Q: My Hydrangeas are only putting out new growth from the bottom of the plant – all the buds on old growth seem to have dried up and last year’s stalks are totally dry and dead. What should I do?
A: Hydrangeas really took a hit this winter. Most of the old fashioned Mophead and Lacecap Hydrangeas are indeed only showing growth at the base of the shrub. Not only did they suffer a drought going into winter but they were also exposed to extreme cold and a freeze thaw that has killed most of the top growth. Sadly, there will not be any blooms this year for the first time in over 10 years on Nikko Blues, Preziosas, Blue Billow or Bluebirds. We’ll have to wait until next spring to see them come back.
The newer reblooming species like Endless Summer and most of the newer hybrids (which are hardier and bloom on old and new wood) will be fine but will bloom a little later in the season if the tips are cut. The same goes for the Paniculatas (Peegees) and Aborescens (Annabelles) which bloom on new wood growth.
What to do ? Well, you can intersperse the clumps with annuals or buy a few of the newer reblooming Hydrangeas which come in all colors and types, see how they do, and at least enjoy some Hydrangea blooms this year!