Dead hydrangeas

JBossiAugust 30, 2012

We just redid our entire front yard, including a new raised bed garden. We planted four new hydrangeas. Within a couple of weeks they began to show signs of leaf spot and iron deficiency, do we sprayed for leaf spot and then we fed some iron per directions. Within two days two of the plants leaves had all turned brown and fell off plant. Is there any hope? I will try to post pictures.

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Here is a picture of the "dead" plant planted a little over four weeks ago.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 7:53PM
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Karolina11(6b Central PA)

First, can you tell us what type of hydrangea it was and what conditions it was planted in? Lots of light or shade? Type of soil, etc?

Second, as it went down that quickly, my instinct is to ask about how it was put into the soil. Did you work out the rootball? How big was the hole you made for it? When you watered, did you make sure that the root ball was watered? I have seen these symptoms on my hydrangeas when I didn't take care to make sure they were not root bound when planting.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 9:37PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Did the fungicide have some warnings in the label that may account for the damage in the pictures? Sometimes the fungicides and insecticides say not to apply to certain plants. I am actually surprised that there are green leaves that dropped down instead of browning first.

Also check that the iron chlorosis amendment was correctly applied. For example, applications of too much aluminum sulfate can burn roots for example. If the amount used was fine, consider soil m,oisture problems.

Periods of moist soil followed by periods of dry soil could account for the browning of leaves. Watering too much would also cause wilting of leaves that would eventually brown out and fall (but it woulkd be rare for them to fall while still green). This happens when the roots cannot absorb oxygen and, if allowed to be in wet soil for a long time, the wilting problem is continuous and causes root rot. Hot temps could cause soooome temporary wilting (fixes itself overnight) but I assume you have them planted in morning sun and afternoon shade conditions, right?

I suggest extracting the plants and inspecting the roots to see if they are rotting or if there is damage from pests that eat roots. Place them in pots and water them well. You can plant them back when they go dormant. Remember to keep them watered and mulched while potted. BNest to let them get indirect sun. When you replant back, maintain the soil constantly moist as best as you can. If the Fall and Winter are dry, water them (1 gallon of water) once every week or once every two weeks.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:19PM
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springwood_gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

Plant hydrangeas in early April or early fall only. Too many risks otherwise.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 9:20AM
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Thanks for some suggestions everyone -- to answer questions asked, this is an Endless Summer Hydrangea. It was planted about four weeks ago (early August) by the landscapers doing our yard. I have to assume they planted it correctly. It came from a nursery and was an outside hydrangea. It was new, reconditioned soil, with amendments. Previously, we had problems because of the clay soil, that is why we raised the entire garden area and added soil and mulch. This area is along our garage and gets morning sun until about 11 am, then it is shaded the rest of the day. This is South Carolina and we did just have tons of rain; but I do think it may be related to the iron treatment since it happened so soon after that application. I will try pulling them and seeing if I can get them to come back. Any suggestions on when I should "replant"?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 11:30AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

You could replant when the shrub shows either new growth or when it goes dormant. These would some sort-of kind-of isngs that it is doing better.

If you added too much iron treatment, you could replace the soil in that area. Some people add garden lime to counteract acidic amendments but I have not done that so I am not sure how much garden lime to add. For that reason, I suggested replacing the soil in the area where you added iron supplements.

When you move the plant: smell the roots to see if they smell awful or rotten, indication of too much watering and root rot. If they look as if something has been nibbling at them, your culprit may be an underground pest like voles, etc.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 1:07PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I think Karolina nailed it in her second paragraph.
I'd give it a good soaking as often as possible. You didn't say how much, if any, water you gave it. I think the rootball dried out because it was rootbound.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 11:16AM
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