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Hydrangea Leaves Turning Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, Purple & White

Do you know Hydrangea owns glossy, deep leaves that grow 8 inches upward? However, these leaves happen turning red and other unusual colors in some conditions.  

Generally, the reasons behind Hydrangea leaves turning red, black, brown, yellow, purple, and white with spots include improper watering, incorrect temperature, sunlight issues, nutrition imbalances, bad soil, drainage, pests, pathogens, and many more.

Hydrangea bears flowers with vibrant colors, making your summer garden stunning. But when its leaves start changing color, the stress may hinder flowering too.

So, read this entire article to know the reasons behind the foliage problems in your Hydrangea with failproof treatment and preventive measures.

Why Is My Hydrangea Leaves Turning Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, Purple, and White?

One of the common causes behind the leaf problems in Hydrangea is fertilizing and watering it during dormancy.

The plant may change the leaves’ color and gradually start drooping, wilting, and dying in severe cases.

1. Improper Watering

Improper watering is the root cause of many problems with Hydrangea leaves that invite pathogens and root diseases.

Underwatering may cause the yellowing of leaves followed by crispy brown edges. Meanwhile, overwatering may cause soggy soil, encouraging pathogenic diseases and root problems.

Hydrangea plant with brown leaves turning brown
Underwatering may cause leaves to turn brown and crispy due to dehydration.

Root rot damages the Hydrangea plant luring pathogens, causing leaf discoloration like white, red, black, brown, and purple.

Moreover, bad water quality can also cause several leaf spots in Hydrangea if you use tap water.

Treatment And Preventive Measures

  • Water your Hydrangea only when the top 2 inches of the soil feels dry.
  • Make a habit of watering thrice a week during summer and once a week during winter.
  • Use a Moisture meter for proper watering.
  • Bottom watering will help if the soil is extremely dry.
  • Only use filtered or distilled water to hydrate your Hydrangea.

2. Incorrect Temperature

Considerably high or very low temperature harms your Hydrangea, causing several other problems besides leaf spots.

Excessive temperature may cause stress to your Hydrangea, dehydrate the soil, and damage the plant’s foliage.

Plant stress may cause Hydrangea leaves turning red or purple, whereas dehydration and burnt foliage may cause black or brown coloration.

Furthermore, too low temperature will cause frost damage causing foliage to turn yellow or black.

hydrangea growing outside
Young Hydrangea leaves are red.

For the healthy green foliage of your Hydrangea, you must maintain a temperature of 50-65°F.

Treatments And Preventive Measures

  • Relocate your Hydrangea away from North facing window during the cold.
  • Place the plant in a shaded location during a very hot summer.
  • Mulching around the plant’s base will help during the hottest and coldest days.
  • Use frost blankets to protect your Hydrangea from excessive cold.
  • Place your Hydrangea away from heaters, vents, cold drafts, etc.

3. Sunlight Issues

Although light is vital for the growth and flowering of Hydrangea, excessive light can be a problem for the plant.

Very high or very low light will cause your Hydrangea leaves turning yellow with gradual drooping and wilting. High sun radiation may also cause purple coloration in Hydrangea leaves.

Moreover, Hydrangea cannot function properly in improper light conditions resulting in stunted growth in the plant.

Basically, Hydrangea prefers 4-8 hours of light daily. Too low light will result in low or no flowering.

Treatment And Preventive Measures

  • Shift your Hydrangea to a sunny area and an east-facing window.
  • Use sheer curtains to provide dappled light if it’s receiving excessive light.
  • Provide artificial light for 14-16 hours if natural light isn’t available.
  • UV protection shield will work best to protect the plant from high radiation.

4. Fertilizer Imbalances

If your Hydrangea faces stunted growth and other leaf-related problems, you’re probably feeding it wrong.

Lack of nitrogen causes yellowing, phosphorous causes browning, and potassium causes the yellowing in the veins of your Hydrangea leaves.

Several other symptoms like leaf fall, drooping, leaf spots, wilting, etc., will also occur on your Hydrangea during lack of nutrition.

Moreover, if you apply excessive fertilizer, foliage burn may occur, turning the leaves black. Also, plants will die in severe cases.

Moreover, overfertilization may cause salt stress leading to reverse osmosis in your plant.

Feed your Hydrangea with balanced liquid fertilizers once a month only during the growing season.

Treatment And Preventive Measures

  • Only apply fertilizer at the base of your Hydrangea, not on the foliage.
  • Hydrate your Hydrangea properly before feeding it.
  • Amend the soil with homemade compost if you want a chemical-free option.
  • If your Hydrangea is potted, tug it out, flush the roots, and repot the plant in case of excessive fertilization.
  • If the damage is severe, you must repot the plant in new potting soil.

6. Bad Soil And Drainage

Even if you take care of every optimal condition or if it’s growing in bad soil, your Hydrangea will not thrive properly.

Soil with no drainage makes it soggy, causing root problems that directly affect the leaf color.

Moreover, inappropriate or compact soil will deprive the plant of nutrients, resulting in leaf curl and no growth.

As a result, your Hydrangea foliage may start turning brown and gradually turn black due to poor air circulation. 

Your Hydrangea will thrive best in well-draining, loamy soil with pH 5-8 having proper air circulation.

Treatments And Preventive Measures

  • Add perlite or sand to make well-draining soil if it’s too heavy.
  • Plant your Hydrangea on a Terracotta pot with enough draining holes.
  • Garden lime will balance the pH and promote foliage growth.
  • Use vermicompost to make the soil light and porous.

7. Pests And Pathogens

No matter where you live, pests and pathogens can invade your Hydrangea and cause various plant problems.

Hydrangea leaves are susceptible to different fungal pathogens like powdery mildew, blights, rusts, wilting, and many more.

The pests like spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects further spread these diseases from plant to plant.

Pathogens may be the major reason behind your Hydrangea leaves turning red, black, brown, or yellow. Also, pests may leave nasty spots on leaves.

Also, diseases like powdery mildew can cause white spots on your Hydrangea plant.

Treatments And Preventive Measures

  • Isolate the plant with pathogenic infection to prevent spreading.
  • Prune the affected parts immediately and dispose in the proper places.
  • Sterilize the pruner before and after pruning the diseased plant.
  • Discard the heavily infected plant to lower the risk of spreading pathogens.
  • Use pesticides and fungicides to stop further infestation.
  • Apply neem oil to your Hydrangea if you want the chemical-free option.
  • The biological control method will also work best to eliminate unwanted pests.

Is It Too Late To Save Discolored Hydrangea Leaves?

The cure for Hydrangea leaf color discoloration depends upon the underlying causes behind the problem.

If the leaf discoloration is in the starting phase due to environmental stress and wrong plant handling, you can certainly revive it.

Moreover, due to poor nutrition, Hydrangea leaves turning yellow, purple, or brown will turn on their actual color after you feed them properly.

Furthermore, leaves turning black due to transplant shock will also cure after it establishes itself in a new environment.

Hydrangea with purple leaves
You can cure Hydrangea leaves by changing their color due to nutritional imbalance.

However, the leaves changing color due to fertilizer damage, improper soil, and pathogenic diseases won’t revive at any cost.

Instead, the spots will damage the whole plant and spread to other plants destroying your entire garden.

Thus, you don’t have any other options than discarding the damaged parts to stop the pathogen spread.

From Editorial Team

Colored Leaves In Some Hydrangea Plants Is Normal!

If you have Oak leaf Hydrangea with red or purple leaves, you need not panic as the color change is natural.

During fall, this Hydrangea variety changes color and is the only variety to bear reddish-purple leaves.