flower well but it may not do much if...

* you pruned it at the wrong time of the year (it produces flower buds for Spring in July-ish so -for example- pruning in or after July 2012 cuts the blooms that will open in Spring 2013),

* if you feed it too much fertilizer (1/2 cup to 1 cup of compost, composted manure or cottonseed meal in May and July in the south is enough; once in June in the norther half of the country is also enough for the whole year; can also use a general-purpose slow-release chemical fertilizer like Osmocote on those same dates),

* if you plant it where it is too cold (Zone 5 winters or colder may start killing flower buds so winter protection may be necessary; make sure it has 3-4" of mulch year around up to the drip line) or

* if you hard prune it drastically (it may either not bloom or may bloom just a fraction of normal on the next year; it will revert back to normal blooming after taking that one year break).

Luis

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 6:01AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Mariesii Variegata should flower well but it may not do much if...

* you pruned it at the wrong time of the year (it produces flower buds for Spring in July-ish so -for example- pruning in or after July 2012 cuts the blooms that will open in Spring 2013),

* if you feed it too much fertilizer (1/2 cup to 1 cup of compost, composted manure or cottonseed meal in May and July in the south is enough; once in June in the norther half of the country is also enough for the whole year; can also use a general-purpose slow-release chemical fertilizer like Osmocote on those same dates),

* if you plant it where it is too cold (Zone 5 winters or colder may start killing flower buds so winter protection may be necessary; make sure it has 3-4" of mulch year around up to the drip line) or

* if you hard prune it drastically (it may either not bloom or may bloom just a fraction of normal on the next year; it will revert back to normal blooming after taking that one year break).

Luis

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 6:15AM
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springwood_gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

Variegated hydrangeas are extremely bud-hardy, but because of this, they break dormancy too early in the Spring, leaving them open to freeze damage.

Hence they often "tend not to bloom"...

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 12:37PM
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bluerose007

I am in zone 5a. This plant pretty much dies down to the ground.Maybe that could be the reason. I will try to mulch it and see if that helps with the blooming

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 10:56PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

No, that will not help. If you live in Z5, the shrub is planted out of zone. You need to either grow it in a pot that stays indoors during winter or you need to winter protect the plant.

This hydrangea creates flower buds during the July-August time frame. These flower buds are invisible and will open in Spring 2013 but here is the problem... the stems die out during winter because it gets too cold for them. When the stems die, so do the flower buds in them. The roots, however, survive as they are protected underground so the plant grows new stems in Spring. And the cycle repeats.

As soon as the plant begins to go dormant, use chicken wire to cage it. The chicken wire can then be filled with straw or dried out leaves. Make sure that the ends of the stems have at least 6" between them and the chicken wire (sideways and at the top). To make sure the leaves do not fly off, put a cardboard on top, with a few bricks or rocks to hold it in place. The top of the plant should be about 6" or more underneath the cardboard in order to protect stems that are growing upwards. Pack as much straw or as many leaves as you can. The more you have, the better insulated the plant is. Most of the flower buds are at the end of the stems so this is the area to protect. In the middle of winter, add more leaves or straw as settling usually occurs by mid winter; check the sides and the top to maintain the 6" of separation (or more).

You are close to that point in time when you need to protect so feel free to buy the ingredients now (the chicken wire, straw, etc). You can most dried out leaves that you can find too. Some people place the chicken wire around the shrub as soon as Fall starts and then wait for the plant to begin showing signs of dormancy before adding the leaves or straw.

Winter protection can be removed in the Spring, about two weeks after your average date of last freeze. The straw can then be used as mulch or dumped in the compost pile. The leaves can go in the compost pile. Sometimes the stems will look white-ish when you remove the winter protection but that is ok. It occurs when the weather is warm and the plant awakes and puts on growth while still winter protected.

Good luck,
Luis

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 7:51AM
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bluerose007

Thanks for the tip. I will try that.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 8:39AM
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peicook

Just read these postings. Did anyone try Luis's ideas for winter protection and if so, did yours flower? I have the exact situation, lots of beautiful foliage but no flowers. ZOne 6B, PEI
Canada

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 11:48AM
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springwood_gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

I'd call most variegated types a bust anywhere but zone 7 or higher. Or at least stick to a sheltered area such as a foundation, etc.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 10:52AM
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gardengal48

The variegated forms - 'Mariesii Variegata' in particular - are not known for producing abundant flowers. Even in my mild zone 8 climate where winter protection is unnecessary they bloom very sparsely. IMO, these are valued much more for their gorgeous foliage effect than they are for their flowers.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 2:07PM
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hokierustywilliamsbu

Sparse blooms here also. Very easily damaged in the Spring by frosts. More of a novelty and needs to be sited well. In zone 5 flowers will be difficult-some but never expect many.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 6:26PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Yep not a bloomer. I even tried to mulch it in a cage of leaves and pine needles. I am growing a clematis through it and use the bush for the beautiful foliage.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 12:14PM
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