HydrangeasThat Will Bloom in the North
If you are wondering why you can't get hydrangeas to bloom, it might just be that you don't have the right variety that is hardy in your zone. At one time, there were not many hydrangeas that would bloom in the northern states. The old standard Annabelle was one of the only ones to choose from. Maybe you'd like more choices in bloom color though. Newer varieties are now available that do well here and many even bloom from early summer until fall.
For years all we had to pick from were those that bloomed on old wood. These hydrangeas usually came back year after year, but never had a bloom on them. Exceptions were Annabelle and PeeGee. The older Annabelles had huge blooms but the flowers often fell because the stems weren't sturdy enough. PeeGees grew so tall, they didn't work for all landscapes.
Now we have many new varieties to choose from in many different sizes. Most bloom throughout the summer months.
New Varieties That Bloom in the North
Bella Anna (Zones 4-9)
Bella Anna is a new variety of Endless Summer and came on the scene in 2011.The new variety has a magenta pink bloom. These hydrangeas bloom all summer reaching a mature height of 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide.It should bloom its first year and butterflies love it. Another good feature are the strong stems it has to support the large blooms.
Blushing Bride (Zones 5-9)
Blushing Bride will provide an endless bloom all summer, since it blooms on both old and new wood. It is a newer variety of Endless Summer. The hydrangea starts with white mophead blooms that turn to a light pink. It grows 3-6 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide.
Endless Summer (Zones 4-9)
Endless Summer blooms on both the old and new wood, causing it to rebloom all summer. It will put on pink or blue blooms depending on how you fertilize it. Mine has had a mixture of both and it looks beautiful with the combination. Flowers are large, 8-10 inches in diameter. Shrubs get 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Here in Michigan, mine doesn't get this tall. It is about 3 1/2 feet tall by about the same width.
Forever and Ever (Zones 5-9)
Many varieties of Forever and Ever are available. One variety is called Peppermint and has pink blooms with white edges. These pretty hydrangeas have a mophead type bloom. The hydrangea will bloom from early summer through fall. These hydrangeas depending on variety can grow to 48 inches tall and 35 inches wide. It likes partial shade. The one I have is a slow grower, but I don't think this is typical.
Incrediball (Zones 3-9)
Incrediball is called a pumped up version of Annabelle. The blooms are huge, up to 12" in diameter. Like Annabelle, the blooms start out as a light lime green and turn to white. This hydrangeas grows to 5 feet tall. The newer versions of Annabelle have stronger stems, so they don't flop over so easily.I haven't purchased one yet, but plan to in the future.
Invincibelle Spirit (Zones 3-9)
No matter what your soil type is, this hydrangea will bloom a dark pink 6" bloom. This is another variety that will bloom from spring to fall. It blooms on new growth only.
Lets Dance Starlight (Zones 5-10)
This pretty shrub blooms on both old and new wood. It is what is considered a lace-cap type hydrangea. It is known for vibrant color that blooms every summer. You can change the color by changing the soil pH. This hydrangea will grow from 24" tall to 36" and the same width, so is a good one to grow if you want something shorter.
Limelight Hydrangea (Zones 3-10)
Limelight is an excellent grower and bloomer in my Zone 5 garden. You want to place this hydrangea in a place where it doesn't matter if it grows as tall as 10'. I haven't had a better bloomer. The flowers are cone shaped rather than ball shape. Southern growers love this hydrangea too, because it withstands draught better than others. The flowers start green and turn to a rose color and last well into fall when other flowers are finished for the season. Limelight is a variety of paniculata hydrangeas. This is one hydrangea that needs some sun.
Little Lamb (Zones 3-8)
Little Lamb hydrangea is a dwarf variety, but can still grow 6-8 ft tall and spread 5-6 ft wide. The blooms are smaller than other hydrangeas and are a pure white. The blooms will turn to a light pink in the fall. The PH of the soil doesn't affect this variety. It will bloom from midsummer until fall and is a very hardy variety that can thrive with little care. This variety likes sun.
Peegee (Zones 3-8)
If you don't keep a Peegee trimmed it can grow to be 25 feet tall! This is an old fashioned white blooming variety. It will bloom most of the season starting with a white bloom that turns pink and in the fall will be a rusty color. This variety prefers some shade. Flowers are produced on new wood. This variety can be pruned and grown as a tree.
Our city cemetery has several of these growing and they seem to do well. One of these days, I'm going to take a cutting and grow one for myself.
Pinky Winky (Zones 3-8)
Pinkly Winky blooms midsummer to frost. Blooms are bi-colored with pink and white. This hydrangea has large blooms and strong stems to hold them. They grow 6-8 ft tall and just as wide. This shrub can take partial sun to partial shade. I have not tried this one, but it sounds like a good one.
Quick Fire (Zones 4-8)
Quick Fire is known for its early bloom, usually an entire month earlier than many other varieties. The shrub will bloom from early summer to fall. This is a variety of the PeeGee hydrangea. Blooms start white and turn pink and then rose. Flowers bloom on new wood, so you won't have to worry about hard winters. It grows 6-8 ft tall and has a 3-5 ft spread.
Sadie Ray (Zones 5-9)
Blooms are pink or blue depending on the acid content of the soil. Flowers are similar to the Nikko Blue hydrangea. You need to protect the shrub in its first season. It grows 5 feet tall by 5 feet wide. Bloom size is 6 to 8 inches. The blooms are pink, but you can add acid for a blue bloom turning to green in the fall. It can rebloom in mild climates.
Vanilla Strawberry (Zones 4-9)
Vanilla Strawberry is a beauty. It has 10" flowers that are 3-colored with white, pink and rose. Blooms from early summer to fall. It grows to 6' tall and 5' wide.
Other Reasons Hardy Hydrangeas Might Not Bloom
Hydrangeas like partial shade, but most need some sunlight to bloom. Try moving the shrub to a better spot.
Improper pruning can be another cause for not getting blooms. If it only blooms on old wood and you prune it or cut it down in the fall, it may not bloom the next year.
Weather can freeze the blossom buds. If a late freeze or hard frost occurs in May, it is a good idea to cover the hydrangea to protect the buds from freezing. You may not see them on the shrub yet, but cover it as they may just be forming.
It helps to fertilize in the spring to give them an early start.
You won't be sorry if you purchase one of these beautiful shrubs. A hydrangea will give you years of enjoyment. The large blooms are great for drying and both fresh blooms and dried blooms will look beautiful in your home.