Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

The mystery of the missing buds

Posted by: Lynn Underwood under Flowers, Perennials, Trees Updated: June 12, 2014 - 2:21 PM

I remember all the hoopla when Endless Summer hydrangeas made their big debut in 2004. Our local Bailey Nurseries developed this show-stopping beauty that everyone was talking about.  It was the first repeat flowering big-leaf hydrangea and would even flourish in northern climates. Word spread that we could have big blossoms from July to early September.

How could I resist?

I bought two from a local garden center and planted them in a primo sunny spot right in front of the house. Summer after summer, the two bushes sprouted soccer ball-sized clusters of pink flowers. Okay - I’m exaggerating - but they sure were showy. Mine were pink because I had alkaline soil. Acidic soil produces blue hydrangeas. One August, my hydrangea blossoms decorated each table at my niece’s baby shower

But after five magnificent seasons, my Endless Summers gradually quit sprouting endless blossoms. Each summer, the number of cauliflower-shaped buds would dwindle.

So I followed some of the tips for “Blooming Success” from the Endless Summer website. I applied 10-30-10 fertilizer a couple of times in the spring. I was really careful not to cut dried stems to the ground until all the new foliage came in since Endless Summers bloom on old and new growth. I covered the base with mulch in the fall and didn’t remove it until May.

But nothing seemed to work. The buds were down to zero. What had changed over the past few years? Then I figured it out. Although this hydrangea can thrive in partial shade, it needs at least six hours of sun a day to produce flowers. I had planted a nearby Linden tree 20 years ago. That tree was now 25 feet tall. Each summer, less nourishing sunlight was filtering through its branches to the hydrangeas.

Once again, my Endless Summers’ foliage looks so green and lush  - but there’s not one sign of even one tiny bud. So I’ve gone from perplexed to acceptance. I’ll never have the soccer ball -sized pink flowers ever again. Unless I climb a very tall ladder and cut off a bunch of thick branches from the Linden tree. And that’s not happening.

Do you have shrubs or perennials that one time produced a riot of flowers but have inexplicably stopped?
Did you move it to a new location and have better luck?

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