Nikko Blue Hydrangea. What is the secret to making them bloom?
I think I’ve discovered the secret to making Nikko Blue Hydrangea bloom like crazy.
Leave them alone! Really. Quit tinkering with your plants trying to give them every little thing they need. What they really need is good soil, and adequate amount but not an over abundance of water and some sunshine. That’s about it. Quit fertilizing them and pouring all kinds of concoctions on them.
They know what to do. They are genetically wired to do one thing and only one thing. Make leaves and make flowers! Okay, so that’s two things. But they know that. They don’t need you sticking your nose in their business. If you give them the three things mentioned above and leave them alone they will grow and bloom.
When Should I Trim or Prune my Nikko Blue Hydrangea?
Nikko Blue is in the macrophylla family of hydrangeas and therefore most people say to prune it right after it blooms. That’s great advice and you should follow it, but this spring I discovered something that has me a little perplexed. I bought about 50 Nikko Blues this spring. They were in the field and were dug just a tad late. On top of that I think they got tazed by a little frost. That’s a new gardening term, Tazed. In other words, they didn’t look so good, and were pretty much unappealing.
So I decided to prune them really hard, even though it was the middle of May.
What happened? After they were pruned they flushed out with beautiful new growth and then started blooming like crazy! Not only did I prune them in the middle of May, I cut them back really hard. I’ll show you.
Can you believe that? Look at all of the cuts that I made. Look at how low I cut the plant back. When I was done pruning all I had left was a pot with a stump in it. I had to cut off all of the flower buds right? I’m pretty sure when I was done pruning there were no flower buds left on the plant. Probably weren’t any before I started pruning.
I cut all 50 plants back exactly the same way. This is how they look now in mid July. And they all bloomed with great big flowers like this one.
Why isn’t My Nikko Blue Hydrangea Blue?
That’s another thing. If you look at the photos in this post you will see a variety of different color flowers. These plants were all treated exactly the same way. Nothing was added to the soil to make them bloom or change or enhance the color of the blooms in any way. They were all dug bare root out of the field in April then all potted in exactly same potting mix. No fertilizer was applied when they were potted. We didn’t get around to adding fertilizer until June and the fertilizer that we use is super slow release so it had little if any effect on these plants.
Which raises a Really Interesting Question about Fertilizing Your Plants.
I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it many, many times in the future.
Quit tinkering with your plants!
They don’t need all of those store bought concoctions to make them do this or do that, sing and dance and jump over the moon. They just don’t need it! They need good soil that drains well, water on a regular basis, and sunshine. That’s what they need. That’s all they need.
Mike! Liar, liar Pants on Fire!
You just said you fertilized these hydrangeas in June! You’re telling me not to fertilize and you are fertilizing. You tell me one thing and then you do something else yourself. What gives Mike?
Great question! You caught me. This is really important for you to understand. The plants in my landscape do not get fertilized ever. Except maybe the roses because if and when I remember to do so I spray them with Bayer 3-1 Rose and Flower Spray and that does contain some fertilizer. All of the other plants in my landscape do not get fertilized ever. They haven’t been fertilized since I bought them, and you’ve seen pictures of my landscapes.
Why no fertilizer for the plants in my landscape? They just don’t need it. They do absolutely fine without it.
Why Do I Fertilize Plants in Containers?
Plants that are grown in the nursery in containers are grown in what is called a soil-less growing mix. In other words, the soil in the pot is not soil at all and it does not contain any soil. It’s usually a combination of bark mixes. There are a lot of reasons for this and a big one is drainage. These bark mixes drain really well. But that means that a lot of nutrients are getting washed away before they can be absorbed by the plant. And these soil-less mixes are really low in nutrients to begin with. So plants grown in containers have to be fertilized. Plants in a landscape do not have to be fertilized. I hope that makes sense.
How Do I Make My Nikko Blue Hydrangea Blue?
If your Nikko Blue is not Blue, or Blue enough you can add Aluminum Sulfate to the soil and that should make the blooms more blue in color. You can get the Aluminum Sulfate at any full service garden center.
How Do You Propagate Hydrangeas?
Most hydrangeas are easy to propagate if you do them in the summer using soft new growth. Not spring, but summer. Mid June or later. Information on exactly how to root softwood cuttings can be found here.
So . . . What Did We Learn from this Post?
Quit tinkering with you plants. Just let them be plants. They know what to do. In order for plants to make a flower bud they have to slow down or almost quit growing all together to work on flower buds. But if you are dumping all kind of performance enhancing concoctions on them they can’t slow down and make flowers. It’s like you holding the accelerator peddle all the way to the floor then trying to turn the corner. It just not going to work!
Questions? Comments? Mean things to say?