Hydrangeas: How to ‘revive’ your ‘wilted’ and ‘fallen’ plants

Hydrangeas are the star plants in most gardens. They are fairly easy to grow and their beautiful, colorful flowers have the ability to steal the show. From the all-soft hydrangea to the interesting lace, these flowers are an obvious choice for so many gardens. But what happens when they start to wilt or fall off unexpectedly?

Gardening expert and hydrangea enthusiast Jill Drago of All About Gardening has shared why your hydrangeas are drooping or wilting, and how to approach the situation to revive these beautiful flowering shrubs.

She said: “There are a number of reasons why your hydrangeas may suddenly droop or wilt. Fortunately, most of the reasons this happens are easily remedied with a small change or two in your plant care routine to keep your plants looking better than ever.” So where do you start?

incorrect watering

If you go out into the garden at noon and notice that the leaves have started to drop towards the ground, then the hydrangea could use a drink. They have large leaves that can dry out quickly when temperatures rise.

Jill explained: “The way they let us know they are thirsty is by dropping their leaves. When hydrangeas are dry, they begin to get stressed. They use what energy they have to feed the roots, not to keep the leaves and flowers looking happy and green.”

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However, this is a “very easy solution”, according to the expert. She said: “Provide a full irrigation when you notice this symptom. Hydrangeas usually reappear once they are out of the sun and have had a chance to recover. They take in about two inches of water per week, depending on where you live and what your climate is like, this amount can vary.”

When watering, gardeners should do their best to water the base of the plant. Spraying water on dry leaves will do nothing to help rehydrate the plant. Watering the leaves can also make them more susceptible to disease.

For those who have overwatered their hydrangeas, Jill advised: “Give them a break from watering if you think they may have overwatered. You should notice some improvement in a few days.”

Gardeners should also check soil conditions when their hydrangeas have been over or under watered, as these plants prefer well-draining soil.

The expert said: “If you have clay soil, it could be holding too much water around the roots. If you have sandy soil, the water may be draining too quickly. Adding compost to your soil will help solve this problem, while also giving your soil great nutrients to keep your plants happy and revive them.”

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Too much sun

Most hydrangeas like to be planted in partial sun. Jill said: “If you have planted a shade-loving hydrangea in the sun, you may notice that some have wilted. They love the morning sun for that reason, they get the sunlight they need before temperatures rise and they have the rest of the afternoon to recover in the shade.”

This wilting can be caused by a combination of dehydration and heat stress. If hydrangeas have not been watered and seem to dry out to the point of no return, gardeners may notice that both the leaves and flowers will start to look a bit crisp.

To fix this, the landscape professional suggested: “If you have a partial shade-loving cultivar, you’ll want to find an area in your garden that gets four to six hours of morning sun. This will give your plant enough sun to produce strong stems and abundant flowers.”

Gardeners will want to postpone transplanting until fall, or when the weather turns cooler.

For those who don’t have any shady spots in their garden but have a craving for hydrangeas, panicles should be tried. They love full sun and will tolerate six hours or more of sun a day.

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the flowers are heavy

Arborescens hydrangeas, also known as smooth hydrangeas, have very large flowers with stems that may be too weak to support them.

Jill explained: “Falling flowers are a common sight after heavy rain. While soft hydrangeas are symbolic of fallen branches and flowers, it can happen with other varieties as well.”

As hydrangeas have become more popular over the years, they have been hybridized to have stronger stems to support these huge blooms. But even with hybridization, large flowers can still push them down, especially as hydrangeas get bigger.

For this problem, a solution is not needed. While he was pruning his Hydrangea arborescens, which blooms on the new wood, the expert advised gardeners to leave some of the older growth in place to support the new growth with those big flowers.

on fertilization

According to Jill, if gardeners over-fertilize, it can cause leggy growth. She said: “The growth of long legs is usually weak and flexible. An overabundance of nitrogen can also cause flowers to wilt and drop.”

While the right fertilizer applied at the right times will get these shrubs to bloom, too much nitrogen can affect hydrangea flower production and, in turn, will boost vegetative growth. This can cause stems to grow longer than expected, which can weaken when heavy flowers bloom.

The expert added: “Hydrangeas should not be fertilized after August. When you feed your plants so late in the season, you risk them producing extra growth that could weaken the stems and could also put the bush at risk of winter damage. If you are applying compost to the soil, you can do it at any time of the year.”

Before you add anything to your soil, it is recommended that you do a soil test. Gardeners may not need to fertilize their bushes at all. Soil tests will give you an overview of the health of your soil, including pH and any nutrient deficiencies.

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