I am completely stumped---please help!

joannembSeptember 5, 2010

My sister theresa hydrangea that has sat happily in it's container on my porch all summer was finally planted in it's home (same spot--in front of the porch in the ground) 2 weeks ago, and has been drooping really bad this week---without recovering. I'm familiar with the whole droop/recover thing that they do... My endless summers do it in full hot sun, but recover in the evening. This spot is not in full sun--- just gets morning sun from 8-noon. It liked the spot when it was potted... It gets just a bit more sun than it did before it was in the ground because it is no longer under the porch roof. I have kept it watered twice a week or so... I always check and it has never really dried out. I water when it is cool/damp but not wet. I wondered if I had overwatered and wanted to see if it was sitting in a puddle or something, so I dug beside it to expose the rootball.... and the rootball was damp, but not soaked. It's been really nice and cool the past couple of days... if it was wilting because of the heat is should have definitely recovered by now. I've asked 2 nurseries and they do not know.... I am at a loss and I love this plant--it was just so beautiful I hate to lose it---and not even know WHY!? What could I be missing???

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msalcido(7/8 (Dallas/Ft.Worth))

Hi Joannemb,
It sounds like it's in transplant shock. Although it's almost in the same location as before, it is now getting a little more sun than it's used to. Try maybe giving it some shelter (lawn chair, box, etc..) to see if that helps.

Hopefully others will have more advice for you. I hope it works out.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 5:57PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

It sounds like the original rootball is dry. Even tho you water, you have to pay special attention to get the water into the original rootball.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 8:15PM
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Well after I got your message Jean, I decided go out and water again. It was too late to drag out the hose, so I watered with a 2 gallon watering can, trickling the water down right over top of the rootball slowly. Would you know this morning when I woke up, 1/2 of the leaves have recovered! I am going to do a slow trickle with the hose this morning (I know that is how I should be watering, but we planted soooo many shrubs this past year.... over 50 total) and I simply don't have the time to water all of them that way.) The others have been fine, but obviously this little darling needs some tlc, so I will be sure to water her deeply.

Thank you so much for taking the time to advise.... Gardening is new to me and I dove in head first last year when we re-landscaped by ourselves. The people on these boards have solved mysterious plant issues from dog urine (turned out to be my neighbor's) to spider mites..... Issues that none of the nurseries (and I go to the owners to ask questions) could ever figure out.
You all are awesome! Thanks again

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 8:29AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

A newly planted small hydrangea can do with about 1 gallong of water per watering. Toi make sure the plant needs water, insert a finger to a depth of 4" and water when the soil feels almost dry or dry. The finger method system requires that you test the soil at the same time of the day for about two weeks. Each time you water, you can make a note on a wall calendar indicating that you watered on that day. After two weeks, you can review the notes and determine how often you had to water. Say, every 3/4/5/6 days. Once you know the frequency of waterings using the finger method, you can set up the drip irrigation or sprinkler system to water 1 gallon of water on the same frequency. Should temperatures change by 10-15 degrees and stay there, retest using the finger method again. Reduce watering in the fall and water the soil in winter if you get dry winters and the ground has not frozen. It also helps if you add 3-4" of mulch up to the drip line to maintain the soil moist longer.

Wilting is very common with hydrangeas before they are established in the garden. It may take 1-2 years for them to become established. But normally they should recover as the sun goes down and definitely by the next morning. Otherwise, they need to be watered. The wilting problem usually surfaces in the summer months so coller fall temps and wetter weather should soon help. Try not to overwater as that can result in root rot if the roots stay wet too long. The symptoms for root rot are similar to those of plants that do not get enough water: wilting of leaves; the finger method can help guide you if you are not sure when to water.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 11:15AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

One way to deal with multiple recently planted shrubs is to use plastic gallon jugs. Looks hokey but it works.

To do so, put a pinhole in opposite corners at the bottom, set a jug on top of each rootball, then fill every jug daily.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 2:11PM
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