Hydrangea: leaves okayish, flowers feeble if at all...??

nihalApril 4, 2009

Hello, I am an inept but determined (novice) gardener, so please bear with me. I inherited a lovely garden with several hydrangea plants in different locations, and of different colors. My problems seem to be the same on all the plants :

very lush, dark green foliage, no flowers, or the flowers start to open but then go brownish and wilt. The flower colour is always much paler than it should be. Some of the leaves on the underside are crinkly brown around the edges and eventually dry up/fall off.

Could anybody help me clarify once and for all the basic regimen of these plants, especially how much water and how often to fertilize, what the acid/alkaline levels of the soil should be (depending on the colour I want)... the basics.



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Welcome to the board, Nihal.
At first I was very surprised to learn that hydrangea could live at all in Africa. :-)
Nevertheless, this plant in general requires substantial shade and moisture (not only a soil moisture, but air moisture as well) if grown in southern regions. Assuming yours are in shade since you have "very lush, dark green foliage" absence or minimal number of flowers could be attributed to not sufficient amount of direct sun for flower buds to develops. It's like a closed circle: more sun will result in a more blooms, but more sun also translates into burned foliage and washed out color of flowers. To find the right proportion of sun/shade/moisture is always a challenge for southern growers.
Also, in order to bloom hydrangeas need dormancy period of at least 60 days. Does your climate provide it?
I have a family friend who lives in Costa Rica and despite excellent conditions she could provide for hydrangeas they bloom very sparsely because she can't induce them into dormancy for more than 25-30 days.
Maybe some Californians and Floridians will chime in and add something.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 11:07AM
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hI Ego45, thanks for responding. We have a meditaranean climate here, much like southern spain/france/italy so there are plenty of hydrangeas here. Infact, most non-tropical plants grow well in this region, since it is not too hot and, surprisingly, we get about 3 months of rain a year.
In response to your question, yes, my hydrangeas have been dormant for a while and are only now starting to revive. It's just that, the budding flower, seems to wilt before it blooms. That's what I am wondering about. That, and the fact the leaves curl up which I suspect is a water problem but i can't figure out if it gets too much or too little water. But you taught me that the more the shade, the darker the foliage, and looking more closely I noticed that the one with the least sun is indeed darker; the others have a fair mix of sun/shade and the foliage is a middle green (and curling leaves!!) It's not yet hot enough for the sun to be causing burnt foliage, and they are mostly on the UNDERSIDE of the plant. Could it be insects??

Anyhow, if you can help further, that's wonderful. Either way, thanks again for your feedback.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 6:07PM
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