What should I do to save my mother's Mophead?

WMegan(8)October 18, 2013

We both got mopheads at the same time. I planted mine in front of my bedroom window where it is mostly in the shade, and its doing well. It doesn't have a ton of blooms like some, but its big and nice and green. She planted hers in our bed in front of our house. Its in the morning sun, and in the afternoon shade. But, its doing real poorly. The stems are brown and dry, the leaves have spots, and it's way smaller then mine. We have the same soil. Is out morning sun to harsh for it? Its really hot where we live, we're about on the Florida line. Should I prune it, or move it? What do you suggest I do?

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This one is mine.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 11:39AM
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The blooms are sort of purple now.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 11:41AM
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There isn't really a problem with the other hydrangea, check if they have buds (found next to the leaves) as long as there are buds then it will survive, and spotting isn't bad at all it may look terrible but it is really common in hydrangeas. My own hydrangeas have spotting and they're healthy as can be, if this hydrangea dosent make it till the spring just replant another one

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 5:44PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

The bottom of the first photo is not too clear but it gave me the impression that the shrub does not have much mulch so (1) I would make sure that there is 3"-4" of mulch to minimize having to water often and to make the moisture last longer.

(2) Compost in the soil will also help if you have sandy soil. You can add a layer of compost (say 1/2") as an organic fertilizer to help provide many nutrients lacking in sandy soil.

Finally, (3) try to maintain the soil as evenly moist as possible. Periods of dry-moist-dry can result of plants whose leaves dry out and then new smaller leaves grow back. Keeping the soil as moist as possible should help but one has to make a habit of checking the soil often. If your soil is sandy, be ready to water more. Plants in sandy soil can sometimes require about 50% more water, so give it about 1.5 gallons per watering if planted in sandy soil. And consider doing a soil test to check for mineral deficiencies.

To check the soil moisture, use the finger method. Every morning for 2-3 weeks insert a finger into the soil to a depth of 3-4" and determine if the soil feels wet, moist or dry. If it feels dry or almost dry, water the soil (not the leaves) and make a note in a wall calendar indicating that you watered on that day. Overhead watering (watering the leaves) may be causing the leaf spots. After 2-3 weeks, check the calendar and determine -on average- how often you had to water. Say, once every 3 days, 4 days, etc. Then set the sprinkler or drip irrigation to water 1 to 1.5 gallons on that same frequency. If the weather or the temperatures change 10-15 degrees and stay there, recheck again using the finger method to see if you need to water more frequently or less.

As the plant goes dormant and the leaves dry out, dispose of the leaves in the trash so the fungal infection that is causing the spots will not spread. Dispose of any plant material that has fallen on the ground in the trash as well. To promote less fungal problems, I would deadhead (not prune) the spent blooms when they turn brownish and dispose of them in the trash.

As far as the sun exposure, morning sun/afternoon shade would be fine but since our sun is strong in the summer, be careful. I let mine get sun from 6am-8am and shade from 11am-ish so, basically, in the summer months they get a little over 4+ hours of sun. If you count the number of hours of sun and it is high, they may need less sun or more water to handle that.


This post was edited by luis_pr on Fri, Oct 18, 13 at 23:11

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 8:03PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

That is really excellent advice from Luis. Your mothers problem is undoubtedly caused by uneven moisture in the soil, allowing the soil to dry too much, before watering again. Al

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 10:15AM
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i agree with Al and Luis. I live in NC, zone 7b and my hydrangeas look exactly like that when they get too dry. They love evenly moist soil and some shade.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 11:53AM
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