Why Aren’t My Hydrangeas Blooming – and How to Fix It!

If you’ve ever asked yourself, Why aren’t my hydrangeas blooming?, you’ve come to the right place. Learn how to prevent winter kill on hydrangeas. If your hydrangeas look like dead sticks, read my winter kill hydrangeas care tips. This article also discusses ways to protect hydrangeas from cold because winterizing hydrangeas is important for the health of these ornamental shrubs.

Winter Kill Hydrangeas Care - Understand why your hydrangeas are not blooming kellyelko.com #hydrangeas #perennials #hydrangea #gardening #gardener #gardeningtips #winterkill #kellyelko

To make a long story short, your hydrangeas aren’t blooming because of the harsh winter! If your hydrangeas are pathetic brown sticks like mine, join me in a moment of silence then read on to see what you can do about it.

Frigid winter temperatures, as well as winter winds, can cause winter kill on hydrangeas. The low winter temperatures can kill the plant, or they might die because of drying out caused by winds.

The back story: After two hydrangea-less summers (thanks to the “pro” that mutilated my hydrangeas one spring), I was not happy. Make sure to read this post … When to Prune Hydrangeas, so this doesn’t happen to you.

Don’t miss my Complete Guide to Hydrangea Care Here

I cried, I prayed, I may have even created a vision board (picture me frolicking through a valley with armloads of hydrangeas in my arms) to will those blooms into happening.

My hopes were dashed when the winter frost wreaked havoc on my sanity and my precious hydrangeas.

So now instead of blooms, or even lush green leaves, I am left staring at ugly brown sticks with not a bud in sight.

Why did my hydrangeas die! How to make sure they thrive kellyelko.com #gardening #gardeningtips #gardens #perennials #kellyelko

These babies are fighters! Peek deep down into the heart of the sad little hydrangea and you can see its Rocky-like leaves reaching towards the sun.

Winter kill hydrangea care tips - there is hope for them! kellyelko.com #gardening #gardeningtips #gardens #perennials #kellyelko

Not exactly a page out of Better Homes & Gardens, my sticks need an intervention.

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Dead hydrangea branches - tips on what to do so they thrive kellyelko.com #gardening #gardeningtips #gardens #perennials #kellyelko

How to Care for Winter Kill Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are dormant in winter so check your hydrangeas in the spring to see if any green buds are on the brown canes.

Green Buds on Brown Canes – DO NOT CUT the brown branches – they are alive and should bloom. Just prune out the canes that are dead (no green buds on them).

No Green Buds on Brown Canes (buds may even be black) – cut all canes to the base of the plant – making sure to leave the new growth green leaves at the base of the hydrangea.

Note: if you don’t have any green buds on the brown canes by mid-May, cut them. 

What to Expect: Your hydrangeas should grow to at least the same size they were last year.

Will they bloom this year? Old wood hydrangeas won’t bloom, new wood/old wood hydrangeas may bloom later in the summer and new wood hydrangeas will bloom as usual. Check out this post to learn the different types of hydrangeas.

I Swear by This Fertilizer for Hydrangeas 

Winterize Hydrangeas: Lay down a thick layer of mulch or or straw over the root area at the base of the plants to help protect them from the long, cold winter. If you want even more protection for your hydrangeas, cover the bushes with a wire cage, (try building a cage with chicken wire and stakes), then wrap burlap around the cage.

If your canes are dead, you can remove them from the hydrangea.

Make sure your pruning shears are clean and sharp.

I love these pruning shears.

Get Blue Hydrangeas with this Soil Acidifier!

Care for dead hydrangea branches - there is hope after all! kellyelko.com #gardening #gardeningtips #gardens #perennials #kellyelko

Seventeen of my hydrangeas were affected – can you feel my pain.

How to care for dead hydrangea branches kellyelko.com #gardening #gardeningtips #gardens #perennials #kellyelko

The only one happy about this whole debacle is my dog, Sushi.

Boston Terrier with a pile of sticks! kellyelko.com #gardening #gardeningtips #gardens #perennials #kellyelko

The moral of the story – you can’t fight Mother Nature and I’ll never make another vision board again (thanks for nothing Oprah)!

If you’re looking for a unique hydrangea that has reliable, show stopping blooms, you need a Summer Crush hydrangea in your life!

Don’t miss my Complete Guide to Hydrangeas Here

Read my Summer Crush Hydrangea care tips here

More of my gardening tips …

Read How to Grow Peonies Here

Read My Limelight Hydrangea Growing Tips Here

Endless Summer Hydrangea Tips Here

Here’s to having a happy and healthy, hydrangea filled garden. The comment section below is a great place to learn from others who have chimed in or feel free to leave your questions or comments.

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  1. I know exactly what you are going through here in Connecticut. My hydrangeas as well as those of all of my gardening buddies look just like yours – so very sad! Mine line both sides of my long driveway and always put on an amazing show of bloom, but not this year – oh well. I also lost my magnolia and lilac buds. The paniculata hydrangeas weren’t affected, so at least I will have their blooms.

  2. The former owners of our rental mowed everything to the ground. When we looked at the house, the weeds were knee high but I could spy some perennials. Last year I found the tiny remains of the hydrangea bush. This year it’s a little bigger. I won’t expect blooms for 5 years but we’ll get there…as long as the renters don’t mow it down!

    1. I made metal cages from 3/8″ rebar to go over some small trees to protect them from being trampled. In the months of frost possibilities I wrapped them with strings of white lights. The lights put off just enough heat to protect the plants from frost damage. The lights are not LED. We decided we like the lights and left them year round. I hang small hummingbird feeders or decorative hanging art at the top of the U of cages.

          1. Me 2. In Johannesburg’s SA we get heavy frost so I cut my flowers shorter and cover them with frost cover till September when spring Start’s how ever this year in the second week off spring and after warm days we suddenly get a shot of heavy frost 2 nights in a row so I had to cut back the bushes again to re over from frost and now they don’t want to bloom?? We moved 2 years ago!. I took them with me! 1 winter I left them in big pots where they where planted in and just cover them! After the with her I planted them in new garden and they grow good!! Only 2 had a few flowers on now this poast winter was when frost get to them in spring. Only one bloom with 1 flower I did buy them some hydrangea food and already gave them 2 times of it! They are very strong plants but still do not bloom!! Hope maybe later in summer especially now after very good rains!. Will let you now what happend

        1. We had a frost warning yesterday I have lights strung on my deck railing around my plants! They did great! This young lady may have just the ticket there to keep our plan to warm in the winter

      1. Melody, You should post a picture, I would LOVE to see that. Kelly, as for the winter kill-I got it too here in Wisconsin. ***sigh*** But, They are coming along nicely now and are LOADED with gorgeous blue blooms.

        1. This is my first year of planting in spring they got his by a late frost. We trimmed out and the grew and had blooms but seem to want to lay on ground. Should I put cages on them thru the winter. I’m a TN gal so we never know what our winter will be.

  3. All of us in the East who were hit with those mean Spring frosts have sad hydrangeas.
    My go to garden center recommended cutting back with the same guide lines you mentioned.
    He also said to spread/work in some Plant Tone to help them get back on their feet.

    Crazy Mother Nature, lilacs, irises, peonies have been crazy beautiful in New Jersey this spring.

    We always have Limelight and next year to look forward to.
    Happy gardening Kelly

      1. My peonies for the first year have blooms on them. What do I do? How do I water them? They’re in a pot outside and I just got three bare roots to bury in my yard somewhere! I am so in need of help

  4. I’ve been stressing over my hydrangeas, mine looks exactly the same! I live in the lowere Hudson Valley & I can’t remember having 80o weather followed by a hard freeze like this. This particular one had the most beautiful pink/purple/blue tones on each flower,my favorite,took yrs. to bloom,now this! I’ve noticed the stems aren’t dead but not budding yet either,I have green leaves coming from the bottom also. I consider Limelight one the work horses of the garden, they’re fine, they put on a show with the color changes & then I dry them & enjoy all winter. Thanks for the info. It’s good to know I’m not the only one struggling with this.

  5. My hydrangeas at my previous house always looked like yours every spring. It was so frustrating. All those sticks were a paint to have to cut and discard. Good tips about the green and black buds. Here in SC the two hydrangeas in the yard are happily blooming…pink! 🙂

  6. I love hydrangeas but mine are slow this year too! I need some limelight and peonies!

      1. I was told by my friend who has a peony bush that each bud has to get covered by ants for it to bloom. Is this true of yours also?

  7. Hello Kelly , been awhile since i made a comment, love the flowers , i have many as well in the new place, what do you put in your flower beds for the weeds that wont kill your flowers and is pet friendly, as ive told you i have 3 boston terriers and i need pet friendly products

  8. Your hydrangea are supposed to look like that. There are two types of hydrangea….those that grow leaves and flowers on old wood and those that grow leaves and flowers from new wood…yours are the later. Just cut back the old wood each spring and you’ll have a beautiful new bush each year. If your hydrangea is the type that grows on old wood you’ll see the leaves sprouting from the branches left from last year…sometimes these are slow in developing. Once you see the leaves sprouting just trim out the dead wood. If you cut back the type that grow on old wood you’ll never get flowers. Always look up the type of hydrangea you purchase to see which of these two varieties you have, that will help you know what to expect and especially how to prune them. Good luck!!!

    1. Was just going to say the same thing. We cut back every spring and they are almost above the bottom of the window now.

    2. I was wondering why no one was posting this. Obviously, as with most perennials, you must cut back the old growth and let the new leaves grow up.

  9. I have had PeeGee Hydragenas around my deck for 12 years. I have always had gorgeous flowers with healthy blooms. I never did much as far as clean up after the winter. However, Last summer there wasn’t one flower. Not one! so I started fertilizing the plants every other week the rest of the summer. This spring, I cleaned out the dead wood and mulched. Thankfully those gorgeous flowers are back!

  10. Oh em geee!!!! I feel your pain, on so many levels. I live in Edmonton (zone 4) and have 4 big leaf hydrangeas (zone 7) that i baby all winter. This is year 3 with them and they too looked very similar to your. I just trimmed em back last weekend and my boston terrier did also enjoy all the new chew sticks. I am hopeful and proud that they at least survived where most of my neighbors regular hydrangeas weren’t so lucky. This is my firat year with peonies so i am excited abiut those as well. (Thanks for sharing your experienced green thumb) mine are very new but very green as well.

  11. Goodness, I just take the garden shears to them when the flowering has finished and hope for the best! but each year they pay me back by being amazing! I trim right down to the foliage and ignore brown or whatever! And they just love a good feed once in a while! You can also manipulate colour, either blue or pink. Try it, its so cute when your blues turn out pink!

    1. Here is the formula for color. I get all 3 colors on ours. Must have fun soil here lol.

      For true blue flowers, the hydrangeas need to be grown in acidic soil (pH 5.5 and lower). For pink flowers, the plants need neutral to alkaline soils (pH 6.5 and higher). For purple blooms (or a mix of blue and pink flowers on the same plant), the pH of the soil must be 5.5 and pH 6.5.

  12. I too feel all your pain. I have one at the front of the house that blooms big beautiful purple and pink blooms. The one in the back yard has never done well. I moved it to the front this spring so hopefully it will get better. I have to say I love your beautiful BT. I am a Boston mommy also. They are awesome fur babies.

    1. I had to move one that was getting too much sun from the front of my house to the back and it was thriving and huge … until this year! Brown sticks that I cut down – fingers crossed for next year! Here’s to cute Bostons Angela!

  13. Add alum sulfate to these guys in the late fall at a high rate. I cut mine down every fall and add the sulfate. I have the biggest blooms and everyone always tells me how nice they look.

  14. Mine looked the same but no green leaves anywhere. When I check the roots the look green and healthy. It’s been this way for 3 months. Still hoping for green leaves.

  15. Mine have been like that for 2 years now. One of mine bloomed in October last year. This year all but one has blooms on them. I trimmed back all the stalks that did not have any buds early Spring and got them growing right again

    1. So glad I found this post. Moved to a new home and I could not understand why the previous owner left the hydrangeas the way she did. I pruned before I read, but ended up doing it correctly. Did not like 3 or 4 tall stalks left with buds so I cut them and stuck them into the ground and so far (3 weeks later) seem to have rooted as leaves growing.

  16. Thanks, I have been wondering whether I should cut my canes back. This is exactly how mine look after the weird whether this past winter and early spring.

  17. This is my fourth year for my hydrangea and it has never bloomed. Each spring I cut off the dead sticks the new greenery makes a beautiful plant. This year I left the dead sticks after reading it might bloom on those. I don’t know the name of it. Why has it not bloomed?

  18. Your term “winterkill” is a miss-understanding. Hydrangeas are SUPPOSED to go dormant each year and leave the brown sticks. Some folks prune them in fall, but I wait until early spring and start looking for the new green buds. I prune each cane down to where the first bud appears. It is true that some hydrangeas bloom on old wood, and some bloom on new wood. You must know which plant you have.

  19. Someone please tell me about pruning Endless Summer hydrangeas. They bloom on BOTH old and new wood. I’m never sure what to prune! I have some hydrangeas that bloom pretty reliably, especially the limelights. I also have 12 lace cap hydrangeas that were professionally planted 5 years ago, & only one of them has ever bloomed at all. I’ve tried everything I can think of. They get adequate sun, water, soil amendments, and fertilization, but nothing except green leaves appear each spring. Is there any hope???

  20. I don’t have any hydrangeas at present but I do like them and hope to plant some later. My comment is for Sushi, I love him/her. Beautiful, had three of the Bostons and I love them, they are so comical. Very active but just a pleasure to have.

  21. I don’t hate the sticks! I’m in Minnesota so my hydrangeas look like yours every year. A few years back, I needed to beef up the mulch in my garden and was too overwhelmed as we’d just moved in (the plants were provided by the previous owner!) So, when spring arrived, I chopped all the sticks down and cut them into two inch pieces and left them in the garden. I’ve now converted entirely to the hydrangea sticks for much (only in this garden, though) and it’s working great! My husband (who was the real green thumb in the family) was shocked at how well it’s working.

    1. I had the same problem – improper pruning and a harsh winter (freeze after buds appear) can be causes. Unfortunately, it can take years to see blooms – I have been flowerless for 2 years! hang in there!

  22. I have 6 hydrangea bushes that are 50 years old. We always trim them within 6″ or so from the ground in the spring. The bushes grow so huge and full of hydrangeas as big around as your head! We have people wanting to buy the flowers for weddings or for drying. The bushes also have three colors of flowers, sometimes growing on the same bush! We are amazed at their beauty. We don’t even fertilize them. They grow on the north side of our house.

  23. hallo Kelly, your humor about the winter doing ITS thing to plants, & your fotos about the winter damaged Hydrangeas made me laugh. Thanks for having such a good mind. xxx Nina

  24. I don’t think some understand completely what your trying to say about the late winter frost killing the buds that had already started budding. Which yes it means the frost killed the buds so no flowering. Will get a lovely green bush but that’s about it unfortunately at least with ones that grow from old wood. I’m getting so frustrated 2nd year here in Maryland that a late winter storm killed the buds on my hydrangea bushes. I’m really thinking I might dig them up and replace with something else or get ones that grow from new wood. Especially in the front of porch I want to see something with flowers not just green leaves. I feel your pain I truly do and glad at least someone else can understand the heartache of loosing hydrangeas. Wishing you the best of luck with your other plants and hopefully others will do well so you can enjoy. Take care

    1. I’m also in Maryland. For years I had gorgeous blooms on my old wood hydrangea and suddenly they stopped blooming in 2015. I asked a local master gardener who confidently told me that if the temperature dips below zero in the winter for two consecutive years old would hydrangea will not bloom the following summer. Unfortunately I don’t recall what he said about when the blooms will return. I have my fingers crossed for this year.

    2. I have the same issue in New Brunswick, Canada. I have an Endless Summer that for the last 2 years has not bloomed. I get the brown stalks with buds that look dead probably from late winter kill. I also get lovely lush plant but it no longer produces blooms. I also have 2 City Lines that have not bloomed for 3 years. What can I do. Should the City Lines be cut back in fall or spring and do they bloom on old or new wood?? Frustrated waiting for blooms

  25. There’s nothing unusual about that pic in Kentucky. That’s what perennials do in the winter. You can cut all that dead stuff in the fall, because freezing temps might cause damage to the roots if the stalks are left, I know I always heard that about chrysanthemums.

  26. Thank you so much for the info.
    Would please tell me what type are the evergreens are behind your fence?
    I’ve been looking for this kind for so long.
    Thank you

  27. Now I have to go check my brown sticks to see if there are buds! 🙂

    I moved my hydrangeas a couple of years ago and it took them a couple of seasons to bloom again, but they were pretty pitiful last year. Maybe I’ll try your fertilizer.

    I LOVE hydrangeas! Thanks for all the tips Kelly!


  28. Thanks for the tips! I have been battling and trying to conquer hydrangeas for the past few summers…ugh! Maybe this is the year! I love your Boston, she’s adorable! I have two 🙂

  29. I planted endless summer hydrangeas three years ago. The looked horrible for the first three years. This spring I started adding used coffee grounds to them whenever my husband brewed a batch of cold brew coffee. They took off like crazy. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s the sleep creep leap theory, the coffee grounds or the massive amount of rain we had this winter that did the trick. I also fertilize with a hydrangea fertilizer. Thanks for your blog on how to prune. I think that helped a lot as well.

    Morgan Shulz
    Lakewood, CA

  30. Thank you for your advice my hydrangea look exactly like yours and I will most definitely use your tips. Then stand back and await for maybe a bloom or two.

  31. I have the same issue with my hydrangeas but will look to c if they should have stocks trimmed But on another plant…what is the procedure to get my Rhododendrons looking good again. They r about 12-14′ tall but getting legging and sparse. What can I do now to help them? They bloom every year but r getting weak looking. I don’t know when/how/where to trim. Help??? They r a nice privacy wall in my yard. Thank you. Sophie

  32. Thank you so much for this post. It’s one of the only helpful ones on pintrest. I think it’s time to cut the canes (May). I was actually liking that they were protecting the new leaves at the bottom from deer. Good luck this year with your hydrangeas!

  33. Hi ,I was given a gift of Hydrangea for my Birthday in April from my girls but it is still in the pot it came in as our garden is under construction at the moment how long can I keep in the pot some of the leaves are turning yellow and a whiteish color

  34. Thank you for this information. For many years I did’ know the appropriate thing to do with dead branches. You have answered many questions.

  35. I think that person needs to worry about her green disgusting fence. Take a power washer to it

  36. I live in northern Illinois and my limelights do look like this!!! They did great last year but they look sad with only new growth from the ground! What am I doing wrong and how should I fix this:(

    1. Sounds like you had a frost that killed the buds. If you have leafless stalks at this point, I don’t think there is hope that they will bloom. I would cut the dead stalks and you should at least get a nice green bush but probably no flowers this year.

      1. Ok thankyou! Such a bummer:( my strawberry vanilla hydrangeas look amazing but they are in a different location.

      2. What if some branches are budding on half the branch but not on the top half of the branch, should I cut the dead down to where there are buds or leave those branches?

  37. Some of my brown sticks have a little green in the middle then hugely tall brown stock continuing up from there. …suggestions?

  38. But hydrangeas are not evergreen. So in certain climates they always look like this in spring.

    1. They will have buds on them in spring if they are going to bloom. If they were damaged by frost, the canes will be brown with no buds – that is when it’s time to cut them because there will be no blooms on those brown canes

  39. thankyou now i know what to do with my bo bo hydranga i guess it got winter kill i see one shoot coming from bottom should i move this hydranga out of the container and plant in the ground

  40. Annabella is another hydrangea that will bloom in spite of a harsh winter. We had 3 summers without blooms on big leaf hydrangeas but this year they are loaded with buds. I am thrilled!

    Rhode Island

  41. Best hint ever for cut hydrangeas…
    Very cold water, full vase of water. If some wilt, add ice cubes to the water . This is how florists prepare them to last at a wedding. Really works!

  42. My hydrangeas haven’t bloomed in a few years, so thanks for your tips. I will be inspecting them as soon as this rain stops and cutting anything without green life on the cane. I also appreciated the tips on planting Peonies as I got one for Mother’s day and am ready to plant. Enjoy your posts very much, happy gardening to you.

  43. Hello,

    I live in Florida but grew up in CT. My mom has bought me three hydrangeas and I thee away two as the sticks got brown but I finally got another one and I am praying that it will grow here in our soil and weather. Any tips?! I have not transplanted it from pot yet. The leaves are currently wilting and the plant is half green. Help? I love hydrangeas and would love to see them as my edging.

  44. I cut my hydrangeas down to the ground as soon as all blooms are gone in the fall/winter. I do this every year and now my hydrangeas are so huge they are taking over my flower beds. If I want to have a different color bloom then last year I peel several oranges and bury them around the root of the hydrangeas. Be sure to bury them deep around your plant.

  45. I live in a different region; (Florida) but, I always wait until the last frost before I prune my hydrangeas; making sure I look for spikes/stems, that are dark brown and dry to the touch before pruning. I do have couple that I believe I planted too close to other shrubs, that don’t get as large as my more matured hydrangea. I waited to long if I haven;t transplanted them before the end of May; I don’t know?

  46. In the past years my Hydrangeas have gotten brown spots on the leaves. How can I prevent this?

  47. My hydrangea looked liked that every year. It never bloomed and always came back like a perennial. It was not a hydrangea for my zone. I live in Michigan. In our area gardeners should plant peniculta and arborscens. I was told by a woman associated with Proven Winners that winter doesn’t kill the buds formed in fall; spring frost does.

  48. Hydrangeas are my favorite ,i love them. My are blue, but only one is blooming ,their sticks have some brown spots I am very sad.could you hel me plaease!

  49. Thanks for attempting to tell me how to fix my problem with my Hydrangeas not blooming. Unfortunately, I haven’t learned why they won’t bloom or how to fix the problem. For 15 years we’ve left the old wood and still no blooms. We’ve checked but not Bud’s and no green, no black, nothing. Your two stories have great links but have failed to leave me with answers!!!

  50. I’m curious how you prevented this from happening the next year. I have done this exact process two years in a row and both years it got snipped. I’m thinking of wrapping/covering them through the winter until maybe May! :/

    1. You can give wrapping a try Charla. I have so many hydrangeas that it would take me forever to wrap them so I’ll just leave it to mother nature and hope for the best.

  51. Hello from Alabama! We are all having the same problems with our Hydrangeas, here in the South East Region, due to spring frosts. It really takes away from the gardens, and is a stab in the heart to any Hydrangea lover! I have a problem of a different sort, that I’m hoping someone can enlightened me on. Two yrs. ago, one of my older Endless Summer plants, changed to blooming Lace Cap. (very few blooms both yrs.) WHY?

  52. I have Kaleidescope hydrangeas I bought from a mail order company a long time ago. They have only bloomed twice since I got them. Very frustrating. I am about ready to dig them up and trash them. I have moved the plants a couple times thinking that would help but nothing seems to work. I have a large flower garden with many other flowers that I have no problems with growing. I came across your webpage and my hydrangeas looked like the ones in the “winter kill ” photo in the spring. I have not pruned the dead sticks because I thought that is where the new flowers would grow. Still no flowers but plenty of new growth and green leaves but no flowers. So do you cover the Hydrangea sticks in the winter so they do not freeze the new buds early in the spring? Thank you for your input.

  53. I just signed up for your newsletter. I have 2 hydrangeas that look just like your winter killed ones. The old dead stems are still there and I cut them after the new growth begins from the roots. They have not bloomed in 4 years although they were blooming when I put them out. The blooms just tapered off until there was only 1 and then nothing. Do you have a suggestion? Thanks.

  54. I was in the same situation last summer. Live in Maine, and harsh winters have kept my hydrangea’s from blooming the last 2 years. I think I got one blossom last summer. Anyway, I will be using your tips and suggestions, especially changing my fertilizer to Holly Tone. I do use it on other plants but never thought to use it on the hydrangea’s. Thanx again for sharing your good advice and knowledge!! Much appreciated by a fellow gardener. Wishing you a mild rest of the winter and a full blooming gorgeous display of flowers this coming season!!!

  55. I cut my canes, after first frost, down to about five inches from ground. I have the same type as you do. In the spring they shoot up on new canes and have huge, dark green, leaves. My flowers do not bloom until September and the blooms are dinner plate size. None of my friends, nor the local nurseries, have blooms this size. The other advantage is that my blooms do not get sun burned as the normal heat waves are over by then. They also dry beautifully!
    Then my husband killed them by cutting them back in the spring. This was a huge plant and it never grew again. 🙁 I waited for years and then finally gave up the ghost. You were lucky that yours came back.

  56. It appears my dog ate all my hydrangea buds. They were so small I didn’t notice until now. Will I get any blooms this year?

    1. Oh no! Naughty dog :)! It depends on what kind of hydrangeas you have (old wood vs. new wood). But if they were budding, I doubt you will get blooms.

  57. Cut them to the ground late fall/winter.They will come back full and beautiful in spring.Mulch around plant.

  58. Cut my hydrangea shrub to the ground last fall and don’t see any new growth coming out of it this year no green .

  59. My daughter bought me a beautiful full bush last year for mother’s day. It barely survived the winter and all stems are dead. I only have 2 little shoots coming from under ground and I am guarding them like their my kids. We had such a terrible winter with -20 degree temps that lasted days and days. I do hope my little shoots survive. I will certainly make sure I give them better winter protection this year.

  60. Thanks so much for the tips on Hydrangea care. I planted my first one last year and when starting to clean up my garden this year I was scared to death thinking I had lost my Hydrangeas. But, they are really looking great now and, thanks to you and your tips I know exactly what to do. Thank you again.

  61. Thanks for this post! I to have mile high sticks with just teeny but bold green leaves on the bottom. Last night I said what the heck and trimmed back all wood that had zero green on it. Fingers crossed they can come back!

  62. I hated these blue flowers at first, they looked unnatural. My wife wanted them 20 years ago. Now we’re surrounded with them, I’m a convert. I grow the old ones that don’t look like they’re on steroids. We live on the foggy coast in RI.
    First – put the pruners away. They want to sprawl. The old canes that lie on the ground sprout new shoots which revive your stand as the years go on, and give you more plants to spread out or give to friends. (Drop a brick on some to accelerate the process) The old canes that no longer shoot green buds also provide a framework for the flower heads years later, so there will no longer be floppy heads on the ground. Finally, the old canes that are dead still provide winter shelter for the live canes in their lee. Yes, they do, there will be flower buds even after a tough winter on the leeward side of the plant. So put the pruners away.
    There will be years when many buds are lost, but there is always next year, and by now your patch has expanded so you have more canes to fall back on.
    Never mind the straight lines. Just plant the tender ones out of the winter wind, put them all where they will be shaded from late day sun so the blooms don’t dry out (once they do they lose their color), and let the fall leaves accumulate around them when the summer is over. Throw some hay in there the first few winters to build up your soil and protect them when they’re small. Feed with compost or perhaps some blood meal if they need it. As they get happy, let the ferns and asters and tall grasses grow up among them. As they sprawl, lose the lawn edges, and let this edge of nature take over your lawn.

  63. i have a couple of mop head hydrangsa that have brown branches and some with hardly any blooms what should i do 1 blooms on old wood the other is cityline paris

    1. I’ve outlined everything in the post. If you have brown branches and no buds or blooms this late in the season, you won’t be getting any unfortunately. You can either leave them or cut them down. I’m not sure about your other hydrangea.

  64. I have beautiful growth hydrangeas but they never flower. They are in a southrn exposure area and grow magnificently but sadly never flower, what is the problem here?

  65. I had the same thing to happen to me, I have lots of leaves but no blooms. So when it is ready for winter I should cut back? I miss my blooms they where so pretty last year.

  66. I have always waited until my hydrangea is completely leafed out before I do any trimming in the spring. I learned that when I went to the flower and garden show in Chicago and asked one of their master gardeners. Then I only trim the branches with no leaves or buds. Works every year!!

  67. I love Hydrangeas and I am having difficulty getting them to blume. They have been in the ground for at least 3 years. What can I do?

  68. We seem to have the same taste in flowers as I also love hydrangeas and peonies. I have another hydrangeas named ruby slippers that I just adore. The buds start out white and turn red so by fall you still have color in the garden. I started several years ago with peonies which I live in the spring and early summer then the hydrangeas start blooming to set the tone for the rest of the summer. Thank you for your post I know I will enjoy reading your future ones!

  69. This is exactly what happened to mine this past spring and I cut them just like this showed. They grew full of leaves after that but I got only two flowers in the deep center in early summer which I assume was from the few green leaves that survived the frost. Now they are huge and it is August. What do I do now? I live in South Carolina. I bought this house with them already planted and do not know what kind they are. I have never pruned them (until the killing frost) because I was afraid I would loose a year of blooms. They are on the verge of being to big for their location.

  70. I would like to know if you can only do this in the spring or if you can do this trimming in the fall as well? And when do you fertilize spring, summer, fall, or all three times?

  71. Girl friend I can tell you are a Christian, thank you so much for the tip I just knew I was going have to lay hands on these hydrangeas and pulled him up out of the ground thank you thank you thank you

  72. Hi
    I can feel your pain mine look just like yours. I’ll try your suggestions and post a picture of pain also.

  73. Im confused. So when the fal arrives, do I cut all the branches down? My hydrangea plant looks like your stick version every year. I do no pruning. I thought it was supposed to look that way. I only get 4/5 flowers a season.

    1. You can prune in fall but you don’t have to! You may not be getting flowers for reasons I explained such as a spring frost or not enough/too much sun.

  74. I’m confused. I’m not sure if I have old wood or winter kill. My husband pruned my hydrangeas over a year ago and they didn’t bloom last year. Should I prune them or not?

  75. Ok, I live in zone 5…Lexington, KY. I see blooms on my large, healthy, shielded Hydrangeas, maybe every 4th year. Like you, the late winter storms or freezes zap them. Talk about frustration! So, I cut back the canes, and try again. What about covering them in loose burlap and lightly securing it low on the bush, with garden twine before the first freeze? Think it’ll give me and my gorgeous, flowerless green shrubs a better chance? I gotta win this war!

    1. I’ve seen people cover their shrubs in burlap but I’ve never tried it. I have way too many hydrangeas to be bothered! Fingers crossed they’ll bloom this year!

  76. I live in Mo. which has bi- polar weather, & have the same problem,so I just leave them alone till after Mother!s Day & then prune any dead limbs out.

  77. I have sticks each year! There were yrs. when my plant bloomed. Thanks for your post. I now have a plan and hope for blooms.

  78. Right before a hard frost wrap your hydrangea shrubs in at least three layers of burlap. Wrap string around the loosely wrapped shrub so burlap stays secure. This will protect the new leaf buds from getting frosted in the early spring.

  79. Hi, what should I do if I’ve had a hydrangea for years and it hasn’t gotten more than approximately 10 inches tall, and never bloomed? I have it in a spot that gets about 5 hours of morning sun a day.

  80. My oak leaf hydrangea have never bloomed, I have had them for several years. Hey have beautiful green foliage but no blooms. I have transplanted and still no blooms. I divided plants with friend and theirs bloomed. What is wrong?

  81. I live in Montana in the Summer and Winter in Texas. ILOVE HYDRANGEAS! I planted three bushes two Summers ago and added two more last Summer. They are positioned against the house and I put protective netting covers over them for the winter – mostly to protect them from the deer, who will eat anything in the bitter cold of winter. I add sulphur fertilizer to encourage blue blooms. Although my flowers have been small and few I the past, this year they have many buds and I am hoping for a bumper season. I will send a picture as they are in June and hopefully later with many blooms.

  82. I bought a hydrangea plant from a plant shop unfortunately when I got home I found it had spots of mould on the bottom of leaves I took all those leaves off however flowers died and then woof died. If I plant this either outside or inside do I have a chance of getting a growing hydrangea from it next year

    1. I would give it a try! As long as you cut off all the powdery mildew on the leaves you should be ok. However, moving plants sometimes means no blooms for a year or more.

  83. My hydrangeas are full and green and about 4feet tall, but they do not have any flowers or buds. What is wrong with them. Did I cut them back to late.last year.

  84. I cut my hydrangeas in May in South Africa, gauteng, we get bad frost here, so then I cover them with frost cover till middle September, last year we had late frost and I had to gut them drown to the ground🙈 but they came right and give me bloomns, only 2 did nor flower. This was when I move them and they stand in paint tubs for almost 2 years. Thus new summer season I’m sure I will have my beastifull plant back rewarding me with tons of flowers!!!!
    This plants of mine are about 25years is more old, take them out of my mother’s garden 11, years ago after she died!!! They keep me soooo close to my mom and that’s why I Care’s so much about them!!!!
    Gerda Heidelberg, Gaugteng, SOUTH AFRICA

  85. Your not alone my hydrangeas look like this also…I was going to dig them out, now going to try your idea first..thanks

  86. Hi I have 2 hydrangeas plants for 2years and they are only about 10 in tall, why won’t they grow like my good ones that I planted this fall and have lots of buds…please help

  87. I still don’t know why mine have not bloomed. This is their 4th year, plenty of green leaves, no flowers. What can I do????

  88. I have a macrophyllia hydrangea that I planted in spring, and it has grown fairly well, but lately has begun dropping leaves here in Quantico, MD in August. We went on vacation for 5 days, and came back and watered, but it has lost some leaves. There are some new leaves growning, but plant is thinning, so not sure what to do, or if it is dying. It has some green stems and like I said new leaves, but also some wooden ones. I have not clipped anything. I have removed dead blooms, etc. I am wondering what to do now and will it come back in fall. Not sure if it losing its leaves is ok?

  89. My daughter gave me a beautiful hydrangea for Easter several years ago. I suspect it came from the grocery store. I planted it and the plant itself is extremely healthy and sprouts every year since but has only bloomed once since I planted it. I fertilize every month but nothing.

  90. I am going through black and brown spots on my hydrangea leaves and I have cleaned them of all dead leaves. I treated for fungus with copper and no avail. I have no ide what to do. Help!!!! I miss my blooms and leaves. My hydrangeas are balding!

  91. We live in southern Ohio, which can be subject to a -20to -30 degree temps in January, but not for long. I cut all my hydrangeas back in the early spring, from mophead to paniculata to lacecap, they all grow like crazy to 5-7 feet tall and bloom profusely, don’t let brown canes deter you, look for green leaves @ the base of the plant each spring, they are alive and well!

    1. I’m surprised you get flowers! Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood usually don’t flower if they are pruned in the spring. I get tons of leaves – just no flowers!

  92. Moving and I want to take my hydrangeas they are very small bush any recommendations on how to keep them thru the winter ??? I’m in the NE
    Thanks ,

  93. So I have a hydrangea and it greens and get large but never blooms flowers , what am I doing wrong ?

  94. Hey 🐕🐈 thank you thank you, thank you for this post Starting tmmrw I’ll follow your tips 100%.
    I was sad ,but you brought me & my Hydrangeas hope 🤗😍

  95. What if my hydrangea for 2 years from the day I got it and planted it never had sticks coming out of it and only had luscious green leaves..no blooms?

  96. My hydrangeas i planted 2018 with blooms then 2019 they came back lush green plants no blooms then now 2020 bigger lush green still no blooms neither year had tall dead stems. I want them to bloom what can i do?

  97. Just moved my Hydrangea – hot as blazes but had no choice – how can I insure that it will survive? keeping umbrella over it to help.

  98. Mine looks amazingly healthy for three years but no flowers. There were flowers on when I

  99. I have a beautiful big green hydrangea bush but no flowers. What happened? I moved it two seasons ago.

  100. I have a single-branch (very sad!) of hydrangea and it hasn’t bloomed (no surprise here). It’s a loooong stem and the few leaves it has are curiously at the tip of the branch. What can I do to help the plant grow and stop looking a little pathetic? I’m in north Florida

  101. This was very useful. I am in Robertson south of Sydney Australia and had a magnificent hydrangea garden. Unfortunately the huge fires we had in January generated such heat that the hydrangeas are now basically sticks that look very dead. I was going to cut them down (it’s mid winter here now) but will leave until spring and see what happens.
    If anything blooms from them it’s a tribute to the plant.

  102. My purple lace leaf hydrangea has beautiful variegated foliage 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide, but in 12 years has never bloomed. What am I doing wrong?

  103. Hi, my hydrangea is growing in a pot.
    It is a mop head and it’s huge to the point of the branches falling to the ground after the first rain.
    I want to cut it back to the ground this winter. I realize I will not have any blooms next year but will I be killing it?


    1. Mopheads don’t really need pruning but if yours are drooping you can do so. They will probably get just as large next year! If they do droop next season, cut the drooping branches above a flower node to encourage regrowth

      1. Thanks Kelly 😁
        I just hope I don’t kill it being that most of it is old wood that I’m cutting down But, going to go for it and hope for the best!

  104. Hello my hydrangeas are now budding at the end of Sept. they did not bloom this Summer. I cut them all back in June because nothing was coming out of the old wood. Everything was coming in new t the bottom. The Bush got Huge and started budding in Sept. Got one bloom and now all the buds will freeze. Live in IL. What do I do????

  105. How much sun do yours get? I planted one last year that got morning sun afternoon shade it grew about 2 feet talk but no flowers. Do I need to move it? I live in Michigan. I remember my grandmother having big beautiful ones at the end of her sidewalk that got more sun than shade.

  106. I have had my hydrangea for 4 years. It returns every spring, green, gets about the size of a basketball, never blooms and never gets bigger. Thoughts?

  107. Hi Kelly,
    My hydrangea had huge whit blooms on it last summer,& I put a layer of mulch around the base, left it in its basket ( pot),& put it on my deck for the winter, it is now brown sticks with green underneath when I peel away the loose bark, is it still alive or am I just being really optimistic?
    We live in southern Alberta, and the coldest temp this winter we’re a couple days of -26’

      1. Hi Kelly,

        My Endless Summer has brown sticks with brown (dead looking buds – I noticed them coming out last fall). Last year, I had to cut them all because they were indeed dead. This year, I’m not sure because I cut a couple of the brown stem and the inside is still green ( it’s a pale green, but isn’t this usually a sign of life?). I live in Vermont and we had a winter abundant with snow. Is it too optimistic to think an Endless Summer hydrangea could bloom on both old and new wood in this climate? I know my plant it still alive also because there are new leaves coming out of the ground at the base. Would it give my plant a better chance of flowering on new wood if I got rid of the old wood even if it’s still showing one sign of life (the green interior of the stems)?

        I used to have hydrangeas in New Brunswick Canada and I hope they can make an appearance in my life again…

        Thank you for your help and for posting this article!

  108. Has anyone experimented with leaving the oak leaves that accumulate inside the canes of the macrophyllas? I tempted to leave them there but don’t want to kill them.

  109. Hi Kelly,

    My Endless Summer has brown sticks with brown (dead looking buds – I noticed them coming out last fall). Last year, I had to cut them all because they were indeed dead. This year, I’m not sure because I cut a couple of the brown stem and the inside is still green ( it’s a pale green, but isn’t this usually a sign of life?). I live in Vermont and we had a winter abundant with snow. Is it too optimistic to think an Endless Summer hydrangea could bloom on both old and new wood in this climate? I know my plant it still alive also because there are new leaves coming out of the ground at the base. Would it give my plant a better chance of flowering on new wood if I got rid of the old wood even if it’s still showing one sign of life (the green interior of the stems)?

    I used to have hydrangeas in New Brunswick Canada and I hope they can make an appearance in my life again…

    Thank you for your help and for posting this article!

  110. Thank you for this article. I don’t have a very green thumb and my hydrangeas kept doing this each year. Now I know what to do! Thank you so much!!

  111. Hi, I’ve always admired hydrangeas, planted three the first time last summer. Saw the dry sticks you mentioned. I cut off the ones that had no shoots attached. Green leaves are sprouting but they are not at the height as before or blooming as yet. I decided to be patient and see what happens. Thanks for the tips, can’t wait to see the lovely bloom. I believe the colors are somewhere between fushia, hot pink to a mixture of deep purple, I should have taken a pic, will do next time. Thanks again.

  112. I planted mine a year ago, Summer crush, and they didn’t bloom this year. Only brown sticks, with few green leaves at the very bottom. This is a small plant, but did have blooms when I bought it. Have I failed this plant or is there still hope?

  113. We are in northern Michigan. I’ve learned not to trim my hydrangeas. They are green as can be, but no blooms for at least 2 years. We use the acidified fertilizer, etc. Why don’t they bloom?

  114. I’m happy to have come across your great information on hydrangeas. I just put in a new garden (I live on a farm so have plenty of room) and added about 40 hydrangeas, from Annabelle, Limelight, Quick Fire, Bono’s, Pee Gees, and a couple others. I also bought some standards and am wondering if you have any suggestions for over wintering to prevent winter kill? I appreciate your suggestions for the shrubs but wondering about the tree forms?? I am in zone 5b to 5a. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much! Laura

  115. I feel your pain personally , 8 think hydrangeas are a pain in the butt ! Mine are called Nantucket blue . The past 2 years no blooms till fall , guess we pruned at 5he wrong time . So this past year we didn’t touch them . Now they look like the ones in your picture !! Feeling blue !

  116. So if my hydrangeas look like the ones in the above photos, it means they won’t bloom this year?

  117. I always cut back brown sticks in the winter and my Hydrangeas comes back blooming year after year…

  118. I planted my first hydrangea plant this year and they bloomed right away! I love them!
    Also, your little dog is adorable!

  119. I have mistakenly pruned my hydrangea paniculata before the winter, thinking to tidying things up (what was I thinking!). It is now May and there is no growth at all. I have checked the bark and it is still green so I am assuming it is still alive. Is there anything I can do at all? Should I prune still a bit more to “wake it up”? Will the plant die slowly now? I live in zone 8b. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.

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