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Why is my Hydrangea Wilting?

Although Hydrangeas are not particularly vulnerable to diseases, they are pretty sensitive to extreme growing conditions.

If your beloved Hydrangea is wilting and getting weaker in the growing season, you should know that it is under tremendous stress.

Hydrangeas may wilt from moisture stress when exposed to full sun for long hours. Similarly, a dehydrated plant from inadequate watering, temperature fluctuation, and insufficient lighting will also wilt.

Wilted Hydrangea Blossoms
Wilted Hydrangea Blossoms (Source: Pexels)

Hydrangeas are a very climate-appropriate plant and need a temperate condition that is neither too cold nor hot.

Therefore, do not shy away from providing the right growing conditions to your Hydrangeas.

Let us talk further about the wilting Hydrangeas, their causes, and their solutions.

What does a Wilting Hydrangea Mean? Is it Normal?

It is not natural for these temperate plants to display wilting blooms. A wilting Hydrangea means the potting soil is lacking enough moisture.

Hydrangea requires moist soil at all times to help its feeder roots grab enough oxygen and water from the soil.

However, when the soil starts compacting because of extreme growing conditions, the plant root will stop taking oxygen and water, causing Hydrangea to turn limp and wilted.

Severe drought facing Hydrangea
Severe drought facing Hydrangea (Source: Pexels)

Moreover, the woody stems make it difficult for the blooms to get enough moisture from the drying soil.

According to GardenMyths,

To maintain its usual shape, it needs a certain amount of water pressure inside the leaves. The pressure is maintained solely by the roots that absorb water from the soil and supply it to the plant.

Let us check out all the possible causes for a wilting plant and their solutions.

Common Causes for Hydrangea Wilting

A sub-par growing condition affects the moisture level required for the plant, causing it to wilt and damage.

Many factors may stress the plant, including wrong light intensity, full sun, temperature fluctuations, low humidity, and too much fertilizing.

Hence, a stressed plant will start exhibiting wilted leaves as an early sign of damages.

Before it starts getting out of your hand, care to look at these possible causes for a wilted Hydrangea.

1. Heat Stress or Drought

Drooping stems and wilted blooms are the tell-tale signs of a dry plant that will return to its perky self after watering.

Heat stress is one of the primary reasons for a wilting plant, but if your plant fails to return to its natural state, you should know it suffers from heat stress.

A drought encourages Hydrangea to open the Stomata (the tiny openings or pores in the plant to let in carbon dioxide) to absorb moisture from the air.

However, instead of gaining moisture, the plant starts losing more water.

Without water for days, the Hydrangea will lose water exponentially, causing it to dry out sooner.

Extremely Warm Weather Causes Wilted Plant
Extremely Warm Weather Causes Wilted Plant (Source: Pixabay)

Solutions

  • As an immediate solution, deep water your plant, move it to a shaded area, and wait for it to revive.
  • Keep the soil moist until it comes back to life.
  • Install a drip irrigation system to keep the potting mix moist and prevent drought problems in the future.
  • Most plants will thrive after a few hours, but if they fail to come back to life even after a few days, consider them dead.

Are you worried if your Hydrangea is dead, here are a few tips to find out if your plant is dead or just dormant.

2. Insufficient Lighting

Hydrangea loves sunny locations that receive at least 6-8 hours of indirect sunlight each day.

They grow best in partial shade with a bit of direct morning sun.

Without proper lighting, your plant will struggle with photosynthesis to keep the blooms looking healthy and use up nutrients to produce new blossoms.

Moreover, insufficient lighting over long periods may affect its ability to convert light, oxygen, and water into carbon dioxide; thus, impacting healthy growth.

A weak stem with wilted blooms is often the primary sign of insufficient lighting.

Solutions

  • Do not move your plant to full sun to compensate for insufficient lighting as it may burn the blooms instead.
  • Moving to a location that receives enough indirect sunlight at least six hours a day may help to revive the plant.
  • Place them in an east or west-facing window that receives mild direct sunlight.
  • Move them to the south-facing window during the day that receives partial sunlight throughout the day.
  • If sunlight seems scarce during monsoon and winter, consider moving them indoors under the growing LED light for at least 6-8 hours a day.

3. Dehydrated Plant

A houseplant like Hydrangea quickly gets dehydrated when its water requirements are not being met.

An improper watering schedule in the growing season is a significant culprit for plant dehydration.

However, watering alone does not ensure plant hydration; you should look into the weather and soil conditions equally.

Dry weather and compact soil encourage plants to stop retaining enough water, causing plant saps to dry out pretty sooner.

A potting mix that contains a significant amount of sand and inorganic materials will dry out quickly compared to a composted, aerated mix.

Wilted Hyddrangea
Wilted Hydrangea (Source: Pexels)

Over time the potting mix will loosen the nutrients and microorganisms that will turn the soil compact and stale, requiring repotting.

Solutions

  • Introduce organic matter into the soil to improve moisture retention.
  • Organic matters like compost, perlite, and wood chirps assist the soil in retaining more moisture.
  • Use regular soil with perlite or pumice for a potting mix to keep the soil aerated. An aerated soil lets out excess moisture and prevents soil from compacting.
  • Prevent excessive water transpiration by balancing the sun and shade and moving the plant to a shaded location in the day and direct sunlight in the morning.
  • The soil requires changing after it loses the drainage ability after a year or two. Repot the plant in a fresh mix if the soil seems stale and compacted.
  • Introduce mulch when repotting to conserve moisture. Spread mulch 2 to 4″ but keep them 2″ away from the base of the plants

4. Over Fertilizing

The first rule of Hydrangea care is to not over-fertilize the plant.

Over-fertilizing Hydrangea will primarily burn the root system of the Hydrangea bushes and stunt its growth.

It may also leave toxins in the soil, making it difficult for feeder roots to take up water and nutrients; thus, causing wilted blooms and weaker stems.

Plant fertilizers (Source: Pexels)

Although too much nitrogen may inhibit bloom production, it may also lead to droopy flower heads caused by spindly growth.

Solutions

  • Flush the soil with as much water as the pot will hold over a few days to remove excess fertilizer.
  • If the plant seems to be severely stressed, your only solution is to repot the plant in fresh potting soil.

Preventive Measures

  • Always use a balanced fertilizer diluted to half-strength when feeding Hydrangea plants.
  • Switch to all-purpose fertilizer like Miracle-Gro Plant Food or balanced 10-10-10 granular fertilizer.
  • Feed your plant just before spring when it begins to leaf out and the second time in the monsoon to boost foliage growth.
  • If new blooms look heavier than the stem and overall plant, it means the plant is getting too much nitrogen.
  • Switch to the fertilizer with phosphorus and potassium with less nitrogen so your plant can grow evenly.

5. Wrong Sized Container

Too big a container means more water will be available to the soil, and too small a pot means the water will dry up quickly.

However, neither big nor small containers are appropriate for Hydrangea plants because they do not fare well with waterlogging or drought conditions.

Hydrangea is a rapidly growing plant that spreads its roots quickly; thus, engulfing the pot pretty quickly.

When the soil dries out, there will be less moisture available to plant.

Solutions

  • Choose an appropriately sized pot for mature Hydrangeas. A large container at least 18 to 20 inches in diameter should be enough.
  • When repotting the plant, choose a pot 2 inches larger than the previous pot to give enough space for the root growth.
  • Choose containers made from clay, ceramic, or terracotta to encourage air circulation and expel excess moisture. Alternatively, you can use plastic pots with enough drainage holes.

Here are a few recommendations for you.

ContainerSpecification
Classic Planter, 8" (Plastic)They are durable and lightweight. The drainage holes lie at the bottom
LE TAUCI Ceramic Plant Pots (Ceramic)4+5+6 inch, Set of 3, Planters with holes in the bottom
Plastic Planter, HOMENOTE (Plastic)Comes in five different sizes 7/6/5.5/4.8/4.5 Inch

6. Damaged Roots

Although rare, damaged roots during transplanting may cause wilted blooms.

If your Hydrangea blooms start wilting and dying immediately after transplanting, you should know that their roots are damaged from transplanting.

Here are a few causes of transplant stress.

  • Excessive pruning of feeder roots may damage the root system, preventing them from absorbing water and oxygen from the soil.
  • Using unsterilized pruning shear may infect the root, inviting bacterial infections that eat up healthy feeder roots.
  • Transplanting at the wrong time of the year, especially in winter, may also invite plant stress.
  • Overwatering the plant invites waterlogging problems that cause root rot. With the roots unable to suck up oxygen, the plant will start wilting.
Materials Used for Repotting
Materials Used for Repotting (Source: Pexels)

Solutions

  • Avoid under or overwatering your plant at all costs to avoid waterlogging and drought conditions.
  • Water, an inch of water, once a week during the growing season and once in two weeks in winter.
  • Transplant your Hydrangea either in spring or early fall to avoid plant stress.
  • Use rubbing alcohol to sterilizer the pruning shear before and after trimming plant roots.
  • Do not excessively prune feeder roots when transplanting as it may set back the root growth. As per the rule of thumb, cut only about half an inch of roots.

Learn more about properly repotting a Schefflera plant.

7. Pests and Disease Infestation

Some plant pests and diseases may also cause wilting of Hydrangea.

Mainly Fusarium and Verticillium fungi in the soil may infect the plant through roots and prevent water from reaching the flowers and leaves.

They may infest healthy Hydrangeas from infected transplants or contaminated equipment.

Likewise, pests like aphids and scale suck juices from plant leaves, flowers, and stems, leaving them dry and wilted.

Nematode worms, on the other hand, infest roots that cause wilting of plants.

Solutions

  • Stop bringing fresh cuts from the garden inside your home.
  • Stop keeping outdoor plants close to the Hydrangea bushes.
  • Sterilize the equipment and container before repotting the plant.
  • Use insecticidal soap or Neem oil to treat aphid, scale, and nematode infestation.
  • Use fungicide containing amphotericin B, vorionazole and posaconazole to treat fusarium and verticillium fungi.

Does Wilting Hurt Hydrangeas?

Although short-term wilting is usual with drought-stressed plants, occasional wilting will do more harm to the plant.

When Hydrangea does not get enough water, they stop growing and close down vital processes altogether to conserve water.

Prolonged drought will encourage the plant to open up stomata to grab moisture from the air, but it may end up drying up the plant even more quickly.

Faded Hydrangea
Faded Hydrangea (Source: Pixabay)

Hence, a dried plant will start wilting, pushing back growth, and eventually even dying.

You can quickly treat the plant from heat stress by thoroughly watering them and moving them to shaded locations.

However, a plant weakened to an extent where its stems start touching the ground suggests a severely dehydrated plant and deep-watering alone may not save it.

So, wilting is never good for Hydrangeas.

Why is my Newly Planted Hydrangea Wilting?

A newly planted Hydrangea may wilt due to lack of moisture in the soil or transplant shock.

A recently repotted plant may start wilting when transplanted in the wrong season (summer and winter) or when moved from one location to another.

Hydrangeas are temperature and light-sensitive plants that do not tolerate being moved often.

They would start exhibiting browning and wilting blooms when under stress.

Solutions

  • Plant your Hydrangea only in spring and fall to allow the roots to grasp the new soil gradually.
  • Planting in summer can quickly dry out plant roots causing early damages while growing in winter invites plant shock.
  • After planting, apply an inch thick layer of organic mulch (compose or leaf mold) to conserve moisture.
  • Protect them from direct sunlight and drought conditions by shading the plant and keeping the soil moist with regular watering.

How to Prevent Wilting in Hydrangea?

Hydrangea can wilt for several reasons, but you can easily prevent them by following the caring routine.

Here is the list of preventive measures to keep your beloved plant from wilting.

1. Schedule Watering

  • Start with scheduling watering to prevent over or under-watering.
  • Deepwater the plant with 1 inch of water per week throughout the growing season.
  • For Bigleaf and smooth Hydrangea species, deeply water three times a week in a growing season to encourage healthy root growth.
  • Cut back on watering in winter when the plant becomes dormant. Instead, water once in two weeks.
  • Check whether the top 1-2″ of soil has dried out between watering.
  • Alternatively, choose the soaking method where you put the plant in a container filled with a few centimeters of fresh water and let it soak water for a couple of hours.

2. Amend the Soil

  • Amending the soil with organic contents helps to retain moisture.
  • Consider amending the top 6-12 inches of the soil by mixing organic materials with high water holding capacity.
  • Using sphagnum peat moss in the potting mix helps to hold 20 times its weight in water.
  • After planting, apply an inch thick layer of organic mulch (compose or leaf mold) to conserve moisture.

3. Fertilize According to the Species

  • Fertilize your Hydrangea plant based on its species.
  • Bigleaf species need occasional light-fertilizing in a year, especially in March, May, and June.
  • Oakleaf and panicle species did well with two applications in April and June.
  • Smooth Hydrangea may need fertilizing only once, that too in late winter.
Dead Hydrangea Plant
Dead Hydrangea Flower (Source: Pixabay)

4. Choose the Right Location

  • As per the rule of thumb, Hydrangea grows well in a shaded location that directs 6 hours of indirect sunlight. However, they do enjoy direct sunlight in the morning or evening.
  • Place them in the east or west-facing window in the morning and noon.
  • Move them to a south-facing location that receives a generous amount of sunlight, but keep them shaded at all times to prevent leaf burns.
  • Keep them away from outdoor and houseplants to prevent any chances of pest and disease infestation.
Healthy Hydrangea flower
Healthy Hydrangea flower (Source: Pixabay)

Conclusion

Hydrangea plants are a fantastic addition to your home, where they produce showy blooms that last throughout the year.

However, neglecting their watering schedule, lighting needs, and other growing conditions will quickly wilt their blooms.

Therefore, be extra careful about caring for these sensitive plants by providing the best possible growing conditions at all times.

Follow the above guide to prevent usual problems with your Hydrangea and stop your plant from wilting in the future.

Related Article: Why do Kimberly Queen Fern Leaves get Crisp and Dry?

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