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How Do You Reduce Hydrangea Transplant Shock?

When a plant is moved to another location, it often does not respond in the best way. Some plants feel almost nothing and some drop their leaves.

The hydrangea may experience transplant shock as a result of root damage during transplanting or if it is transplanted at the wrong time. To reduce transplant shock for a hydrangea, shade it for 3 to 4 weeks, water when the soil is 1 inch dry, and remove any inflorescences.

I will tell you about all of this in more detail in the following chapters. There is also plenty more you can do to help your hydrangea survive the transplant.

hydrangea transplant shock

How to reduce hydrangea transplant shock

Don’t damage the root system

When you dig up hydrangeas, it is very important not to damage the root system. Step back from the center of the plant at least 1-2 feet depending on the size of the shrub and only then start digging.

After you dig up the hydrangea, it should have as large a root ball as possible. The soil should remain on the roots, do not shake it off under any circumstances.

Also, do not soak the roots in water. Many recommend putting the roots in a bucket of water for several hours before planting. Don’t do this, you will only wash away the soil, and it will hurt the roots.

Plant the bush in its new location as soon as possible. The soil on the roots must not dry out. If for some reason you don’t have time to plant immediately, moisten the root ball with water, but not too much. The longer you leave the hydrangea unplanted, the less chance it will have of taking root.

Also, when planting in a new location, don’t compact the soil too hard so the roots don’t get damaged. Don’t put soil on the stems or where they start to grow from the roots.

Shade hydrangea as much as possible

The next thing you should do is shade the hydrangea. Too much sun is the reason why the leaves wilt.

After transplanting, the root system is not able to deliver enough moisture to the leaves. At the same time, the sun forces them to evaporate moisture and the plant suffers as a result. To reduce the destructive effects of the sun, place the hydrangea in full shade otherwise the leaves can turn yellow.

The easiest way to create shade is to put a large umbrella above the plant. This will be quite enough, but the rainwater will have slightly worse access to the roots.

The second way is to create a frame of wooden sticks or metal profiles. Then you need to cover the frame with a shading net just like in garden centers. The shading net must screen out more than half of the sun’s rays.

The screen must protect the hydrangea for at least a month. Take it off only when you see young leaves growing. But if the plant reacts negatively, put the shade back on. In the most severe cases, the screen should remain in place until the end of the season.

Remove all flowers

Flowering is a very energy-consuming period in the life of any plant. Hydrangeas spend a lot of effort to create seeds and become weak as a result. If you decide to transplant at this time, it is doubly difficult for the plant.

So transplant hydrangeas in early spring before they flower. But if you need to do it later, be sure to remove the clusters of flowers if any.

Cut off the stem no more than one inch below the inflorescence. Try not to damage other parts of the plant.

You have to remove all the flowers on the shrub, even if they haven’t opened yet. You won’t get any flowers this year, but you will help the plant a lot.

Hydrangeas can also bloom again in a month or two. If this happens, it is a good sign that the plant is doing well and has begun to take root.

Don’t prune the hydrangea

It is often said that removing part of the leaves helps the plant survive transplanting better. But this is not completely true.

After pruning or removal of leaves, the area of moisture evaporation is reduced, but the stress experienced by the plant is very great. If you remove more than a third of the branches and leaves, the plant can die.

On the other hand, it is the foliage that stimulates the development of the root system. Each year, plants first produce young branches and leaves and then develop roots in proportion to the size of the above-ground part. The more leaves the bigger the roots will be.

Therefore, never cut back a hydrangea after transplanting because this will only make things worse.

Water the plant 1-3 times a week in dry weather

Proper watering is another important action that will ease the transplant shock of the hydrangea.

Immediately after transplanting, water the hydrangea twice an hour apart. The amount of water should be enough to soak all the soil around the plant.

Next, you need to check the moisture in the soil and water when it is more than half an inch dry. In dry weather, the surface dries quickly and you will have to water every 2-3 days or more often. In cloudy weather, you will need to water about once a week.

The amount of water should be proportional to the size of the hydrangea. For small bushes, 1 to 2 gallons is sufficient. Larger ones may need 3 or more gallons.

Do not water hydrangeas in rainy weather. In most cases, rainwater is enough to soak up the soil. If you give more water then you will create a swamp and the roots will begin to rot. As a result, you can lose the plant.

Mulch the plant

Mulching hydrangeas after transplanting will have a good effect on rooting.

First of all, the surface near the plant will dry out more slowly and you won’t have to worry about watering often. Besides, mulch prevents the soil from getting too hot in the summer and the plant will feel more comfortable.

The best mulch for Hydrangeas is compost. You should only use quality compost, as saving money in this area can have negative consequences. Pine bark also works well as mulch.

The thickness of the layer of mulch should be at least 1 inch but not more than 2-3 inches. A thinner layer will not protect the soil and a thicker layer will block access to air.

Do not cover the stems with mulch. There should be a gap of at least 1 inch between where the stems connect to the roots and the mulch.

You need to mulch the area around the shrub at least 6 feet in diameter.

Apply rooting hormones

In my growing practice, I sometimes use rooting hormones when transplanting. This is especially true for valuable varieties and when there is a high risk of losing the plant.

Rooting hormones are chemical compounds (auxins) that stimulate the plant to create a root system. Some beneficial fungi also have auxins and use them to create a symbiosis with the plant.

You can find many different products on the market that help with rooting. Powder and water-soluble rooting hormones work best. Sprinkle some powder in the hole before planting and powder the root ball.

After planting, water the hydrangea several times a week apart with a water-soluble rooting hormone.

Do not expect too much from these substances, but they will help the plant especially in the beginning.

Mist the leaves

Moistening the leaves is a very good practice when transplanting hydrangeas. This way you increase the humidity around the plant and as a result, the leaves evaporate less water.

I know it can be very time-consuming, but it actually has a positive effect. So that you don’t spend too much time wetting the leaves, you need to shade the hydrangeas as I mentioned above. Then during the watering, pour the water over the shading net. A wet shading net will keep the humidity around the plant at a high level.

There can be negative consequences of this method, namely the leaves can be damaged by fungal diseases due to the prolonged wet period. So do not moisten the leaves for more than a month after transplanting.

Also, do it only when the weather is dry. If the weather is cloudy or rainy, moistening is unnecessary. Another important point is not to do it more than twice a day.

Give fertilizer with phosphorus

Three basic elements form the plant. The first is nitrogen, which is responsible for leaf growth. The second is potassium, which forms the branches and trunk of the tree. And the third is phosphorus, which is responsible for the roots.

The more phosphorus a hydrangea gets, the more powerful its root system will be. It is best if you use a slow-release fertilizer with a high phosphorus content. Hydrangeas will then get all the elements in the right amounts and regularly.

This also means you need to avoid nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Otherwise, this will cause rapid growth of leaves which might wilt.