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What Does It Mean When Hydrangeas Turn Green?

Throughout my practice of growing plants, I am constantly encountering more and more unusual phenomena. Plants are living organisms and are capable of mutations and other unusual manifestations. One of these is green flowers, which can baffle even the seasoned gardener.

The ordinary maturation of the inflorescences is the main reason why a hydrangea turning green. There is nothing dangerous about this for the plant. Hydrangeas change color to green for internal reasons and you don’t have to do anything about it.

This does not always happen, under ideal conditions, hydrangeas rarely turn green. But on the other hand, it is almost impossible to achieve such conditions. Some factors are not the cause but are auxiliary to a change in hydrangea color.

Why are my hydrangea leaves turning green? Description
Hydrangea flowers turn green as they mature Changing the colors of hydrangea flowers, including green, is a normal life cycle of flowers.
Short daylight hours Hydrangeas make up for their lack of internal energy by photosynthesizing their petals.
Weather Strong heat and high humidity are favorable factors for a change in hydrangea color to green.
Green-flowering varieties Some varieties of hydrangeas have natural light green or bright green flowers.

Hydrangea flowers turn green as they mature

Hydrangea turning green

Hydrangea turns green over the course of the life cycle.

Whatever color the hydrangea is, it is constantly changing. Usually, the young flowers have a brighter and richer color. But the closer the summer comes, the paler the color becomes. In the heat of summer, the flowers can even get a little burnt and turn brown.

At the end of the season, some hydrangeas turn pink. But one way or another, they all turn brown and dry out in early winter.

Throughout the changes, sometimes hydrangea petals can turn greenish even though their original color is white. This happens very often with Incrediball and Annabelle hydrangeas.

This does not mean that there is anything wrong with the plant. Nor does it mean that the plants are sick. This is the normal life cycle of a flower and you should not worry too much about this.

Some gardeners try to change the green color by changing the soil pH. Indeed, in most cases, flowers are green in neutral soil. It is also well known that some hydrangeas turn blue in acidic soils and pink in alkaline soils.

But in this case, by changing the pH, nothing can be achieved. The flowers will stay the same. In addition, changing the soil pH is a long-term process, and in the following year, the flowers can have their natural color without any intervention by the gardener.

Short daylight hours

Hydrangeas usually do not turn green until the second half of summer. At this time, seeds begin to form. Also, the number of hours of sunshine begins to decrease. But the plant needs its energy for seed formation, so the petals also begin to take part in photosynthesis.

Not all hydrangeas turn green in the same way. Hydrangeas that have enough vigor internally to make seed do not usually discolor their flowers. Weaker hydrangeas need help in the form of chlorophyll-filled flowers.

This does not mean that increasing the amount of sunlight for the hydrangea will prevent the flowers from turning green. The plant is a complex structure whose inner processes are not yet fully known. So if you move a hydrangea into the full sun it can get sunburn.

Most hydrangeas need dappled sun in the afternoon. Hydrangea paniculata can tolerate full sun if grown in the north, but in the south, it too needs partial shade like most other hydrangeas.

If possible, move your hydrangea to a slightly sunnier location. This does not guarantee any result, though.

In general, hydrangeas need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.

Annabelle and Incrediball hydrangeas turning green

Annabelle and Incrediball hydrangeas turning green.


There is also some correlation between weather conditions and changes in hydrangea color. If the conditions were unfavorable, the hydrangea can get stressed and the flowers will become greenish.

This is especially true if there is a lot of heat. It is well known that hydrangeas like water and if there is not enough water, the flowers may first turn slightly green and then brown.

The situation is further exacerbated by high humidity. If you live in a place with high humidity, you may notice that the petals turn green in hot weather. This is the hydrangea’s response to stressful conditions.

This is all a consequence of the normal growing method to which we are all accustomed. But in nature, hydrangeas grow mainly in the shade of large trees. Accordingly, it constantly receives diffused light, does not suffer from overheating, and the high humidity it can tolerate for a while.

What to do when a hydrangea turns green?

If your hydrangea flowers turn green, there is nothing you can do to bring them back to their usual color immediately. But recreating the plant’s native conditions can prevent future color changes.

The first thing to do is to provide your hydrangea with the dappled sun. That is, the plant should get plenty of diffused sun, but not the direct and scorching sun. This is especially true of bigleaf hydrangea, and to a lesser extent of hydrangea paniculata.

The second is watering. Hydrangeas should get plenty of water so that all parts of the root system get it. Between waterings, the soil should dry out 1 to 2 inches but no more. Avoid frequent superficial watering, as this can cause root rot and yellowing leaves.

And lastly, before planting the hydrangea, add 2-3 buckets of compost or peat to the planting hole to make the soil looser. This will also make the substrate a little more drained.

Green-flowering varieties

Limelight and Little Lime hydrangeas turning green

Limelight Hydrangea and Little Lime Hydrangea.

You should also know that there are some varieties of hydrangeas that have natural light green flowers.

The first of these is the ‘Limelight’ Hydrangea. It can grow in full sun as well as in partial shade. In most cases, the flowers will have a lime hue. At maturity, this hydrangea will grow to 3 feet tall and 2.5 feet wide. If you want a hydrangea with such color flowers, ‘Limelight’ is a good choice.

The second variety is ‘Little Lime’. It is a dwarf version of the earlier variety because it seldom exceeds two feet in height or width. The petals are a little more greenish and it grows more slowly. If you have a small garden, ‘Little Lime’ is best.

There are also some varieties of Hydrangea macrophylla that have pure green flowers. Their color is so bright that they look very unusual, so they are a collector’s item.

Key Takeaways:

  • It is very common for hydrangeas to turn green because of the life cycle of the flowers. In this case, no action is necessary.
  • The lack of sunlight hours forces the flowers to photosynthesize. As a result, the hydrangea changes color to green. In this case, you can increase the amount of light the plant receives. This does not guarantee anything, though.
  • High heat and humidity can cause the hydrangea to change color to green. Try to recreate the hydrangea in its native environment.
  • Several hydrangeas have greenish or green petals. Very often they are valuable collector plants.