Struggling transplanted hydrangeas

westseattledebAugust 5, 2010

My neighbor was going to toss three hydrangeas that were planted in too tight of a spot and so were not doing well.

I transplanted them on the north side of my house in May. I cut off all of the dead wood and have been watering deep once a week. They are barely hanging on, although two have kept some of the blooms and all are getting new leaves here and there.

I'm wondering if I should cut them back to give them a better chance of survival, or leave them be until I would normally cut back other hydrangeas in the yard when they go dormant.

Heres a couple of pics of the poor things. They are about 5 feet tall.

The two that are showing more signs of life:

The worst of the three, but still getting new leaves:

Thanks for your help.

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I just transplanted 2 that were getting strangled by overgrown hosta, and I cut them down about 2ft. above the ground. That was a few weeks ago---they are already putting on new growth and are doing great. I personally would cut all the dead stuff back now, and up the watering to twice a week. I shoot for every 3-5 days--checking ground moisture a couple inches down on day 3. If it's dry, I water... if not I wait a day or 2.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 8:44PM
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I'd agree with joanne's advice. The plants are suffering from a combination of transplant shock (being moved in the prime growing season) and most likely an insufficiently large rootball. That's caused all the existing growth to die off (not enough roots to support it). Hard for mature shrubs with compromised root systems to move water/nutrients through all that stem height to get to what foliage has survived. Although you will probably lose most of next season's bloom, I'd cut back now and continue to water well. And I also think once a week is probably not enough, especially as we are now in our dry period here in the PNW and will remain so until well into September.

This will reduce the stress on the plants and they should respond with a lot of new basal growth. We do this fairly often at the nursery on plants that are damaged or missed watering and they respond rapidly. I'd also mulch the root zones with a thick layer of organic mulch - compost would be my choice - to retain soil moisture and lower soil temperatures and to provide a natural, slow release nutrient source.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 11:33AM
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Thank you Joanne and gardengal. I'll cut them back today and up the watering. The neighbor was not very careful when he dug them out, as they were destined for the yardwaste bin. I did get them into the ground right away though, and used a lot of Gardner & Bloom organic soil building compost mixed into the soil around the root ball and also worked about 4" depth into the remainder of the bed.

I'd rather forfeit blooms next year in exchange for having them survive and thrive.

Thanks again.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 1:39PM
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