Where Are the Colorful Hydrangeas?

This has been a strange year. Hydrangea Macrophylla - the blue and pink midsummer bloomers - are not doing very well. Many of the branches didn't survive the winter, and there aren't that many flowers. The problem was the spring freeze. The winter was very mild, which encouraged the plants to start their spring awakening, or break dormancy, a little too early. Hardy shrubs winterize themselves, which protects them from harsh weather, but once a plant breaks dormancy, it loses this protection. The plant pumped moisture through the branches, and all this water made them susceptible to frost damage. The insides of the buds turned to mush and we lost the summer flowers. Some of the shrubs lost all of their branches, leaving a skeleton of sticks where the shrub should be.

Fortunately, most of the plants are healthy. Some of the buds were spared, and many of the new hybrids can flower on new wood - so there are some flowers. Even in every branch was killed, the roots were not harmed and their should be some healthy new growth coming from the base. These healthy branches should form new buds for next summer.  If there was severe dieback, the plant may have spent so much energy on regrowth that it doesn't have much left for flowers, so don't worry if next summer is a little sparse: given a little time, the plant will regain its former glory.