Why Aren’t My Hydrangeas Blooming?


Having trouble with your hydrangeas not blooming? Find out how to fix the problems so that you can grow these beautiful flowers in your garden.

I love Hydrangeas!

Those big beautiful flowers always brighten up a summer garden.

Except when they decide NOT to bloom for some reason.

Then they’re just a big disappointment.

Fortunately, there are a few common reasons why Hydrangeas don’t bloom.

And most of them are pretty easy to fix.

So if your Hydrangea isn’t blooming, keep reading to find out why.

What type of Hydrangea do you have?

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The first thing to know is that there are many different types of Hydrangeas, and they have different blooming requirements.

So before you can figure out why your plant isn’t blooming, you need to know what kind of Hydrangea you have.

Here are the most common garden varieties:

Hydrangea macrophylla – Big Leaf Hydrangea, Mophead Hydrangea, Lacecap Hydrangea

Mophead Hydrangea macrophylla

The Big Leaf Hydrangea is the variety that most people think of when they hear the word Hydrangea.

As the name implies, they have fairly large leaves that are rounded to a point.

The mophead variety is the one with the flowers that form large round balls (in the picture above).

Lacecap Hydrangea macrophylla 'Twist n Shout'

The lacecap variety is the one with flatter flower heads that look more delicate and lace-like.

Hydrangea serrata – Mountain Hydrangea

Hydrangea serrata

The mountain Hydrangea looks like a smaller version of the lacecap Hydrangea macrophylla.

And has all the same growing characteristics as its larger cousin.

Hydrangea paniculata – Panicle Hydrangea

Hydrangea paniculata

The flowers on Hydrangea paniculata are more oblong than the ones on the big leaf hydrangea, but they are equally as showy.

They tend to start out as a white or greenish color and then turn to a shade of pink.

Hydrangea aborescens – Smooth Hydrangea, Annabelle Hydrangea

Hydrangea aborescens blooming in front of a rock wall

Hydrangea aborescens is a native species of Hydrangea that grows wild across much of the United States.

Traditionally, it was mostly available with large white balls of flowers, but recently some varieties with pink flowers have become more popular.

Hydrangea quercifolia – Oakleaf Hydrangea

'Snow Flake' Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

Oakleaf Hydrangea is another native species.

It has oblong (rather than round) balls of flowers that are usually white.

The tell-tale sign of the oakleaf variety is the shape of the leaves, which (as you may have guessed) are in the shape of oak leaves.

Hydrangea petiolaris – Climbing Hydrangea

Climbing hydrangea

The Climbing Hydrangea is a vine with beautiful, lacy white or pink blooms that takes some time to get going, but is a great addition to the garden once it gets going.

If you’re still not sure which kind you have, read our guide on the different types of Hydrangeas and how to identify them.

Now you can look at the reasons why your particular plant has decided not to bloom. And skip over the ones that don’t apply to your variety.

1 | Pruning At The Wrong Time

Hydrangea being pruned
©olyapon / Adobe Stock

Applies To: All Hydrangeas

I think this is one of the most common causes of Hydrangeas that aren’t blooming.

The buds were accidentally cut off.

The tricky part is that different varieties of Hydrangeas should be pruned at different times.

Blue Hydrangea macrophylla

Hydrangea macrophylla, Hydrangea petiolaris and Hydrangea quercifolia all bloom on old wood (ie. last year’s stems), and should not be pruned much at all.

You can cut the ends off the branches, up to the first set of 2 leaves, if you want to dead head the plants immediately after blooming.

But cutting any more than that is probably removing some of next year’s blooms. And that includes cutting blooms for your dining room table flower arrangement.

The one exception is the reblooming “Endless Summer” series of Hydrangea macrophylla which blooms on both old and new wood.

So technically, you can prune them and still get some flowers.

However, you will get more flowers if you prune them as if they were old wood bloomers.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Pee Gee'

Hydrangea paniculata and Hydrangea aborescens bloom on new wood.

That means they can be safely pruned in the early spring before the branches start to grow.

And H. aborescens often does best if you cut it right down to the ground.

Of course, in all cases, pruning to remove dead branches is always a good practice.

Learn more about pruning Hydrangeas HERE.

2 | The Plant Is Too Young

Mature Hydrangea petiolaris with pink Monarda and purple Clematis

Applies To: H. paniculata, H. aborescens, H. petiolaris

Both H. paniculata and H. aborescens require a couple of years to get established before they will start to produce mass blooms.

H. petiolaris takes even longer than that to get established…give it about 5 years to really start putting on a show.

3 | Late Frost

Hydrangea macrophylla 'nigra'

Applies To: H. macrophylla, H. quercifolia

Both H. macrophylla and H. quercifolia have buds that are very sensitive to late spring frosts.

So if you live in an area that can get a cold spell after it has been warm for a while (like I do in Upstate South Carolina), be prepared to cover them if necessary.

Planting them in a protected area by the house can also help.

4 | Too Much Fertilizer

Lacecap Hydrangea macrophylla

Applies To: All Hydrangeas

This one sounds a little strange.  Fertilizer is supposed to make plants grow better, right?

With Hydrangeas, too much fertilizer actually encourages lots of leaves and fewer flowers.

If you want to use fertilizer, one application of a well-balanced slow-release fertilizer in the spring should be enough.

5 | The Soil Is Too Dry

Hydrangea macrophylla growing with Rose of Sharon
Hydrangea macrophylla with Hibiscus

Applies To: All Hydrangeas

All Hydrangeas dislike dry conditions, and won’t grow (or bloom) very well if they aren’t watered regularly.

Adding a layer of mulch will also help to get the soil moist.

If you are looking for a variety that is more likely to grow successfully in dry conditions, try H. paniculata.

Once they get established, they actually tolerate dry conditions fairly well.

6 | Too Many Deer

Deer in the garden beside a hydrangea

Applies To: All Hydrangeas

Apparently, deer love Hydrangeas as much as I do!

If you live in an area with deer, they may be doing some unneeded pruning for you…and preventing your Hydrangeas from blooming.

This can be a difficult problem to solve (as anyone who has tried to stop deer from feasting on their garden probably knows).

Building a 6-foot fence around my yard was the only way I stopped them from coming into my yard. (You can find more ways to keep deer out of your yard HERE.)

7 | You’re Too Impatient

Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky' blooming in the garden

Applies To: H. paniculata

H. paniculata blooms later in the season than the other hydrangeas.

So don’t be too impatient waiting to see its blooms…it may just be taking its time getting started.

8 | Not Enough Light

Hydrangea paniculata 'Pee Gee' in bloom

Applies To: All Hydrangeas

The general rule of thumb for most Hydrangeas is that they require about 4 hours of sun per day, and they prefer to get it in the morning.

But it also depends on where you live.

The further North you go, the more sun they can stand.

The further South, the more shade they like.

The one exception is H. paniculata which blooms much better everywhere in full sun (at least 6 hours per day).

This standard variety of the Pee Gee Hydrangea beside my deck gets sun almost all day long and it is always covered in blooms.

Solving this problem usually requires moving the plant to a better location…it is much easier to make sure that it is planted in the right place to begin with…

The great thing about most of these problems is that Hydrangeas are very forgiving plants.

So even if you don’t get any flowers this year, all you have to do is correct the issue and you’ll be rewarded with big, beautiful blooms for years to come!

Other gardening tips you might like

Have comments or questions on why your Hydrangeas are not blooming? Tell us in the section below.

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8 reasons your Hydrangea isn't blooming

This post was originally published on May 9, 2017 but was updated with new content on September 15, 2022.

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  1. Dian Mackintosh says:

    I have an Endless Summer hydranga that I planted about13 years ago. The first year it blossomed buy none since then. It gets morning and early afternoon sun and watered every day. Why is it not blooming now? I keep threatening to dig it up but ……………..

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Dian…The main reasons that Endless Summer Hydrangeas don’t bloom is too much or too little sun, too much fertilizer, too much or too little water and too much pruning. It sounds like yours are getting the right sun exposure, so it may be one of the other reasons. Watering every day may be too much…they like soil that is moist but not wet. Deep watering once a week usually works best.

      1. Mary Ellen Walsh says:

        I cut my hydrangea completely down in the spring and it came back so beautiful with big green leaves but no blooms. I also gave it some hydrangea fertilizer. I did the same thing to the one on the other side of the house and it is blooming but it doesn’t grow very much. It stays small. The other one is big and no blooms . What do I need to do to get it to bloom.

        1. Wanda Simone says:

          Hi Mary Ellen…given the difference in size, you may have two different types of Hydrangeas. It’s possible that the one which isn’t blooming flowers on last year’s stems, in which case cutting it down would cause it not to bloom this year. There are also some Hydrangeas that don’t start blooming until later in the summer, so it may just be one of those. Since the plant looks healthy, I would let it be and hopefully, it will come around.

    2. Look inside were the buds grow, you my have earwigs eating the buds. I have a problem with this every year. Bayer makes a product to protect your plant from earwigs.

    3. I have big left hydrangea and every year they get huge beautiful blooms. Last year I pruned them for the first time. I am assuming pruning them was the wrong move since this year is the first year they have not bloomed. The plant grew back big and beautiful with green leaves but not flowers. What I want to know is will they bloom next year or did I ruin them forever?

      1. Wanda Simone says:

        Hi Carol…yes, pruning can get rid of the next year’s buds (depending on the variety you have). But they should come back next year.

  2. Lanye Chichester says:

    Hi my name is Lanye, we have the hydrangeas that are balls, pink and blue, every year we get flowers, but for some reason this year we haven’t gotten any, they are in perfect locations and get alot of water and care, just wondering what is going on with them

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Lanye…is it possible that you had a late frost this year? Or that someone accidentally pruned them in the spring? Both of those can prevent them from flowering.

      1. wandadobson says:

        I head my for 2years now an noflowers in sunny places beside house

        1. Wanda Simone says:

          The most common reasons for no flowers are pruning at the wrong time or a late frost that kills off the buds. Since your plants are fairly new, it could also be that they haven’t settled in yet. It can take Hydrangeas 2 or 3 years to get going.

  3. Last year our hydrangeas bloomed beautifully for about 2 weeks and then the leaves got brown spots and the blooms turned brown. We cut them back to about 6 inches and they grew back very well, all about 3.5-4 feet high. We got 0 blossoms. Do you think it was the pruning?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Dawn…yes, the buds were probably cut off when they were pruned. But they should come back next year.

  4. I have the hydrangeas with the big white balls. In early June we had a big thunderstorm with lots on wind. It really knock the flowers down. Since then all the flowers have turn brown looking dead. There are plenty of new leaves coming out and growing. But the plants looks ugly. Do I cut off the dead flowers and will it still bloom this year or will I have to wait until next year?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Kim…you can cut off the dead flowers to make the plant look better. You probably won’t get many a lot of new blooms at this point, but it may surprise you with a few.

      1. I have an Endless Summer & it bloomed 3 years ago. I take care of it the same way every year and it won’t bloom. I fertilize it and it gets about 6 hours of sun. I water it about twice a week and it don’t prune it. It always looks so pretty and green. So what else can I do to get it to bloom?

        1. Wanda Simone says:

          Hi Cindy…the most common reasons why Endless Summer Hydrangeas don’t bloom are late frosts (which kill off the buds for the spring blooms) and over fertilizing or using a high Nitrogen fertilizer (which promotes a lot of leaf growth but no flowers). So you might want to take a look at what type of fertilizer you are using, and choose one with a lower Nitrogen value (that’s the first number). Or maybe stop fertilizing it altogether to see if that helps (I don’t fertilize my Hydrangeas at all and they do fine).

  5. I have a big beautiful Hydrangea macrophylla that gets full sun.
    It is full of blooms every year but the blooms never finish. The outer petals open but not the center.
    I fertilize in the spring

    Any thoughts?
    Thank you

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Carrie…it sounds like you have a lace-cap variety. They have a tendency to do that. (I don’t know of a way to force all of the petals to open). The mophead varieties will open all the way out.

  6. Judy Brehm says:

    I received a hydrangea for a gift one Easter and it was blooming then.
    I planted it outside where it gets sun for at least 6 hours in the morning. It has never bloomed again and it’s been several years since I received it. I water my flowers so it isn’t dry or too wet. I can not understand why it won’t bloom. The plant looks really healthy. Maybe they won’t bloom because of force blooming when they are sold at Easter?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Judy…I have never had very good luck getting those florist Hydrangeas to bloom after they have been planted outside either. Most of them will do better in part shade than full sun, so that may be one thing for you to try. Sorry I’m not much help!

  7. I don’t know what kind of hydrangeas I have. They have not bloomed since we bought this house 16 years ago. The plant itself is a lush shiny green.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Marion…If a Hydrangea bush has lots of leaves and no blooms, it usually means one of three things: 1. It is getting too much fertilizer (if it’s planted close to the grass, the run-off from lawn fertilizer can cause issues), 2. it is being pruned at the wrong time (when in doubt, remove only the blooms right after it has finished flowering to avoid cutting off next year’s buds) or 3. it isn’t getting the right amount of sun (it’s hard to tell if it’s too little or too much sun without knowing what kind of Hydrangea it is). Hope this helps!

  8. We just moved into our new house 3 months ago. It looks like i have a hydrangea Macrophylla plant in my front yard that gets full sun. It’s not as full as it should be and the leafs look like they are burnt at the end.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Penny…it sounds like it might be getting too much sun or maybe not enough water. Hydrangea Macrophylla usually likes part shade, especially in the afternoon. Hydrangeas can be moved successfully, so you could dig it up and put it somewhere with a little less sun. It may take it a year to get established but it should come back better if it’s in a better location. Now is the right time to do that if you want to try it. The other alternative is to give it another year where it is and water often to see if that helps.

  9. Sandra Webb says:

    I moved into my house about 4 years ago. I have ,I think a big leaf hydrangea. It is a huge plant but has never bloomed! I’ve tried cutting it back in the fall, And not cutting it back at all and it still doesn’t bloom.it only gets afternoon sun.I water it frequently. I fertilize in the spring.I’m at a loss as to what to do!

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Sandra…it sounds like you are doing everything right. There are 3 things I can think of. If you you live in an area that is in a borderline zone for Hydrangeas or you typically get frosts in the spring after it has started to leaf out, the buds may get killed off by the cold. If this is the case, try winterizing it by surrounding it with burlap or mounding with straw over the winter (and cover it with a blanket if a late frost comes through in the spring). The second is that the fertilizer you are using has too much nitrogen in it, which causes lots of leaves but not blooms. Look for one that has more Phosphorus (the middle number). If it’s close to the lawn and you use a lot of grass fertilizer, the runoff from that can also cause this problem. The third is that it’s one of the Hydrangeas which likes full sun. In which case, you would have to move it. (If you send a picture, I can tell you if it looks like a sun-loving variety).

  10. Tom Knauff says:

    I cut my hydranges back in late winter almost to the ground. All i got back is green.

    Your advice is too general and no help at all. Is this all you have?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Tom…Without knowing what type of Hydrangea you have, it’s hard to say for sure what the issue is. (If you don’t know what kind you have, they are all described at the beginning of the article). However, I suspect point #1 is your problem. Many Hydrangeas set their buds the summer before. So if you prune them in the fall, winter or spring, you will cut off all of the flowers. If you read the article more carefully, you’ll see there’s only one variety of Hydrangea that we recommend cutting all the way down to the ground.

  11. Barbara a Carter says:

    Thank you for this wonderful information, best I have seen!

  12. Carolyn S. Lasky says:

    I have 2 endless summer hydrangeas. One bloomed profusely but the other, barely, but it gets a bit less sun.They are also much taller and lankier than I wanted. Can I prune them to make them bushier? I can’t tell what kind they are from your article. Is one of the kinds you mention an endless summer, and when should I prune them. I thought I’d read somewhere to prune in early spring. If that’s correct, I should do so now.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Carolyn…Endless Summer Hydrangeas are a type of Hydrangea macrophylla, but they are different because they bloom on both old wood and new wood. They can be pruned, but I would wait until after the spring blooms are done, otherwise you’ll cut off the buds (and you won’t get any flowers). Besides light, too much water and too much fertilizer are the other main reasons why they may not be blooming. If one of them is closer to the grass and gets some lawn fertilizer run-off, that could be the problem. Hope that helps!

      1. Carolyn S. Lasky says:

        I’m confused. You said wait until SPRING blooms are done BUT endless summer presumably means they bloom THROUGH THE SUMMER, so when are SPRING blooms done?

        1. Wanda Simone says:

          Hi Carolyn…sorry for the late response, I just saw your comment now. The reblooming Hydrangeas (like Endless Summer) tend to have a big burst of blooms in the spring, then a little bit of a break where they aren’t blooming, and then the summer blooms start. So it’s usually pretty easy to tell when the spring flowers are finished.

  13. Eve Frazier says:

    Hi there,

    I have two First Light Hydrangeas that are approximately 4 years old and they have never bloomed or even tried to bloom.

    They are on the Southside of the house in an established bed that has an underground watering line. They receive about 6 hours of direct sun every day.

    Any ideas why they will not bloom?

    Thank you,

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Eve…I am not familiar with First Light Hydrangeas…unless you meant Fire Light? In that case, they are Hydrangea paniculata which are generally easy to grow, but can take a while to start blooming especially if the plants were fairly small when you planted them. I have one that bloomed for the first time last year after being in my garden for 5 years, so you may just need some patience 🙂 The most common other reasons for them not to bloom are not enough sun, not enough water and incorrect pruning. Since it sounds like you have the first two covered, just make sure to prune them in the fall or early spring (before the leaves come out) to prevent cutting off the buds.

  14. I have a big leave hydrangeas for 6 years in a pot. It only have one bloom right now, it’s late spring 2021 and I am planning on putting it on the ground. When will it be the right time to do that? I am in south of Texas. Summer will be coming in a couple of weeks is it a good time to plant it on the ground?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Marie…if you can get it out of the pot without disturbing the plant too much, then planting it now would be fine (just make sure to water it well once it is in the ground). If it has grown pretty big in the pot, you might want to wait until the fall.

  15. Franny Howard says:

    Hi I have several different hydrangeas that I planted last spring. They get full morning sun, shade in the afternoon and a bit of late afternoon or early evening sun. I water daily or the leaves droop. The four broad leaf ones are blooming this year. I have four called lime light or little lime. They have the smaller leaves. They have great foliage but no sign of blooms this year yet. I haven’t cut them except to cut the blooms to dry last year in the fall. I haven’t fertilized either. Am I doing something wrong? Should they be moved away from the broad leafed ones?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Franny…I think their location should be fine. It may be a little early for the limelight Hydrangeas to be blooming. Mine are just starting to get buds now. I live in South Carolina, so if you are further North, they may not start to bloom until later in the summer. Also, it can take them a couple of years to get established, so it’s possible they may not bloom until next year or the year after.

  16. Hi, I’m not sure which hydrangeas I have, however, they all bloom fully every year. This year most are flowerless but have long lush green stems/leaves. I’m treating them as I have been in past years.
    I’m in So Calif.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Hana…with lush leaves and no flowers, it sounds like a fertilizer issue. Have you started using lawn fertilizer on your grass? It is formulated for lots of green leaves but can suppress the flowers of plants growing near by. Otherwise, it could be that something in their growing conditions was different this spring (or last summer if they are the type of Hydrangeas that bloom on last year’s stems). Did it rain more (or less) than usual? Was there some other kind of unusual weather event (like a late spring frost or a heat wave)? Anything like that which disrupts them while they are setting buds can prevent the flowers from forming. I hope that helps!

  17. Pamela Albin says:

    I have 3 Pinky Winkys and have had them for years. The are in well drained soil and get plenty of light. This year one is not blooming. What appears to be the beginning of the flower is turning into a crown of small leaves. There are a few brown spots on the leaves, however the nursery says that could be from water. He even told be that the bush appears to be mutating. I sure hope you can help me save this beauty!!

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Pamela…it sounds to me like the plant has a fungus problem. The small crown of leaves could be a “witches’ broom” which is a genetic mutation that can be caused by fungus getting into the branches. And the brown spots on the leaves are also a fungus symptom. If it’s just on the leaves and outer portions of the branches, I would cut the branches back far enough to get rid of all the spots and make sure to clean up any plant debris that falls on the ground. If the spots go all the way down the stems, then I would get rid of the plant. They are hard to save once the fungus takes hold, and it could spread to your other plants.

  18. My hydrangeas have leaves with spots all over them. I’m afraid to spray with fungicide. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Ellen…sorry for the late response. Leaf spot is pretty common in Hydrangeas, especially if you live in an area with high humidity or that gets lots of rain. Spraying with fungicide would help. But I usually leave them alone. It doesn’t look great, but the fungus doesn’t usually hurt the plant. Don’t water overhead and pick up any dead leaves to prevent it from spreading. Your Hydrangeas should come back fine in the spring (although they will probably get the spots again in the late summer and fall).

  19. Can Hydrangeas be divided? When and how?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Joyce…Hydrangeas can be divided, but it isn’t always successful. If you want to try, make sure they are well watered before you start. And it is best to do while they are dormant (late fall or very early spring). Then be vigilant about watering them afterwards so that the new plants take.

  20. Hi! I have a hydrangea with black stems that hasn’t flowered for years. But it is a big beautiful bushy plant lots of full green leaves. Hydrangea right next to it blooms every year-regular colored stems. Both never grow anything from old wood everything grows fresh from ground each spring. Any ideas for how to get the black stem one to flower? Thanks in advance.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Jenny…most black-stemmed Hydrangeas flower on old wood so the fact that it is growing up from the ground every year may be the issue. In the fall, you could try surrounding it with chicken wire and filling it in with leaves to see if you can get the stems to overwinter.

      1. Jennifer Rabehl says:

        Thank you! I will give that a try 🙂