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6 Reasons for Hydrangea Leaves Turning Yellow [With Solutions]

Is your Hydrangea slowly blemishing its beauty because of the yellow leaves?

Usually, the issue of Hydrangea leaves turning yellow is due to foreswearing care checks.

Generally, reasons for Hydrangea leaves turning yellow are improper watering routine, temperature, and sunlight, nutrient deficiencies, pest, and diseases. Fix the yellow leaves by adjusting watering and lighting routines, timely feeding, and monitoring for pests and diseases.

Let’s see some reasons and sort out the ways to tend the yellow leaves of Hydrangeas from the article.

Is It Normal for Hydrangea Leaves to Turn Yellow?

Hydrangea can produce yellow leaves due to its deciduous habit, meaning it loses all its leaves during fall and remains bare throughout winter.

Before falling, Hydrangea leaves turn yellow, brown, or even purplish. So, it’s natural for Hydrangea to have pale leaves because of the phenological cycle.
Image represents bottom yellow leaves of Hydrangea plant
Sometimes the bottom leaves of Hydrangea turn yellow due to old age.

Besides, some Hydrangea varieties possess yellow leaves or leaves of similar shades naturally. 

Hydrangea VarietiesLeaf Color
Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea)Yellowish Green
Hydrangea macrophylla (Big leaf Hydrangea)Golden Yellow
Hydrangea petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangea)

Hydrangea aspera (Rough leaved Hydrangea)

Hydrangea paniculata (Limelight Hydrangea)
Dark Green

It is noteworthy if the Hydrangea’s leaves turn yellow in spring or summer, which is not the natural time it should be doing so.

However, a Hydrangea with yellow leaves at the bottom represents an aging plant.

If the Hydrangea plants suffer yellow leaves for reasons other than natural causes, you must seek the causes and immediate solutions.

Why Are My Hydrangea Leaves Turning Yellow? [Reasons & Fixes]

The common term for Hydrangea leaves turning yellow is Chlorosis.

The natural discoloration indicates that the Hydrangea has been receiving poor care. 

Image illustrates brief care tips for Hydrangea plant
Hydrangea is a tropical plant, but many species grow in temperate regions, so decide their care requirements accordingly.

1. Improper Watering

Under and overwatering is the most common cause of Hydrangea leaves turning yellow.

Hydrangeas need water thrice a week during spring and summer. Keep the plant well-watered in fall until the ground freezes in winter.

Hydrangea leaves turning yellow with brown spots and becoming crispy over time around the margins and tip indicates that the plant is underwatered.

However, overwatering creates a wet soil condition, smothering and decaying the roots and depriving the plant of oxygen.

Image represents dried leaves of Hydrangea plant
When Hydrangea plants are dehydrated, the leaf margins and tips become brown and brittle.

So, if Hydrangea leaves turn yellow and falls off later, it’s usually due to overwatering, as the plant cannot uptake water and sheds the leaves to cut off transpiration.

Following this, Hydrangea leaves start to droop and wilt

Since both conditions can develop yellow leaves, you should spot the difference between the overwatered and underwatered plant.

If the leaves are yellowing and browning, with a pulpy or mushy texture, your Hydrangea is overwatered.

But, if the leaves are dry, crisp, and twisted with yellowing at the tips and edges, your Hydrangea is dehydrated.

How to Fix?

  • Stop watering your overwatered Hydrangea and keep it under the sun until the soil dries up.
  • Move the potted plant to a shaded area and drain the excess water.
  • Unpot the plant, inspect for rotten roots, and snip away any dead or mushy root tissues with sterilized pruners.
  • Trim the yellow or brown leaves from the plant to secure its vigor.
  • If the soil gives off a foul smell, switch to fresh soil with added organic perlite to improve drainage.
  • Check the soil for dryness by taking a finger dip test.
  • Increase the watering timetable from weekly to biweekly up to its revival.
  • Plant your garden Hydrangea away from trees to lower the competition for water between the plants.

2. Incorrect Light

Hydrangeas are heliophiles, meaning they love the sun but also prefer a few hours of partial shade.

Generally, Hydrangea tolerates up to 4-8 hours of direct morning and partial sunlight for the rest of the day.

Direct sunlight can scorch Hydrangea leaves, turning them yellow, followed by leaf wilts, brown spots, and crispiness around the edges and tips.

Image represents leaf burns in Hydrangea plant
Direct sunlight affects the tips and margins of the Hydrangea leaves.

Likewise, insufficient light can harm the plant, with leaf yellowing and browning of foliage and leaves falling off. 

However, you can rescue the plant from yellow leaves by offering it the correct light and placement.

How to Fix?

  • If your plant gets yellow leaves, move it to a dark location.
  • Place Hydrangea plants indoors near an east-facing window.
  • Dapple the plant with curtains or UV protection sheets to block direct heat.
  • Situate the plant 3-5 feet away from a south or west-facing window to avoid direct sunlight during summer.
  • Keep a shade above the plant if it gets direct sunlight in the afternoon, and water frequently to retain leaf moisture.
  • Place Hydrangeas under fluorescent lights, but since the grow lights are less intense than sunlight, increase the lighting period to 12 hours daily.
  • Maintain a 6-12 inches distance between the plant and artificial lights to prevent leaf burns. 

3. Nutrient Mismatch

Yellowing of Hydrangea leaves, except for the leaf veins, may indicate that the plant is iron deficient or suffering from other mineral deficiencies.

Generally, slow-release bloom boosters or balanced liquid feed do wonders for Hydrangeas during early spring, late spring, and early or mid-summer.

Iron is an important catalyst for the formation of chlorophyll, giving the leaves their green color.

But iron doesn’t work alone. Nitrogen and magnesium also contribute to keeping the leaves green.

A deficiency of all 3 nutrients can lead to the yellowing of Hydrangea leaves.

Additionally, young Hydrangea leaves turning yellow means the plant suffers from iron deficiency.

However, old yellow leaves indicate that the plant lacks nitrogen and magnesium.

Also, Hydrangea leaves get brown tips and margins due to fertilizer burn caused by excessive fertilizer application.

How to Fix?

  • Supplement the plant with iron-rich fertilizers, such as bone meal, compost, or iron chelates.
  • Use Epsom salts to provide the plant with the adequate magnesium it needs.
  • Potassium hinders magnesium uptake, so employ fertilizers with less potassium.
  • Leach out the excess salts by flushing the soil 4-5 times with distilled water.

4. Temperature Stress

A temperature drop, boosted by cold drafts, can accelerate the yellowing and dropping of Hydrangea leaves.

Maintain a surrounding temperature of around 50-65°F and prevent temperature drops below 50°F.

Hence, Hydrangea leaves turning yellow and dropping may indicate low-temperature stress to the plant.

Remember, Hydrangeas are only frost tolerant in fall and winter as they go dormant, and temperature alterations can cause yellowing leaves and brown spots.

If it gets too warm, the edges of the leaves become yellow, turn brown and develop a crispy texture.

How to Fix?

  • Relocate your potted Hydrangeas away from drafty north-facing windows in the winter.
  • Cover garden Hydrangeas with frost blankets in winter to save them from nightly cold drafts.
  • Move your potted plants away from radiators or cooling vents.
  • Mulch the plant during fall, ensuring heat insulation for winter.

5. Soil Issues

Soggy and dry soil, improper pH, nutrient deficiency, etc., are all causes of yellow leaves originating from the soil.

Hydrangea needs acidic to alkaline (pH 5-8) loamy soil to grow, remain green, and have consistent blooms. If the plant is inclined to the alkaline substrate, leaves turn yellow.

Heavy soil can easily block the oxygen supply to the roots and sever the connection with the upper parts of the plant (leaves).

Image represents color change in Hydrangea leaves
Hydrangea leaves change their color if they find minor inconveniences in the soil composition.

This issue can cause the Hydrangea leaves to turn yellow, suffer from leaf drops, and render a droopy plant in sync with overwatering.

Additionally, alkaline soils make Hydrangeas suffer manganese deficiencies, making the leaves pale and lack chlorophyll.

If you use healthy and well-textured soil and keep a constant soil pH range, yellow leaves are solvable.

How to Fix?

  • Add draining elements like perlite or sand to boost soil percolation.
  • Balance the pH by adding garden lime to the soil for good foliage growth.
  • Unclog the bottom drainage holes from the planters if it’s jammed with debris.
  • Add horticultural charcoal and vermicompost to the soil to make it organically rich.
  • Remove the stagnant water from the pot tray after each watering session.
  • Put a pebble layer at the pot’s bottom during planting or after repotting.

6. Pests & Diseases

Hydrangea leaves are prone to many disease-causing fungal, bacterial, or viral spores and pests.

Some sap-sucking pests include spider mites, soil nematodes, and aphids, while leaf spots, gray rot, anthracnose, Hydrangea Mosaic Virus, Tomato Ringspot Virus, and root rots are the pathogenic culprits.`

Pests slurp away all the essential juices from the leaf petiole and surface, leaving behind blotched yellow patches on the leaves.

Image represents leaf spot disease in Hydrangea plant
Some major pathogens that can attack Hydrangea leaves are bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

But, yellow leaves in Hydrangeas are the first signs of disease infestation, often followed by black spots, browning, drops, and wilting.

How to Fix?

  • Isolate the diseased or pest-infested plant from the healthy plants to prevent disease spread.
  • If it is a garden plant, remove all the infected leaves using sterilized tools and clean up all the debris.
  • Use copper-based chemicals to kill the pathogenic spores.
  • Apply neem oil to discard pest eggs, larvae, and other bacterial diseases.
  • Apply pest or disease-deterring chemicals on the leaves every 10-14 days until the symptoms suppress. 

Should I Cut Off Hydrangea Yellow Leaves?

If the yellow leaves are attached to Hydrangea stems, there is no better option except pruning.

Infested leaves host pests and spread diseases. Additionally, these leaves pull a lot of energy from the plant.

So, cutting off helps Hydrangea shade unnecessary weight and coverage, permitting the growth of new leaves.

The best time to prune Hydrangeas is spring when the plant is ready to sprout foliage for the next season.

  • Inspect for spent or diseased leaves and cut the base of a stalk that joins the leaves and stem. 
Hydrangea stem cuttings
If you accidently Hydrangea stems, use it as propagating cuttings.
  • Avoid cutting healthy or green leaves, and do not remove more than 25% of the plant’s foliage.
  • Collect the discarded leaves to burn or compost them.

FAQs About Hydrangea Leaves

Why are my Hydrangea leaves turning red?

The main reason behind the red leaves in Hydrangea is poor soil or environmental conditions.

Why are my Hydrangea leaves turning white? 

If Hydrangea leaves have a white powdery substance on them, it implies Powdery Mildew infection.

From Editorial Team

Repotting and Humidity Checks!

Set the humidity around 40-45% to prevent yellow leaves, leaf curls, slow-flowering, and blooms.

Also, repot the plant annually in spring or every 2 years if the growth rate is slow.

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