No blooms or late blooms at topof ES

peavee(zone 5 mi.)October 12, 2013

I have several ES next to house on N and E sides. They are 4 1/2' tall and very wide. For the last few years they have been blooming mainly from bottom and not blooming toward top until Sept. never used winter protection before and barely cut back in June. Should I winter protect with burlap and leaves so tops dont freeze and how and when to shape them? North side of house has no eaves so they are not too shaded.also have a hedge to protect them from winds.

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You could winter protect but that would only protect the stems and the first bloomage episode that normally occurs early in Spring while you are still full of snow. ES is notorious in this forum for having blooming problems in Zone 5 but your scenario of no blooms until the last flush in September is odd.

I say that because the winter weather problems should not affect the blooms produced by the 2nd bloomage that normally happens around June-ish... or all the other blooming episodes afterwards.

If this problem applies to all the blooming episodes except your last one in September, I would wonder if there are any pests grazing on the blooms instead. Perhaps these pests leave the area by Fall so you finally get blooms. Deer would tend to eat the flower buds near the top and middle sections only. Rabbits would tend to eat flower buds in low hanging stems only or on plants that are not tall yet (in other words, rabbits would only eat flower buds that they can reach).

Moisture problems could kill flower buds and result in no blooms too but it is odd that they are timed to affect all bloomage except for the September blooms. I would expect rains/snow in Spring to provide enough water to produce blooms in June. Moisture problems would also affect some leaves, causing them to brown out early.

If you still want to try winter protecting, do a forum search ("winter protection") as there are many posts talking about that. You usually prepare the area by putting chicken wire 4-6" away from the sides of the plant. The top should also be protected so make sure that the top of the chicken wire is about 4-6" higher than the stems, vertically speaking. You can prepare this early and wait until the plants show signs of going dormant. Then pack them cage full of leaves/hay/etc. Top with a cardboard, held in place with heavy objects so it does not fly away. Extra filler (leaves/etc) should be saved so you can add more in mid-winter due to settling. There are other approaches that involve slowly pressing down a cardboard down until all stems are flush with the soil. Etc.


This post was edited by luis_pr on Sun, Oct 13, 13 at 9:07

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 8:27PM
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Maybe we need some clarification here :-) Bigleaf hydrangeas tend not to bloom very early in more northern climates - June is unheard of in my area and I live in a very mild zone. While hydrangeas here generally need NO protection, the flowering period doesn't really start until July but continues well into the fall, pretty much until a hard frost.

Luis lives in Texas and I have no doubt conditions in his neck of the woods (and in other rather southerly gardens) are quite different as to the bloom season for hydrangeas :-)) I find suggestions to prune in late July/early August - as would be the case down south - to be completely inappropriate in my area.......hydrangeas have only just started blooming, not finishing their bloom cycle! That's why I typically suggest to NOT prune bigleaf hydrangeas (other than removing dead wood) unless you absolutely have to - you WILL be altering the bloom cycle.

In zone 5, I would strongly encourage winter protection if you desire any sort of early/normal bloom season. That will protect not only the outer stems of the plant but any latent buds that have formed on that old growth - the early blooms. This protection should be removed only when any chance of a hard or late spring frost has passed.

It is true that many gardeners have experienced issues with the Endless Summer hydrangeas not performing well in their climates in that it is hard to obtain both old growth flowering AND new growth flowering. IME, one doesn't have a hope of old growth flowering unless winter protection is provided.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 1:42PM
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So you are thinking that peavee's June pruning cut off flower buds that would have resulted in blooms had she not pruned? Yeah, I can see this happening if she has been doing that during those two years when there were problems.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 5:53PM
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Sorry to take so long responding........don't always get to a computer every day :-))

Certainly, pruning in June could have removed any flowerbuds, were there any present. There are no hydrangeas in bloom in June in my area (and I would think also anywhere in zone 5) unless greenhouse-grown or shipped in from California. Either way you look at it, June is either far too late or far too early to prune bigleaf hydrangeas in northerly zones without losing serious bloomage :-))

But I think it is more a case of any latent flowerbuds developing on the old growth being damaged/killed by winter weather. As I stated previously, I would not expect any flowering on old growth without winter protection in zone 6 or below, ES/reblooming hydrangea or not.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 5:40PM
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