Hydrangea Bush Not Flowering [Reasons & How to Fix]

Hydrangea blooms in various gorgeous colors, such as pink and blue, and seeing its large clusters of flowers is enough to put a smile on your face. But sometimes, your hydrangea bush might not bloom at all. What causes this, and what can you do to fix it?  

A hydrangea bush might not flower for a variety of reasons, such as if you’ve planted it in an area that gets too much sun or if you’ve fed it too much nitrogen fertilizer in an attempt to boost its growth.

In this article, I’ll explore these and other reasons why your hydrangea bush isn’t displaying any blooms and what you can do to encourage its flowers to grow.

1. Your Hydrangea Is in Too Much Sun

One of the biggest issues hydrangeas face is being planted in an area that provides them with too much sun. Although some hydrangeas perform well when they’re planted in sunny spots in the garden, this isn’t true for all varieties. For example, hydrangea macrophylla likes partial-shade conditions.

If you leave a shade-loving hydrangea bush in an area where it gets too much sun, this could negatively affect its flower growth. 

How To Fix

Generally, most hydrangea varieties want partial shade. What this means is that the area in your garden gets less than five hours of direct sun per day.

Most hydrangea varieties will be intolerant of getting more than five hours of sun per day, especially if the climate in your location is hot. In this case, you will need to water your hydrangea more frequently to offset the negative conditions of being in direct light.

Take your region into account when deciding on the best area of the garden to plant your hydrangea bush. For example, if you live in Zone 4 of the U.S., which includes New England, you can plant hydrangeas in full-sun conditions. 

However, if you live in Zones 7-9, such as southern Utah and North Carolina, the sun could be too harsh for your hydrangea bush, so you should only give it a few hours of early morning sun to encourage it to bloom.

2. Your Hydrangea Has Wet Soil

If you give your hydrangea too little water, this will cause it to wilt and droop. It won’t be healthy enough to produce healthy, gorgeous flowers. While concentrating on giving your hydrangea at least one inch (2.54cm) of water two or three times a week is good to nourish it, you also need to focus on making its soil moist. However, wet soil can cause overwatering problems, such as root rot. 

How To Fix

Make sure that your hydrangea’s soil is slightly moist. It should feel like a well-wrung sponge. Penetrate the soil with your finger up to a depth of about eight inches (20.32cm). If it feels moist, then you know your hydrangea is getting enough water. If it’s dry, you need to water your plant more regularly.

Adding mulch to the base of the hydrangea can also help to preserve the soil’s moisture. You should do this in spring with two inches (5.08cm) of mulch. This serves to maintain greater soil moisture while preventing weeds from growing. Effective mulch ingredients include pine needles, pine bark, and compost. 

3. You’ve Pruned Your Hydrangea During the Fall

You should avoid pruning your hydrangea bush during the fall because the plant will have formed flower buds in preparation for the next growing season. You don’t want to interrupt its blooming process.

How To Fix

You should prune hydrangeas during the spring. However, before pruning them, make sure that you find out if your hydrangea variety sets buds and flowers on old or new wood. Some varieties will form buds on both types of wood growth. By knowing this, you’ll be able to prune the hydrangea properly so you don’t remove stems from where buds are meant to form.

If you don’t know what hydrangea variety you have, check the bush during fall. If you can see some buds on its branches, this indicates that it blooms on old wood.

  • If your hydrangea flowers on old wood, deadhead it in June and July, as this won’t negatively impact its flower growth in the following year.
  • If your hydrangea flowers on new wood, you can prune it at any time of the year except summer.

4. Your Hydrangea Bush Has Too Much Nitrogen

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient that plants require because it’s a building block for plant protoplasm, which is cells’ living matter. Protoplasm is required for flower differentiation and flower bud health, so you don’t want to skimp on giving your hydrangeas this nutrient.

However, giving your hydrangeas too much nitrogen can cause them to experience problems, such as:

  • Damage to their roots.
  • Fewer blooms.
  • Longer stems.
  • Leaf burn.

How To Fix

Choose a slow-release fertilizer for hydrangea shrubs, and only apply it to the bush once a year. I’d recommend Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Miracid Acid-Loving Plant Food (available on Amazon.com). It feeds plants instantly to encourage the growth of lush leaves and beautiful flowers. It’s easy to use as you just have to dilute it in water before applying it to your hydrangeas.

5. Your Hydrangea Bushes Are Too Close Together

One of the things you might love about hydrangeas is that when you’ve planted multiple bushes in the garden, they produce a beautiful blanket of stunning green foliage and colorful blooms. But, there are risks of planting them too closely together, such as:

  • The plants will compete with each other for nutrients and water, which means that they won’t thrive.
  • The plants won’t get enough air circulation. This can lead to issues such as fungal diseases. Powdery mildew that appears on the leaves is an example. Since it can damage new buds, reduce the plant’s humidity by increasing its air circulation to prevent this disease.

Both of the above will cause the hydrangea bush to struggle to grow, wilt, or droop.

How To Fix

When planting multiple hydrangea bushes in the garden, remember that they can grow from between two to six feet (1.8 meters) in height, so you want to give them enough space. A guideline to follow is to choose a distance between bushes that’s the equivalent of how large the bushes are expected to reach.

For example, if your hydrangea bush is going to grow to a height of four feet (1.2 meters), make sure you place it four feet (1.2 meters) away from another bush to prevent overcrowding. 

6. Your Hydrangea Bush Is Less Than a Year Old

If your hydrangea is still a juvenile plant, it won’t flower within the first year of having been planted. This is because it will be growing a root system and adjusting to the environment, so there’s not a lot of energy that’s dedicated to growing flowers. 

How To Fix

While you’ll have to be patient for your hydrangea bush to bloom, remember that hydrangea can take between two and five years to flower, during this time, you must care for it properly to ensure that it eventually does produce flowers.

Give it enough sun and water while fertilizing it sparingly, and your hydrangea bush should bloom successfully.

7. Your Hydrangeas Are Being Eaten by Deer

People who stay in suburban or rural areas might find that their hydrangea leaves and flower buds are being eaten by deer. These animals can wipe out flowers on entire bushes, preventing them from displaying blooms in the growing season.

Deer are especially problematic for hydrangeas during early spring or late in the winter when they’re trying to find more food sources. Since they’re hungry, they’ll eat many parts of the hydrangea, such as its stems, flowers, and branches. 

How To Fix

You will have to protect your hydrangea bushes from deer. You can do this in various ways, such as by installing wire or fencing. Netting that’s specifically designed to prohibit deer is also effective.

A type of deer netting I’d recommend is Feitore Deer Fence Netting, available on Amazon. It’s strong and durable as it’s made from polypropylene, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking easily.

Besides deterring deer, it can be used to keep other animals out of your flower gardens, such as rabbits and chickens.

If you’re trying to protect young or newly-established hydrangea bushes from deer, you should cover the plants with netting and keep them on stakes. This will protect the young plants when they’re trying to form buds so that nothing gets in the way of their growth.

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It’s disappointing when your hydrangea bush doesn’t flower. There are some common reasons why this happens, but also solutions for the problems. Some of the best ways to encourage your hydrangea bush to flower include:

  • Planting hydrangea in the sun or partial shade, depending on your hardiness zone.
  • Keeping the soil of your hydrangeas moist but not too wet.
  • Lightly pruning your hydrangea bush during the spring.

Avoiding overcrowding by not planting hydrangea bushes too close to each other.

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