Explore Plants

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
    
 

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.

 

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Trimming back Texas Star hibiscus in Granbury TX
February 26, 2009 - Can I trim back my Texas Star Hibuscus? And when do I do that?
view the full question and answer

Seasonal tasks for Big Red Sage and Tall Aster in Marble Falls TX
January 09, 2012 - I transplanted some Big Red Sage and Tall Aster into my raised bed garden in early summer this year. They've sent up lots of rosettes. Do I need to protect them from freezing in winter? Do I need to ...
view the full question and answer

Growing Texas wildflowers indoors for a March wedding from Austin
October 01, 2013 - I have learned so much from this site! Thank you! I am getting Married this March and I am hoping to use Texas wildflowers for the centerpieces. I hope to grow them in containers indoors and have the ...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant native plants for Eagle Scout project in Urbandale IA
April 27, 2013 - Mr. Smarty Plants, My son is planning his Eagle Scout Project doing some landscaping for the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary. The facility has asked him to use only plants native to Iowa. Can you su...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant Wildflowers for Oklahoma City
April 16, 2012 - I live in Oklahoma City. I'm not in town very often, and am seeking low maintenance plants. I have MANY trees in my backyard, which makes it quite shady. I have raised beds amongst my rock garden ...
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.