This hydrangea woke up early and then I think the buds got damaged from the cold. I covered it on the cold nights, but evidently that wasn't enough protection. The buds along last years canes are not dead, but the leaves are sort of mishapen and not growing at a normal rate. I can see some flowers forming, but I imagine they will be more stunted as well. There is a lot of new, lush growth coming up from the bottom. It did this once before and I hated looking at a plant with a lot of semi bare canes sticking out for most of the summer.
Is it better that I cut off all the canes with the damaged buds and just let the new growth take over? And then I guess I should do a better job next year making sure it doesnt get nipped again. Ironically, the hydrangea near the house that I didn't cover came through without a bit of damage. This one is my problem child.
This year the strange weather may have been responsible. Only two of mine ended up looking more like yours and I just cut them back to a more attractive shape. Whether I lose blooms or not, I couldn't bear looking at them like that for the rest of the year.
yeah, I used to not want to lose the flowers, but I hate those bare stems. I think I'll try living with it a few more weeks. Maybe if it warms up the new growth will come up high enough to hide more of them. So annoying!