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

Fertilizer amounts for native perennials in Belton, TX
March 18, 2009 - I am a novice gardener and need advice on how to fertilize my native perennials. I would like to use organic fertilizer and need advice on exactly what to use. I have a compost pile but it does not ...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping plant for Austin
September 01, 2011 - Great site! Have gotten lots of ideas. We're about to start construction on a fairly major landscaping project: raised beds/privacy screen. We're at the top of a hill in the Hill Country just wes...
view the full question and answer

Conditions for growing Anacacho Orchid in Smithville TX
January 24, 2011 - What conditions (soil type, sun/shade, understory? etc.) to grow a healthy Anacacho Orchid tree? And what is the best size tree to plant?
view the full question and answer

Perennials non-toxic to horses in Thayer MO
September 21, 2010 - I live in South Central Missouri. I am looking for a plant/shrub to plant in pots (our soil is clay and very rocky)to landscape the front of our barn. This plant can't be harmful to horses and must b...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating non-native Asian Jasmine in Austin
December 02, 2010 - I have a large bed in front of the house full of jasmine that was planted by the builder 25 years ago. What suggestions do you have to eliminate it and prepare the bed to plant native flowers and pl...
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