Hydrangeas are a beautiful addition to any garden in the summer. These plants produce pom poms made up of tiny flowers throughout zones three through to seven in the United States, which includes Baltimore, Denver, and more.
However, several issues can stunt hydrangea growth. If you’re concerned about that, read on to learn about potential reasons for your hydrangea not growing.
Hydrangeas Do Not Like Drowning or Being Thirsty
- Like most plants, hydrangeas need a good balance of sun, water, and nutrients to grow big. If any of these variables are out of balance, your hydrangea may struggle to grow.
- The amount of water that your plant has access to is one of the easiest things for you to correct.
- Hydrangeas prefer cool, moist soil with good drainage. They do not do well in dry soil or soggy soil that does not have good drainage.
- A way to tell that your hydrangea needs more water is if you see wilting leaves.
- Root rot is something to be attentive to with any plant. This issue occurs when your soil has a lot of clay or does not have proper drainage for other reasons.
- The lack of drainage causes the water to settle around the roots, causing rot. With the roots compromised, it becomes difficult for the plant to absorb all the nutrients it needs.
- Hydrangeas may indicate that they are experiencing root rot from overwatering if they shed leaves, produce yellow leaves, or do not produce flowers.
- If you are in a drought-prone area, mulch may be your hydrangea’s best friend.
- Mulch can go a long way toward helping the soil around your plant retain moisture. It can also help the soil stay cool.
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The Hydrangea May Need More Heat
- While hydrangeas have different needs depending on their variety, they do not do well when exposed to too much cold in general.
- When purchasing your hydrangeas, ensure they can be grown in your USDA zone.
- For example, if you live in Northern Minnesota in zone 3, stick to the smooth hydrangea, which does well in zones 3 through 9.
- Climbing hydrangeas and panicle hydrangeas do well in zones 4 through 8.
- If you live in warmer areas, such as Southern Florida in zone 11, you should try the bigleaf hydrangea since it is the only variety that does well beyond zone 9.
- Unfortunately, the main solution for helping a hydrangea in an inhospitable zone is to replace it with a more compatible plant.
- Before making that change, try adjusting the temperature of the environment through various means.
- For example, you can cool an area down by adding plants that produce shade or mulch.
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Unexpected Weather Changes
- Another issue that can negatively impact hydrangea growth is if winter comes early or spring comes late.
- Proper hydrangea growth requires that the plant has time in the fall to go dormant and time in the spring to create new growth.
- Overly cold temperatures in the spring can hurt new hydrangea growth. Frost before a hydrangea has a chance to go dormant in the fall can also damage the plant.
- The reason for this damage is that hydrangeas need a dormancy period to store energy for the spring.
- If that dormancy period goes on too long or comes on too suddenly, the plant’s rhythm may get disrupted, and growth will slow.
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Too Much Sun Can Fry Growth
- While proper heat is necessary for good growth, too much heat from the sun can have a damaging effect.
- Just like too much water can damage hydrangeas, so can an excessive amount of sun.
- Some varieties of hydrangeas do well in the sun, but most of these plants prefer at least some shade. If you must plant a hydrangea in full sun, opt for a panicle or quercifolia hydrangea.
- You can tell your hydrangea may have too much sun if the leaves are drooping or look scorched.
- However, scorched leaves can also be the result of a nitrogen deficiency. Read on to learn about nutrient deficiencies in hydrangeas.
- There are a few ways that you can combat an excess of sun. You can always plant trees to create a shadier environment.
- However, if you already have a shady environment, move the hydrangea over there. Of course, ensure that any new spot also fulfills the hydrangea’s other needs.
Non-strategic Pruning Can Hurt the Hydrangea
- Pruning is a vital step when caring for many plants, including the hydrangea.
- This step helps the plant use its energy efficiently, remove dead wood, encourage healthy growth, and shape the hydrangea in an aesthetically pleasing way.
- Before grabbing your shears, you should know there is a right and a wrong way to prune hydrangeas. Different varieties do best with different pruning amounts and timing.
- Prune Smooth and Panicle hydrangeas in the late winter. This group of hydrangeas blooms from new growth each year.
- Pruning plants that bloom from new growth is vital if you want to keep your hydrangeas under control.
- Cut Smooth hydrangeas down to a foot and prune a third of the Panicle hydrangea down.
- Prune Bigleaf, Climbing, Oakleaf, and Mountain hydrangeas in the summer after they flower. These varieties all bloom on old growth from previous years.
- Pruning these varieties is often less intense than the varieties that bloom from new growth. Cut the stalks at the base of each branch after flowering.
- During those key times, you can prune the living branches. However, you can prune dead wood at other times during the year.
- If you prune at the wrong time, you can limit the hydrangea’s growth.
- For example, pruning Bigleaf hydrangeas before they flower can kill the buds and reduce the ability of the hydrangea to grow.
- So, you must know when your hydrangea wants to be pruned. If you are new to pruning, always start conservatively rather than over-pruning.
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Hydrangeas Need Nutrients to Grow Big and Strong
- Hydrangeas do best when they have access to plenty of good nutrients in the soil. They need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
- They do well with a balanced fertilizer, or one with extra phosphorus if you want bigger blooms.
- The most common way to provide your hydrangeas is with fertilizer. There are several ways you can fertilize your plants. Fertilizer comes in liquid, granules, and spike form.
- Each of these options is effective. However, you may find one that suits your needs better than the others.
- Well-timed fertilization is also essential to making sure your plants get nutrition when they need it. Give your hydrangeas fertilizer in mid-spring.
- Depending on the type of fertilizer you use, the package may suggest specific instructions. In general, you can expect to fertilize hydrangeas every three months.
- There are a few ways to tell that your hydrangeas are short on a nutrient. Since nitrogen helps plants grow foliage, your nitrogen-deficient plant may display scorched-looking foliage.
- Phosphorus helps plants produce blooms, so you should give your hydrangea phosphorus if they are short on blooms.
Set Your Hydrangeas up for Success
- Many problems on this list, such as excessive sun, can result from a bad planting location.
- Beyond the sun, there are many other conditions that you should look out for when planting your hydrangeas.
- An important part of planting a hydrangea is when you plant it. Aim for late spring or early fall, when the temperature is fairly temperate.
- If you plant it too early in the season, the plant may suffer. Too much heat or cold can make it difficult for a plant to get established.
- Hydrangeas also need plenty of water as they get established. So, keep the hydrangeas moist without overwatering for the first year of their life.
- When planting your hydrangea, make sure that you break up its roots when planting.
- If you do not ensure the roots have plenty of room, the root ball can become root bound. As a result, the plant can struggle to absorb nutrients.
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Make Sure You Know Your Hydrangea Type
- As described above, there are several types of hydrangeas out there. They come in many shapes and sizes.
- While hydrangeas have some general needs in common, certain types may need different pruning needs or do best in certain zones.
- When you buy your hydrangea, there should be information on which variety you have. However, some of this information can be less than accurate.
- So, it is always a good idea to research your plant, confirm its identity, and understand its needs.
- Misunderstanding the needs of a plant is a very common way to damage growth.
- If nothing you are doing works to help your plant, you may find that the plant does not work in the first place.
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When you see your hydrangeas struggling to grow, you may think rejuvenating them will be difficult. However, if you can determine the cause of the lack of growth, you can very likely improve the health and look of your plants.
After diagnosing your plants, make a plan to help them thrive. That’s the key to assuring your hydrangea will recover.
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.