What’s Wrong with my Hydrangea?

Bradford Greenhouses Blog

Hydrangeas are a classic flowering shrub loved by all gardeners. We love to bring them home, plant them and wait with anticipation for them to bloom. When they are in bloom they are a magnificent sight and are often the highlight of your garden. Like with any plant, hydrangeas need TLC, and in the right conditions they will thrive. Sometimes however, you may encounter some common problems with your hydrangea. You look at it and wonder ‘What did I do wrong?’ The good news is, the majority of any issues with a hydrangea can be easily fixed!

Here are some common problems and solutions:

1) My Hydrangea looks dry and droopy, and the leaves are wilting.


  • Hydrangeas thrive in a location that has morning sun and afternoon shade. If your plant is located in full sun it, will require more water to stay lush and vibrant. To keep the roots moist and cool, try applying mulch or compost around the base of the plant. Too much sun can make your hydrangea wilt and/or burn.

2) My Hydrangea has lots of leaves but it did not bloom.


  • It may not bloom because it is not getting enough sun. If your landscape is mostly sunny (and hot), you may wish to grow the PeeGee (paniculata) hydrangeas, which can take all day sun if they get adequate moisture. They actually need at least 5 hours of sun per day to bloom well.
  • Winter die back may be the cause of no blooms depending on the variety you have. For example, some cultivars such as the Hydrangea macrophylla require old wood to produce the bloom in the spring. This creates a problem if we have a really cold winter and the old wood dies back. This is because the plant is producing new growth and this variety will not bloom on new growth. You will have to wait until the following year to reap the benefits of beautiful blooms.
  • Pruning your hydrangea at the wrong time will prevent your plant from blooming depending on the variety you have. The Hydrangea macrophylla should not be pruned hard after the beginning of August. Just prune the dead blooms off at this point. This variety needs the old wood to produce the flowers the next year.
  • A late spring freeze sometimes occurs in our region. If this happens it can ruin or kill the new developing flower buds. Keeping your hydrangea protected in the spring as long as possible can help protect the new flower buds.
  • Lack of proper nutrients could be the culprit. Too much nitrogen will produce lush green leaves but there may be little to no blooms. Phosphorus is what you need to help produce big beautiful flowers. Adding a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus will definitely help in fixing this problem. Bone meal is another great option to help add phosphorus to the soil.
Knowing the species of the hydrangea you have in your garden will help you when it comes time to prune.

Hydrangea macrophylla (commonly known as ‘Mophead’ hydrangea)


  • Prune in summer before August. They start to set their bloom buds for next year beginning in August

Hydrangea arborescens (commonly known as ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea)


  • Prune after spring once blooms have died off. You can prune back to the ground, or 1/3 of the way down.

Hydrangea paniculata (commonly known as ‘Pee Gee’ and ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas)



  • Prune them anytime except in the summer when they start to set their bloom buds. However, it is not necessary to prune them every year. It is suggested that one trim out crossing branches and those that do not contribute to an attractive form whenever necessary.

Are you looking to identify what type of hydrangea you have? This is an excellent website to visit: http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/identify.html