En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - July 01, 2009

From: Irving, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Why is oakleaf hydrangea not blooming now in Irving TX?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Irving Texas and have an oakleaf hydrangea. It bloomed in the early spring and now it is not blooming. Is there anything I can do to get to bloom?

ANSWER:

Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea) is native to North America, but  not to Texas. It requires shade and ordinarily blooms white, green and purple in June and July. Our Native Plant Database gives us this information about the oakleaf hydrangea:

"Conditions Comments: Susceptible to sunscald, chlorosis in alkaline soils, and winter dieback. Many weak, brittle canes are easily broken in wind and ice. Forms colonies from a shallow root system. Canes can be cut to the ground every two or three years to keep the shrub smaller, but if the canes are allowed to grow, the naturally peeling bark is attractive. Pest free. Prune immediately after flowering."

If, as you say, it bloomed in early spring, then there is something out of focus. In North Central Texas, you probably have alkaline soils, and the hydrangeas all need acidic soil.  Blooming early may have been the plant's need to survive by propagating itself, which it does by blooming and seeding. 

About all we can do is suggest some things you can try to make your plant feel more at home. First, if it is not in pretty good shade, it will not do well. Second, cut out the fertilizer, especially high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer. Nitrogen inspires heavy leafing, but not blooms. Prune it back, particularly the canes that bloomed in the spring. You didn't say how old the plant was; they usually have to mature two to three years before they begin blooming. You can't turn alkaline soil acidic, but you can try amending it by adding compost to the soil, and mulching. If you can get some pinebark mulch or even pine needles for mulch, they will add to the acidic character of the soil. We don't think you can expect another bloom this year-blooming, while necessary for plant survival, also requires a great deal of energy, and the plant is not only trying to adapt to conditions for which it is not suited, it is also recovering from blooming and trying to survive.


Hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangea quercifolia

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Allelopathy of American elms from Dallas
March 24, 2013 - Are American elms at all allelopathic?
view the full question and answer

Appropriate mulch for strawberries in Maine
July 31, 2007 - Can mulch (like cedar mulch- kinds used in flower gardens) be used between rows of strawberries? Can you also suggest how far apart lupine species need to be so that they wont interbreed? Thank ...
view the full question and answer

Can hackberry twigs and leaves be safely used in compost?
March 05, 2009 - If Hackberry trees and leaves have growth inhibiting compounds, should they not be used in compost piles?
view the full question and answer

Poor drainage in clay soils in Langhorne PA
September 15, 2009 - Our backyard has very poor drainage, to the point of up to 3 inches of rain can sit until it is evaporated. Talking to neighbors, they informed us that there use to be a terrain that ran through our ...
view the full question and answer

Revegetation of school site with meadow plants from Austin
December 23, 2013 - We are revegetating a hill country school site (typical calciferous soil stripped of vegetation & minimal topsoil) with a native seed mix equal to Native American Seed "Meadow Mix". We have an abund...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center