‘Costly mistake’ to avoid with hydrangeas that results in ‘no flowers at all’

Adored for their large flowers in an array of soft colours from white to red, hydrangeas have become a very common and popular shrub in most gardens.

These plants have so many uses in the garden from hedges to foundation plantings to container gardens.

But there’s nothing more depressing than getting to summer when hydrangeas bloom, and not seeing any blooms or minimal flowers on the plant.

Hydrangeas can be tricky to get accustomed to, and they have a few little quirks that could give novice and experienced gardeners a little bit of trouble.

To avoid making any mistakes, gardening expert Ben Hilton, founder and Editor of The Gardening Fix, has shared how to avoid three of the most common mistakes when it comes to growing hydrangeas.

Mistake one: Pruning off flowering buds

Pruning is considered important for hydrangeas as it prevents these plants from becoming woody and congested, and channels the plants’ energy into producing strong growth and large blooms.

However, Ben warned that pruning these stunning flowers at the “wrong time of year” is “the most costly mistake” for sure.

He explained: “The flowering buds are often accidentally cut off by incorrect pruning meaning no flower at all.

“Hydrangea macrophylla and quercifolia bloom on old wood, so they need pruning directly after flowering in autumn.

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“Hydrangea paniculate and arborescent bloom on new wood, so they can be pruned in late winter or early spring.”

Mistake two: underwatering 

While overwatering a hydrangea can stunt its growth and slow down its production of blooms, hydrangea needs consistent moisture levels to reach a “successful full bloom”. 

The signs of underwatered hydrangeas are wilting, leaves that are folded or rolled and if the soil is dry to the touch or an inch or more into the ground.

The expert advised: “Regular deep watering twice per week, with the application of a good layer of organic mulch, will return fantastic blooms all summer.”

Mistake three: Incorrect soil pH

Many gardeners fertilise their hydrangea expecting show-stopping displays of flowers, only to be disappointed. 

Ben said: “This is usually down to incorrect soil pH limiting the plant’s ability to effectively absorb the nutrients and transport them around the plant.”

For most hydrangea varieties, slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.2 and 6.2 is “ideal”.

The expert suggested gardeners use a soil test kit to amend the soil and then apply a phosphorus 10-20-10 fertiliser in spring.

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