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Why Are My Hydrangea Leaves Wilting?

Hydrangeas, like many other plants, have their own peculiarities and to grow them successfully you need to know some of those peculiarities. This article is intended to answer one of the most common problems of growing hydrangeas.

Underwatering and excessive heat are the main reasons for hydrangea wilt. To fix drooping leaves, water hydrangeas as soon as the soil is 1 inch dry and provide at least 4 to 6 hours of shade. Also, avoid overwatering and make sure that there is good air exchange around the hydrangea to avoid wilting or drooping of the leaves.

Hydrangea wilting because of too much sun and heat

Most hydrangeas do not like the full sun; they need a few hours of direct sunlight a day; the rest of the time, they prefer to be in the shade. The most comfortable temperature for these plants is 70 ° F (21 ° C).

However, not everyone has the opportunity to provide such conditions. As a result, in the summer heat, the leaves begin to wither.

This most often happens when the sun shines too brightly, and the air temperature rises above 80 ° F (26 ° C). In such conditions, the evaporation of water through the leaves is very intense, so the hydrangea tries to cool with cold water from underground.

However, the roots may not be able to deliver the required amount of water to the leaves, and they may droop.

If this happened once and the next morning, the leaves look good, then you do not need to do anything. However, if the problem persists, then you will have to pay more attention to it.

There are several different measures to solve this problem, and they work best in combination, let’s consider them.

Read also: What hydroponics system is the best?

Hydrangea wilting because of too much sun and heat.

Hydrangea wilting because of too much sun and heat.

Increase the frequency of watering

Frequent watering can partially solve this problem. First of all, you need to determine how quickly the soil dries around the plant.

If during the day the surface of the earth dries completely, you should water the hydrangea. The amount of water should be about 1 gallon, depending on the size of the bush, depending on how strong the heat should be watered every two days or even daily.

Frequent watering can cause rot of the crown or roots. As a result, the plant may die. Increasing the frequency of watering is good as a temporary measure, watering the hydrangea too often over a long period can do more harm than good.

So if you water the plant and the soil does not dry out, and the leaves continue to wither, then you should use the following methods.

Shade the plant

The extra shade is one of the best ways to deal with this problem. In deep shade, the hydrangea will not overheat, and the leaves should not wither. You need to give the plant as much shade as possible.

Anything can be suitable for shading. The simplest thing you can do is put an umbrella over the bush. As a result, the amount of sunlight will decrease, and the plant will be easier to survive the heat.

If possible, use a large outdoor (patio) umbrella. Also, some gardeners put a garden chair in front of a hydrangea, which is also a good solution.

All this works well, but if the problem does not disappear, you should arrange a more reliable shade with a garden net and frame, but we’ll talk about it below.

Transplant a hydrangea

All previous measures are temporary. After one or two years, the roots of the hydrangea should penetrate deep enough, and the leaves should not wither again.

Hydrangea drooped due to dislike of local conditions.

However, if the problem persists in the future, then you should think about transplanting. If you transplant a hydrangea in a place with ideal conditions, then all the problems with it should disappear.

In general, you should place the hydrangea in a place where it will receive 4-6 hours of direct sunlight in the morning, and in the afternoon, it will be in the shade.

Such conditions can be achieved by placing a hydrangea on the east side of the building.

Plant other plants in front

If for some reason, you can not transplant the hydrangea in a more suitable place and the leaves continue to wither, then you can plant larger plants in front.

It is better to choose tall columnar plants. It can be, for example, Arborvitae Emerald Green or something similar. The advantage of conifers is that they are quite thick and give good shade.

Place one plant in front so that it filters out the mid-day sun. Plant another plant on the west side of the hydrangea to hide it from the evening sun.

As a result, you will achieve ideal conditions for hydrangeas.

Water shortage

Another reason for the wilting of hydrangea leaves may be a lack of water. This often happens if you have quick drainage soil in the yard.

In the absence of rain, sandy soil can dry out quickly enough, and as a result, the hydrangea will suffer from thirst. In this case, it can even grow in partial shade, and the sun will not strongly affect it, but still, the leaves will wither.

Hydrangea wilting because of underwatering.

Hydrangea wilting because of underwatering.

Water more

The first and most obvious solution to this problem will be to increase watering. To check if the hydrangea needs watering, inspect the ground around the plant. If the surface is dry, insert a stick or finger into the ground. If the soil is at a depth of half an inch dry, then you should water the plant.

The amount of water can be different; it depends on the size of the plant. The minimum amount of water is 1 gallon. For larger plants, more water will be needed.

In extreme heat and in sandy soil, watering may be necessary daily.

Automatic drip irrigation

Automatic watering will be a great solution for the timely watering of hydrangeas. However, here I must warn you against using sprayers because, in this case, the water will fall on the leaves.

Frequent irrigation of hydrangea leaves with water will create suitable conditions for fungal diseases of the leaves. To avoid this, use drip irrigation.

Extend the drip hose near the hydrangea but not too close to the crown (center of the bush).

The water can be switched on by the automatic watering controller or manually. The main thing is not to let the ground dry deeper than half an inch.

Mulch can help

Mulching is a very useful practice in growing hydrangeas. Be sure to mulch your plants. This will help retain moisture in the soil for longer. Also, weeds around will grow less.

For hydrangeas, it is better to use organic mulch. Compost will perhaps be the best solution. In addition to the above benefits, the compost will also provide fertilizer for hydrangeas. Hydrangeas need a lot of fertilizer to form large inflorescences.

Use only high-quality compost that is prepared according to the correct technology. Because improperly made compost can harm your plants.

The thickness of the compost layer should be 1-2 inches. Also, between the crown (center of the plant) and mulch should be a gap of at least 1 inch.

Newly planted hydrangeas wilting

When planting or transplanting, hydrangea leaves may wither. This is especially true if you transplanted it incorrectly or did it at the wrong time.

What can be done to fix this?

As in the previous case, the best thing to do is to shade the plant as much as possible. The shade will reduce the amount of evaporating water, and the hydrangea will be easier.

The shade should remain until the plant takes root and begins to produce enough water. It can take a whole year or even longer.

To create a good shade, insert four sticks into the ground around the plant. The height of the sticks should be slightly greater than the height of the hydrangea. On top put a shading net and press its ends to the ground with stones.

Hydrangea drooping

You can read about other ways of shading above.

The second thing you can do is constantly irrigate the hydrangea. The amount of water should not be large, 0.5-1 gallon will be enough, but the frequency of watering can be high. If necessary, water twice a day. The soil around should be moist but not swampy.

What can be done to avoid withering leaves after planting?

After planting, hydrangeas get a transplant shock that can manifest as wilting leaves. Follow the rules of planting hydrangeas, and you can avoid not only wilting but also other unwanted consequences.

First of all, you need to plant or transplant a hydrangea only in the spring when the leaves have not yet appeared. At this time, the plant will be easiest to establish in a new place.

It is better to choose a cloudy day. If it rained a few days before, it is very useful if it has not rained, water the hydrangea several times.

When planting, try not to damage the roots of the plant.

If your yard has sandy soil that dries quickly, then you need to make it hold more moisture. Take 50% compost and 50% of your sandy soil and mix well.

This mixture will hold enough water, and the excess will drain.

If you have clay soil, then take 50% compost and 50% clay soil and mix it.

The planting hole should be twice the size of the roots of the plant you are planting. Fill it halfway with the prepared soil.

Put the plant in the pit. The place where the stems are connected to the roots should be slightly higher (0.5 inches) above the ground. Fill all the free space with soil and compact it.

After planting, shade the hydrangea and water moderately, but often, I wrote about this above.

Root rot as a cause of wilting

One of the symptoms of root rot may be the wilting of the leaves. This is a very serious problem, so you need to be especially careful. Let’s find out the most common causes of root rot.

Hydrangea wilting because of overwatering.

Hydrangea wilting because of overwatering.


Overwatering most often occurs with improper watering or prolonged rains, or a combination of both.

Manually overwatering a hydrangea is quite difficult; it usually happens with incorrectly configured automatic watering.

As a result, the roots do not have access to air. Short periods of flooding the roots can survive, but if it lasts for some time (one month or so), then the roots begin to rot and do not provide water to the leaves.

If your plants have suffered from a similar situation, then you need to fix it as soon as possible. Set up automatic watering correctly so that the soil is not swampy after watering.

Heavy rains

If it frequently rains in your area, divert rainwater from where hydrangeas grow. Also, arrange drainage.

It is almost impossible to cure root rot. The only thing you can do is transplant the plant to a drier place, and if the damage is not too large, there is a chance that the plant will recover.

Slowly drained soils

Heavy soil is the second most common cause of root rot. If you have this type of soil, then you should make it more drained, the water should drain faster. I have already written more about how to prepare the right soil mix above.

You should also create drainage. When planting, dig a hole three times larger than the rhizome of hydrangea. Fill one-third of the pit with expanded clay or stones. Next, plant the plant as described above.


Another cause of root rot is various pathogens, their number is quite significant, and this is not the subject of this article. All you need to know is that they usually thrive in too moist soil.

Also, the pathogen often enters the plant through damaged roots; for example, this can happen during transplanting.

Verticillium Wilt and Bacterial Wilt

Hydrangea wilting because of disease.

Hydrangea wilting because of disease.

These two diseases, although of different origins, are very dangerous and can lead to plant loss.

Their symptoms are wilted leaves on hydrangeas.

Usually, the disease enters the plant through wounds during propagation or pruning.

The infection then spreads and damages the tissues responsible for delivering water from the roots to the leaves. The leaves wither, turn yellow, and fall off. More information about yellowing leaves you can find in my new article.

It is very difficult to fight such diseases. First of all, you should use only sterile instruments when you work in the garden.

If the infection has occurred, you need to remove the affected part of the plant. Then there is a high probability that the plant will recover.

If the disease has spread too much, then you have no choice but to remove the hydrangea from the yard.

hydrangea flowers drooping

How do you revive a wilted potted hydrangea?

Potted hydrangeas are a great solution for decorating patios where it is impossible to plant them in the ground. However, there may also be problems. In fact, potted hydrangeas wither more often than in the garden.

To revive a wilted potted hydrangea, you need to move them in full shade and check the soil moisture. Suppose the soil is dry, water the hydrangea several times to soak the pot completely. Excess moisture will leak through the drainage holes.

In the future, keep the soil always moist. It will also be better if the pot is on the ground and not on the floor, so it will be better cooled.

To avoid further wilting:

  • Place the pots in partial (4 hours) or diffused sun;
  • Water regularly, soak the soil in the container completely;
  • In hardiness zones 3-4 for the winter, move potted hydrangeas indoors (garage, basement);
  • Use a soil that retains moisture well;
  • Feed the hydrangeas but do not abuse the fertilizer;