Hydrangea Problems

Hydrangeas can be divided (roughly) into two categories; those that bloom on new wood and those that bloom on old wood. It’s really important to know which variety you have.

We have one that blooms on old wood (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’). This means that if I prune them in the spring, I won’t get any blooms until next year. They bloom in the late spring or early summer. Once the flower heads have faded, I can cut it back and get blooms the next year.

One fall, I realized that I had forgotten to prune it back after it bloomed. I reasoned that, if I pruned it back (early October), it should still have time to produce new growth which should be old growth by next summer.

No such luck.

The next year, the hydrangea leafed out and grew, but we only got one bloom. It came from a shoot branching out from low on the plant and that I had not pruned. So, having learned our lesson, we left it to grow, anticipating the blooms we would get the next year.

Now, one of the things about our condominiums is that they supply landscape maintenance. They hire a company to come in weekly to mow the lawns, rake the leaves, and do what ever other yard work is needed. On the whole, it’s a good thing. Many condo owners do not want to be bothered with yard work. For most of them, it’s one of the reasons they bought a condo in the first place.

So, what does all this have to do with my hydrangea?

At some point, early the following spring, I came home from work to find that the lawn maintenance people had helpfully cut my hydrangea back…WAY back. No blooms for us that year either.

My first impulse was to go running and screaming at the lawn maintenance workers who, if any had been around, would have considered me crazy. But they come during the day, when I’m at work, and are gone by time I come home. Besides, what good would it do? The damage was done for the year and nothing the company could do would change that.

It is now May, a year later, and we’ve spotted a few flowerheads developing among the spring growth. So far, so good…

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