Oakleaf hydrangea not blooming

pwhi51September 7, 2013

I have a 5 year old oakleaf hydrangea which has doubled in size since I planted it and looks very healthy and happy. However, it has never bloomed. I had high hopes for this year but nothing.

It is planted on the east side of a row of red cedars and receives 3 hours +/- of morning sun, with considerably more at this time of year.

What am I doing wrong? Is it just not old enough (about 4.5' tall) or does it need more sun?

Like I say, it is growing heartily so I question why no flowers.

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First question: have you been pruning it at all?
First thought: If you haven't been inadvertenly been pruning off the flower buds, and it was a pretty small plant to start with, it might not be mature enough.
Possibly over fertization could produce lots of leaves at the expense of flowers. However, oakleaf hydrangea is a sturdy plant , with a will to live and flower. Honest, if you haven't killed it over the last five years, I'd bet it flower very soon (as long as you're not pruning off those flower buds)

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 8:28PM
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No, I haven't pruned it at all (and don't intend to), nor have I fertilized it, other than a top dressing of compost each spring.
It was approximately a year old when I got it and, like I say, it has grown tremendously since then. In fact, it looks very healthy and happy where it is.

However, I see others in my area growing in nearly full sun with flowers galore, so I question how happy mine really is. I LOVE this plant and have tried to be patient but the waiting is killing me! I just want to be sure I won't be waiting forever if it's in a less than perfect spot.

Thanks for your response!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 11:01AM
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Hydrangeas need acid soil + lots of moisture. Consider the name: I'm reasonably sure 'hydra' is either Greek or Latin for water. Is your soil acid enough to satisfy them?

The soil on my little green acre is healthy & acidic but I don't see many blooms on my hydrangeas in certain beds while others bloom their heads off. My neighbor has them growing in full sun and they've never bloomed in the past dozen (or more) years. My most recent additions are growing in part-sun sandy loam but the area is exposed to the harsh winter winds. I put some of the blame for the lack of blooms down to late-season frosts. The plants themselves are huge & healthy thanks to so much excess rain this season. My non-blooming hydrangeas are all growing on the north side of my garden. Those that have bloomed reliably for the past 40+ years are growing in partial shade along my southern boundary.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 9:20PM
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I can't guess at the answer, then. I'm sorry!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 12:49AM
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I'm betting it has to do with age, but don't know for sure.

I went googling to see if I could find anything about "age to bloom" for oakleaf hydrangea; I didn't find what I was looking for. I did find, on hydrangeashydrangeas.com, the fact that the oakleaf tolerates much drier conditions than most of its relatives.

What I CAN tell you is that whether this plant is in a good location or not may be a moot point - I've had very poor results trying to move these guys. The root systems are extensive - really hard to move, or even to remove.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 12:42PM
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Also from the hydrangeas site, edited for brevity:

O.H. will grow in light shade or mostly sun. Some authorities say it is hardy through Zone 4b/5a.

It does not do well in areas that stay continuously moist.

And ... in the Q/A for non-blooming plants, they say that if it leafs out really early and then gets frozen back, it may lose its buds.

You haven't mentioned your zone, have you? If the plant is in a location where it gets a false sense of spring, by heating up more than the surrounding parts of the garden, it could be breaking dormancy too soon.

However, from that site that we can't name explicitly on GW, in the discussion of O.H., someone from NH wrote that his plant took 3 years to bloom even though it was healthy. He says 'I suggest that you be patient if your oakleaf doesn't bloom the first few years.

Personally, I'd give it another year.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 1:05PM
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Fwiw - I was at Tower Hill twice during August. And their oak leaf hydrangeas had very few blooms. Which makes me think this year is a bad year for oak leaf hydrangeas

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 4:14PM
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Thanks for all the help! For the record, I am in zone 7a and the plant in question does not get an excess of water. There is a row of Oakleaf Hydrangea at my local supermarket, in nearly full sun and they bloomed their little hearts out early this summer.

I guess I'll just give it another year since the plant is so clearly happy and healthy where it is, despite no flowers!

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 11:44PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Mine didn't bloom the first two years after planting and now it blooms a lot.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 7:24AM
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