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

Encouraging native grasses to flourish
August 23, 2007 - We have been trying to restore the yard around the house with native grasses and forbs for the last two years. The soil is clay and nothing seems to grow. We have distributed 5 truck loads of mulch, p...
view the full question and answer

Information about growing mountain laurels (Sophora secundiflora)
November 15, 2008 - I live just outside of Austin on 10 acres. I have several very large mountain laurels on my property that I planted from containers. Mine flower profusely every year. I feed them bi-weekly and wate...
view the full question and answer

Will Habiturf thrive in Houston?
July 31, 2012 - Will Habiturf grow in partial sun? My lawn is surrounded by trees so that there is only about an hour each day with direct overhead sun. The rest of the day there is a light shade.
view the full question and answer

Century plants spread through offshots from Rye TX
September 20, 2010 - How do century plants spread? Are the little ones the babies?
view the full question and answer

The Pros and Cons of Using Stone Mulch for Plants and Wildfire Safety
December 04, 2013 - I am trying to grow native plants that are wildfire-resistant. I want to avoid the use of flammable mulch -- especially in beds next to the house. I'm considering river rock or crushed stone, but one...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center