How to Save a Dying Hydrangea [Easy Tips]

Hydrangeas are a popular choice for gardeners all over the United States. With the right conditions and care, they’re easy to grow and make a stunning addition to any garden.

But what if your once-thriving plant has become wilted and lifeless? In this case, you’re probably wondering how to save a dying hydrangea.

We’ll explain everything you need to know in today’s article. Keep reading to learn more.

1 Gallon Fire Light Tidbit Panicle Hydrangea (Paniculata) Live Plant, White, Pink, and Red Flowers

Why Is My Hydrangea Wilting?

Although hydrangeas are hardy plants, they require specific conditions to thrive. And because they can be rather finicky, your plant may be wilting for any number of possible reasons.

The most common hydrangea woes include the following:

  • Root rot
  • Stress from drought
  • Too much sun exposure
  • Replanting
  • Frost damage
  • Too much fertilizer
  • Wrong size pots

Saving a dying hydrangea requires you to identify which of these woes is the culprit. And a word to the wise: you’ll need to take quick action if you want to save your plant.

The good news? A little TLC is typically all you need to restore your hydrangea to its former splendor.

Also read: Are Coffee Grounds Good for Lemongrass?

How to Save a Dying Hydrangea

So what are these issues, and how can you fix them? In this section, we’ll take an in-depth look at each one.

Root Rot

  • When it comes to watering your plants, it’s best to proceed with caution. In particular, overwatering your hydrangea can lead to a condition called root rot.
  • It’s as unsightly as it sounds. Your plant starts wilting, gets yellow yellows, and some leaves even turn brown.
  • You’ll notice that its roots are brown and mushy, and the stem right above the soil is also browning.
  • Root rot occurs for several reasons, but the most common are overwatering and poor drainage. When you overwater your hydrangea, the roots are unable to dry completely.
  • Fungal spores may flourish in these wet conditions, ultimately leading to rot.
  • Poor drainage essentially causes the same thing to happen. Even if you’re watering the correct amount, the water needs to drain properly.
  • When it doesn’t, it sits in the pot and causes the damp soil that eventually ends in root rot. 
  • So how can you address this issue? The best course of action is to move your plant to another pot. But simply switching pots is not enough.

You’ll need to keep the following tips in mind to eliminate root rot:

  • When you remove the hydrangea, prune any brown, mushy roots. This step is essential because the brown mushy roots are infected with rot.
  • Before replanting, thoroughly rinse the root ball of the plant.

Fungal spores may be hanging out there as well, and you don’t want to transfer them to the hydrangea’s new home.

  • It’s critical to use new soil when repotting. Otherwise – you guessed it! – you may inadvertently rehouse spores in the new pot.
  • Once your hydrangea is settled, its first watering should include an anti-fungal treatment to ensure that it stays healthy.

4.5 in. Qt. Limelight 'Prime' Hydrangea, Live Plant, Green and Pink Flowers

Check out: Why Is My Lemongrass Turning Purple? [Reasons & How to Fix]

Stress from Drought

  • Just like too much water can wreak havoc on your hydrangea, so can too little. Hydrangea roots require a steady source of moisture to keep their leaves from wilting.
  • When they get too dry, they suffer from drought – otherwise known as drooping. And there’s a good reason for the “drooping” name.
  • Hydrangeas suffering from this condition do indeed look droopy or wilting. 
  • Drought happens for various reasons. In most cases, gardener error is to blame. You’re merely not watering your plant enough.
  • However, it may be that the hydrangea isn’t receiving enough rainfall or the soil is draining too quickly. Summer weather can also be tricky for hydrangeas, as hot conditions dry them out.
  • It’s typical for hydrangeas to lose some luster in summer.

Here are some tips to bring your droopy hydrangea back to life.

  • Water, water, water. The first and most obvious step is to up your hydrangea’s water intake.

Make sure it receives a healthy soaking, especially if it’s competing with other plants. 

  • Assess drainage conditions. If the soil is stony or sandy, it may be draining too quickly.

You may want to temporarily rehome your hydrangea, adding plenty of organic matter to the soil for maximum water retention. 

  • Apply mulch to your plant. Mulch can make all the difference in your hydrangea’s health.

Aim for a one-inch layer, which will help restore nutrients to the soil, improve its structure, and conserve water.

  • Use less fertilizer. Does your hydrangea have plenty of greenery but not many flowers?

If so, consider using less fertilizer. Hydrangeas don’t typically need additional feeding, and too much nitrogen fertilizer can cause droopiness.

Try soaking the soil with water to dissolve some fertilizer, keeping in mind that your hydrangea might not be back to fighting form until the following season.

Also check: Why Is My Lemongrass Plant Dying? [11 Reasons & How to Prevent]

Too Much Sun Exposure

  • Some plants thrive in full sunlight, but hydrangeas shouldn’t be left to scorch in the sun all day.
  • In their natural environment, they do best under tree canopies, which prevent direct sunlight from drying out their soil.
  • If you want to have a happy hydrangea, it’s critical to mimic these conditions in your home garden. 
  • So how do you know if your hydrangea is “sunburned”? Your plant will have dry, yellow leaves that look wilted no matter how much you water them.
  • It’s pretty easy to diagnose too much sun exposure, as your plant is likely somewhere with little to no shade.
  • You can also examine the leaves. Leaves receiving direct sunlight look damaged, while more shaded leaves are green. 
  • If your hydrangea is sunburnt, you’ll need to fix the balance of sun and shade. Some sun is good for hydrangeas, but too much direct sunlight will kill them.
  • You have two options to remedy the problem:
  1. Transplant your hydrangea to a shadier spot
  2. Create makeshift shade using other plants or garden features

Whichever of these methods you use, be sure to prune the shoots on highly affected leaves.

  • This step is essential for promoting new growth. Keep in mind that any yellow leaves are unlikely to make a full recovery.
  • The good news is that when caught in time, your hydrangea should soon be restored to full health.

4.5 in. Qt. Limelight 'Prime' Hydrangea, Live Plant, Green and Pink Flowers

Also check: Why Is My Hydrangea Not Growing? [8 Reasons & How to Care]

Planting and Replanting

  • Have you ever heard of transplant shock? Transplant shock happens when a hydrangea’s growing conditions change suddenly.
  • Their roots don’t pull moisture as they normally would, resulting in droopy, brown leaves.
  • The two instances where you have to watch out for it are when you first plant your hydrangea or if you have to replant it.
  • Hydrangeas need time to adjust to new conditions, and it takes a while for their roots to adapt to a different soil.
  • Once they’ve established themselves in a location, they tend to do well, but their first season is when hydrangeas are most vulnerable.
  • Transplant is especially likely when going from the carefully controlled conditions of a nursery greenhouse to your outdoor garden.  

Here are some tips to prevent and treat transplant shock:

  • Prepare ahead of time. Summer is the worst time to plant a new hydrangea, as temperatures may be too high to allow the roots to get enough moisture.

Instead, plan your hydrangea purchases for the spring or fall.

  • Create shade. If you have to replant in the summer, it can be helpful to create shade while the hydrangea establishes. Other plants or even an umbrella work well.
  • Add mulch. Adding a one-inch layer of mulch helps trap moisture.
  • Give your hydrangea TLC. Pay a little extra attention to your hydrangea while it gets used to its new home.

Make sure it receives enough water, it’s not getting too much sunlight, and add plenty of compost to the soil.

Read: Why Is My Lemongrass Turning Red? [How to Save]

Frost Damage

  • Do you have a hydrangea that’s turning black or brown? These colors indicate that your plant has suffered frost damage, especially if they appear suddenly.
  • Spring is typically when frost damage occurs, though it can also happen in fall. Surprisingly, winter is when you’re least likely to notice it.
  • Hydrangeas tolerate freezing weather if they’ve been given time to harden off before winter. The problem is budding hydrangeas, which are extremely sensitive to cold weather.
  • For this reason,if you live in a northern region such as New York or Washington, a late spring frost can be lethal. The cold weather kills the plant’s outer leaves and stops flowering. However, it usually takes more than frost to cause damage.
  • The right amount of cold wind also contributes to the problem. To help nourish your frost-bitten plant, prune any frost-damaged leaves.

It may take time to see improvement, but it should be fine.

And remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure. Make sure to mimic the conditions hydrangeas are found in the wild by following these tips:

  • Wild hydrangeas are usually found under a canopy of trees. To keep them safe from frostbite, plant them in sheltered areas like near a fence or close to a tree.
  • If you have hydrangeas in an exposed part of your yard, transplant them somewhere more sheltered.

1 Gallon Quick Fire Fab Panicle Hydrangea (Paniculata) Live Plant, White, Pink, and Red Flowers

Check: Why Is My Lemongrass Leaves Turning Yellow?

Too Much Fertilizer

  • If your hydrangea leaves are brown and droopy, the culprit may be too much fertilizer. Some plants require lots of fertilizer to thrive, but hydrangeas aren’t one of them.
  • Too much of a good thing can have the opposite effect and burn the hydrangea’s roots instead. You end up with weak foliage that can’t support its own weight, hence the droopiness.
  • If you’ve been overdoing it, it’s time to scale back fertilizer use. You’ll also want to prune any unhealthy-looking leaves, which are more prone to frost and pest damage. 
  • The next thing you should do is generously soak the soil. Adding plenty of water should help dissolve any excess salt the fertilizer has left behind.
  • Water the plant every few days to keep the soil moist and promote recovery. 
  • It’s worth mentioning that your hydrangea may have received fertilizer inadvertently. If your area has recently gotten lots of rain, your lawn fertilizer may have become diluted.
  • When lawn fertilizer gets diluted, it can run away from your lawn and into your hydrangea plants. 

Have a look: Philodendron Selloum Soil Mix

Wrong Size Pots

  • Finally, something as simple as a too-small pot may be to blame for your hydrangea woes. If yours lacks the space it needs, it will dry out quickly and cause drought.  
  • But just how much space do potted hydrangeas need? A good rule of thumb is to look for something that’s at least sixteen inches in diameter.
  • Otherwise, the pot will heat up in the sun too quickly. You won’t have enough room for soil either, creating less-than-ideal moisture conditions. 
  • As mentioned in previous sections, the best season to transplant your hydrangea is in the spring or fall.
  • Temperatures are cooler during these times, making shock and drought less likely. Here are some tips for successfully transplanting your hydrangea:
    • Ensure the soil in the new pot is moist and keep your plant out of direct sunlight for several weeks.
    • The pot should also have adequate drainage. Otherwise, you risk water pooling in the bottom and problems with root rot.
    • Pay attention to the soil type, as soil type also affects drainage. Sandy soils drain too quickly, making it harder for the hydrangea to get the nutrients it needs.

On the other hand, some clay soils make draining difficult.

Read: How to Grow Lemongrass From Stalk

Tips for Thriving Hydrangeas

Finally, here are a couple of ways to keep your hydrangeas thriving:

  • When it comes to fertilizer, less is more. Hungry hydrangeas produce much better blooms, so avoid overfertilizing yours for the best results.

A little bit in the spring and fall is usually plenty.

  • Check for insects on the leaves. Things like caterpillars, beetles, and mites like to hang out on – and damage – hydrangeas.

If you notice any, spray an insecticide formulated for that particular intruder. Repeat until the insects have gone.

How to Save a Dying Hydrangea
How to Save a Dying Hydrangea

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Final Thoughts

Hydrangeas are resistant plants but require specific conditions to look their best.

Things like too much sun exposure, too little water, frost damage, and transplant shock can all be highly detrimental to hydrangeas.

Solving these problems is usually straightforward, but you must act quickly.