How do I know if or when my tree is suppose to bloom, as of right now it looks dead and I don’t see any buds?
Your standard, or tree, hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata, will still be dormant in early spring, although as the weather becomes warmer you should be able to see the beginning swelling of leaf buds on close inspection. Flower buds will form in early summer for blooms that will typically appear in July and should last through to September. This type of hydrangea blooms on “new wood,” that is, flowers appear on branches that are produced in the same spring. This means that if you would like to prune your hydrangea for size or for shape you can do this right now, before the leaf buds appear. Here is a good description of the pruning process for standard or tree hydrangeas.
Hydrangea paniculata is a very hardy species, and I feel reasonably certain that yours should have weathered our relatively mild winter.