Endless Summer Hydrangea: Where’s the Blooms?

– Posted in: Hydrangeas, Pests, Plagues, and Varmints

Almost exactly a year ago, my ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea was blooming. This year, as you can see above, it doesn’t even have buds.

What Went Wrong?

Okay, I forgot to feed it. Does it completely fail to make buds without fertilizer? I think not. It may not flower as profusely, and the blooms may not be as big, but no flowers at all?

The weather was not to its liking. There was that late May freeze. Yes, I covered it, but still. Other covered plants showed visible damage. Perhaps the hydrangea suffered damage that I couldn’t see, that killed the flower buds. Certainly the smaller hydrangea nearby got hit. It never recovered, either.

And the weather is still not to its liking. I think Hydrangea macrophylla likes more heat to its summer. We’ve scarcely hit 80F the whole summer. Not that I, personally, am complaining.

What’s Eating Them?

Are these critters causing those spots?

Are these critters causing those spots?

By now you may have noticed that the leaves are covered with spots. I’m not sure if this yet-to-be-identified bug above is causing them, or if it’s a disease, such as Cercospora leaf spot.
Some of the damage is from snails, I bet.

Some of the damage is from snails, I bet.

If I’ve read it once, I’ve read it a hundred times: when a plant succumbs to insects or disease, it’s usually because it was already stressed by something else. The big question is: what was (or is) that something? Lack of fertilizer and bad weather, or something else?
You can click on any of the captioned images for a closer look. Maybe you can tell me what's afflicting this plant.

You can click on any of the captioned images for a closer look. Maybe you can tell me what's afflicting this plant.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

Comments on this entry are closed.

Lyn July 25, 2013, 3:01 pm

This is the third growing season for my endless summer hydrangea. It was damaged by frost last year but still bloomed. This year the plant got huge & has some leaves with black spots but majority of leaves are fine. I fertilized in spring but no blooms or buds this year. I believe I’m in zone 5. So have no clue as to why its not blooming

Kathy Purdy July 26, 2013, 1:19 pm

If you are up north, it may not get enough sun, or it may not have gotten enough heat. If you get buds/blooms in August, it is blooming on new wood, but the buds that it carried through the winter got killed.

annabelle September 19, 2012, 2:47 pm

the leaves on my hydrancea look awful, they are chewed on and have black spots what is this? how do i get rid of it.

Joyce June 27, 2012, 2:19 pm

My first year with Twist-n-Shout hydrangea——when flower dies—do you cut it off or let it just sit on the plant (looks ugly)?

Tricia September 12, 2009, 11:41 pm

I have 12 endless summer plants. This is their 3rd summer. In past summers I have had beautiful pink and blue flowers. This year lots of new growth, lots of flowers, no bugs but….. the blooms are not pretty pink and or blue but mostly a greyish pinkish color. I have used the mixtures for blue and pink color twice but only a few blossoms are pink and blue. Any ideas ??

Kathy Purdy September 13, 2009, 2:31 pm

You need alkaline soil for pink flowers. You need acid soil for blue flowers. If you are applying fertilizer for both pink and blue, it seems to me you are neutralizing the soil and are just getting a middle-of-the-road mixed up color. If the shrubs that you want to bloom pink are separated by a good distance from the shrubs that you want to bloom blue, you can apply different fertilizer to the different groups, and have one group pink, and the other group blue. But you can’t have a group of Endless Summer shrubs be mixed pink and blue. They all share the same soil pH and will all be the same color, more or less.

Leslie August 5, 2009, 4:59 pm

Endless Summer hydrangeas do not bloom if over watered, whether rain or hand watered. We are in Zone 7b/8a. Tons of blooms in years past, but temps are lower this year and way too much rain result in fewer blossoms. We will take the rain and more days in the 80’s instead of high 90’s and 100’s, thanks. Leave your plants alone and mulch deeply and high on plant for the winter. Uncover after last frost, fertilize with 10-30-10 slow release every 3 weeks, water only if wilted in the a.m., and thank God for the rain. Happly blooming.

Gina July 25, 2009, 1:01 pm

I also have no blooms on 4 plants that all bloomed well last summer. I live in zone 4 Vermont — its been a very rainy summer and not very hot, so I suspect that is part of the problem. I did prune mine in spring as well, but the old wood was dead anyway. I have tons of green foliage but no flowers. I keep hoping some will show in August. On the spots, we were hit by similar small black spots, and as someone else said, they are caused by the four lined plant bug. They are bright green bugs with black parallel lines, and do a real number on my butterfly bush, hydrangea, mint, lavender and oregano, among others. You can use pyretheum (sp?) based sprays to help get rid of them — we tried that and it has helped, although I think if we had done that earlier in the spring it would have been even better. I have also been told that neem oil early in the season helps to get the buggers before they mature, and that when cutting plants back in fall, you sould take the cuttings and bag them, because the bugs lay their eggs in “slits” in the woody stems of the plants for next year, so if you can cut them away and bag them, you may help avoid a problem next year.

Susan July 24, 2009, 9:20 am

The reason they mention not cutting it down is because new buds form on the old wood. I understand your thinking though. Since it is so cold where you are (Zone 5), they will be killed off anyway early. I don’t know if covering them would help this or not. If not, then I agree, there is no point in not cutting off the old wood.

Donalyn July 24, 2009, 8:44 am

Interesting info Susan. Unfortunately, I can’t follow their advice about not cutting back to the ground, since mine dies back to the ground every winter. I have tried leaving the structure of the shrub in place, but no leaves grow last year’s wood at all – just new growth from the base of the plant. I am sure this has a great deal to do with the lack of blooms most years. I’m in zone 5, and you would think they would realize that no growth is going to occur on old wood. Do you guys up in these colder parts get growth on old wood, or does yours die back to the ground as well?
.-= Donalyn´s last blog ..It’s like, so – you know – wild, man! =-.

Susan July 24, 2009, 8:06 am

I just came across this great article on detailed tips for blooms on Endless Summer Hydrangea.

kathyg July 23, 2009, 11:38 am

Looks like ‘four-lined plant bug’ damage to me; they do like the hydrangea family. Also fertilizing very early in spring with 10-30-10- or a similar product stimulates good blooming. I have found siting the plant with morning sun and afternoon shade works best for me here in NE WI. Also maintaining a good watering schedule not allowing the soil to dry too deeply. Even if it is rated for zone 4, I have found good winter protection will get the plant up and running earlier in spring for better growth and bloom. (Just my tips that work for me.)
.-= kathyg´s last blog ..Cop Who Arrested Black Scholar Talks =-.

Donalyn July 19, 2009, 8:21 am

Mine is getting huge this year because it loves the rain, and fortunately, no spots. No signs of blooming either though. It is still very attractive, and I’ll leave it so long as it still makes a nice foliage accent. We finally caved and put out snail bait everywhere because the snails and slugs were making such a mess of everything. I am putting in a couple PeeGees this year – I expect they will do much better.
.-= Donalyn´s last blog ..Distraction =-.

Bloomin' Blogger July 20, 2009, 10:29 am

The slugs and snails can make a mess of things, but I have found that spraying the plants with soapy water seems to deter then. I use about a teaspoon of dawn or joy in a quart of water and make sure to spray the leaves, stems and the ground beneath the plants. It does seem to work… so far. I am also having good luck keeping the deer away from my hostas and daylilies with Repellex. I am waiting for the deer to decide that they like the Repellex, but so far so good.
.-= Bloomin’ Blogger´s last blog .. =-.

Susan July 15, 2009, 3:44 pm

Wow, I thought I was the only one who had a non-blooming Endless Summer Hydrangea. Now this was supposed to be the greatest Hydrangea since sliced bread as far as blooms go. As Les mentioned, even if buds on old wood is killed off by a frost, new buds should be forming on the new wood.

I have no spots, new growth….and no flowers. The first year I bought it in bloom. No blooms the second year and now no blooms the third.

I think it should be called Enless Ripofff Hydrangea.

NordeastB July 15, 2009, 1:28 pm

I listen to a Saturday morning gardening radio show here in the Twin Cities (MN) and in the past month there have been 2 calls every show about Endless Summer not blooming. The “experts” suggested stressing the plant by not watering as often to produce blooms. Could this plant been brought to market too soon and not tested enough?

Elsa in Canada July 15, 2009, 9:38 am

I have the same problem, lots of black spots and no blooms. The black spots are not only on zll of my hydrangeas, I also have them on my mums, butterfly bush, sage, speedwell, dahlias, the list goes on. I have been to several nurseries and each one has given me different answers as to what could be causing the black spots, I’ve narrowed it down to some kind of fungus caused by all the rain and cool temperatures.

Nancy July 15, 2009, 12:30 am

Same dissappointment in Chicago, no blooms

Dee/reddirtramblings July 14, 2009, 5:08 pm

Kathy, those Endless Summer Hydrangeas rarely bloom for me, and it should be hot enough here for them. I thought they were reputed to make buds all summer long. Now, I’m not expecting that, but any blooms at all would help. Meanwhile, my ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangeas are still looking good in spite of a late freeze and horrid summer temps. Take that Endless Summer.~~Dee
.-= Dee/reddirtramblings´s last blog ..Dear Friends and Gardeners, Week 19 =-.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter July 14, 2009, 3:03 pm

My mopheads aren’t blooming as profusely as last summer either. They each have only 2 bloom head this year. I thought I fertilized them. It could be that the cold of last winter & the snow in spring killed off most of the old growth, and the new growth hasn’t started to set buds yet. I hope yours do bloom in August.
.-= Mr. McGregor’s Daughter´s last blog ..Weird Oakleaf Hydrangea Flowers =-.

arythrina July 14, 2009, 11:48 am

My hydrangea (Forever and Ever, I think) is doing the exact same thing: plenty of leaves, no buds, some spots.
I’m a little disappointed, but willing to cut it some slack. I just planted it last summer – in bloom from the nursery – so maybe it needs more time? Not encouraging to read others comments, though.
.-= arythrina´s last blog ..Sunny, shady. =-.

Catherine July 14, 2009, 11:18 am

I’m in NE Ohio, and my hydrangeas have only itty bitty blooms on them this year. And I’ve got the spots too. hmmm…

jeff-nhn July 14, 2009, 10:14 am

I have 7 Endless Summers in my yard. All the plants are in perfect condition but only 4 of them are blooming. This is the fourth season and a couple of them have not bloomed since season 2. I’m considering transplanting to another location to see if that will help with the blooming issues. When in bloom the plants are stunning. The plants that are not blooming add a nice texture to the perennial bed but I really want the blooms.

Gail July 14, 2009, 9:58 am

I don’t know Kathy, but it surely is frustrating! I’ve given up on any hydrangeas except the natives. The conditions in my garden are not friendly to them. gail
.-= Gail´s last blog ..They’re Back =-.

Les July 14, 2009, 5:34 am

Even if your late freeze killed the flower buds, which is a real problem for regular hydrangeas, the Endless Summer also blooms on new growth and should have flowers. Perhaps they are late because your cooler than normal weather has limited new growth, and yes some fertilizer would help with that. I use organic all purpose, nothing special. The spots could be caused by excessive rain fall or moisture on the foilage, but is not usually fatal. Good luck!
.-= Les´s last blog ..A Morning at the Beach =-.