How to revive ‘wilted and drooping’ hydrangeas
All About Gardening expert and hydrangea enthusiast Jill Drago spoke about drooping or wilting hydrangeas and how best to revive them.
She said: “There are a number of reasons why your hydrangeas may very suddenly droop or wilt.” These include incorrect watering, too much sun, heavy flowers or over fertilising. But “thankfully, with a small change or two to your plant care routine so that they’ll look better than ever”.
If the leaves are drooping towards the ground, the hydrangea could use a drink.
The popular plant has large leaves that can dry out quickly when the temperature rises. Jill explained: “The way that they communicate to us that they are thirsty is by drooping their leaves.
“When hydrangeas are dry they begin to stress out. They use what energy they have to feed the roots, and not on keeping the leaves and flowers looking perky and green.”
However, there is a “very easy fix”, according to the expert. She revealed: “Provide a thorough watering when you notice this symptom. Typically hydrangeas will pop back once they are out of the sun and have had a chance to recover. They take about two inches of water per week, depending on where you live and what your weather is like this amount can differ.”
When watering, gardeners should aim for the base of the plant – spraying leaves will not rehydrate the plant, instead, it makes the plant more susceptible to diseases.
Gardeners with overwatered hydrangeas should “give them a break from watering” and within a few days “you should notice some improvement”.
Soil conditions can also impact how the plant receives water – hydrangeas prefer well-draining soil.
Jill said: “If you have clay soil, it could be holding too much water around the roots. If you have sandy soil the water could be draining too quickly. Adding compost to your soil will help aid in this issue, while also giving your soil excellent nutrients to keep your plants happy and revive them.”
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 this very reason, they get the sunlight they require before the temperatures rise and have the rest of the afternoon to recover in the shade.”
Wilting can be caused by a combination of dehydration and heat stress. If hydrangeas have not been watered and appear to be drying out, gardeners may notice leaves and flowers will start to look crispy.
To fix this, Jill suggested: “If you have a partial shade loving cultivar you will want to find an area in your garden that receives four to six hours of morning sun. This will give your plant enough sun to produce strong stems and bountiful flowers.”
When it comes to moving the hydrangea to a better-suited spot, gardeners should hold off until autumn, or when the weather gets cooler.
Hydrangea arborescens, also known as smooth hydrangeas, have very large flowers with stems that may be too weak to hold them up.
Jill said “drooping flowers are common sights after heavy rainfalls”, but it’s not just the smooth hydrangea variety that suffers from dropping flowers and branches, “it can happen with other varieties as well”.
As hydrangea’s popularity has increased, the plant has been hybridised to have stronger stems to support these massive flowers. But even with hybridisation, big blooms can still pull them downwards, especially as hydrangeas get bigger.
For this issue, there’s no fix needed. While pruning your Hydrangea arborescens, which bloom on new wood, the expert advised gardeners to just leave some of the older growth in place to support the new growth with those large flowers.
If gardeners feed hydrangeas too much, they can grow leggy. Jill added: “Leggy growth is typically weak and flexible. An overabundance of nitrogen can cause flowers to wilt and droop as well.”
The right fertiliser applied at appropriate times can make hydrangeas flourish, but too much nitrogen can take away from the flower production of the hydrangea and in turn, will push vegetative growth.
Jill said “hydrangeas should not be fertilised after August”, otherwise, feeding plants “that late in the season” runs the risk of them “pushing extra growth that could weaken the stems, and also could put the shrub at risk for winter damage”.
Compost, however, can be applied to the soil “at any time in the year”. But before adding to the soil, it’s recommended you do a soil test. Soil tests give an overview of the health of the soil including the pH and any nutrient deficiencies, and some soils may not need fertilising.
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