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New to Hydraneas

Posted by martha_mechva Virginia (My Page) on
Wed, Dec 9, 09 at 12:20

I am new to hydraneas. I planted two of them in the spring that were indoor potted flowers during Easter and they have been doing great. Not too big in size when I got them but they have definitely grown well during the year. However, within the past week, the leaves have started to turn brownish black and are falling off. Is this normal for the winter? I was always under the impression that they keep leaves year around. We have had A LOT of rain (living in Virginia) in the past month and a half but I believe where the plants are get plenty of drainage. I'm not sure if that might be a contributing factor.

Any enlightenment would be greatly appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: New to Hydraneas

The lose thier leaves in the fall then leaf back up in late spring. In my area they look like dead twigs until may.


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RE: New to Hydraneas

Yes, hydrangeas are not evergreen :-) They will sometimes hold their foliage well into winter if temperatures are mild but they will eventually turn brown and fall off. Turning black is often an indication they have gone through a hard frost before the plants are fully dormant. Not to worry....it is perfectly normal.


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RE: New to Hydraneas

The hydrangeas I moved here and there around the garden this year were fine as long as I kept them well watered. The hint is in the name: 'hydra'. They need plenty of water, especially if you transplant them. Mine lost their leaves normally once it turned cold in autumn but one that's more sheltered than the others had leaves that went from green to burgundy before dropping around the end of October. There's a 40' x 20' area of mature bushes on my southern boundary that drops all the leaves every fall but the mophead flowers stay on the stems right through the winter.


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RE: New to Hydraneas

Winter rears its ugly head later over here. We just had 3" of snow (a lot for this area) and the hydrangea leaves did the same as yours, martha_mechva. They will eventually dry out completely, turn brownish and either fall off or disintegrate so do not worry.


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RE: New to Hydraneas

iam new to hydrangea plants,and i really dono how to take care of this plant,infact i bought yestarday 1 hydrangea plant and its in a big pot,and couple flowers on a way to blossom,i will really happy if someone tells me how to take care of hydrangea .and the weather were i stay is minimum 15 Celsius and max is 36 Celsius.so just waitin for someone s reply who can tell me how to care for this plant thanks


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RE: New to Hydraneas

f1laila, Hydrangeas need lot of water. Do you have it planted in a pot or outside? I have mine outside and during Spring and fall I water mine only once a week but deeply (for 15 minutes) that encourages the roots to go deeper and be more drought tolerant. In the summer I water two to three times a week depending on how hot it gets but first I check to make sure the soil isn't wet before watering. If you have it in a pot you will need to water more often. I would feed them a fertilizer n the Spring and again when they are flowering. I do Winter protection for mine but you might not need to do so. Other than that I don't do much to my hydrangeas and they are thriving. I have mine planted in well drained rich soil. Best of luck!


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RE: New to Hydraneas

  • Posted by bejoy2 Z8, Seattle, WA (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 28, 10 at 3:04

Do you know what kind of hydragea you have? Because not all hydrangeas lose their leaves in the fall. Oakleaf hydrangeas are evergreen. If you have an oakleaf hydrangea and it lost its leaves, you have a problem. It's easy to identify, since, as the name implies, the leaves are shaped like oak leaves. If you can't remember what the leaves looked like, think back to the flower shape. If it was a big ball of flowers, or a flattened disc with both large and small flowers, then it's a bigleaf hydrangea, and it is deciduous. If the flowers are shaped like a pyramid, it could be a oakleaf hydrangea which is evergreen. There are other types of hydrangeas, but the three I have discussed are the most common. Something else you should know is that the hydrangeas they sell as indoor potted plants for easter (which are bigleaf hydrangeas, by the way) have a very poor track record when planted outdoors. They often die, and it isn't anything you did. They are just very tender.


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RE: New to Hydraneas

Sorry, oakleaf hydrangeas are NOT evergreen. They do tend to retain most of their foliage through winter - the term is 'marscent' - much like some oaks and beeches do, but it is not the same as being evergreen. This is old seasonal foliage, it will change color in fall and dry slightly and will fall off (abscise) as new foliage buds are formed in late winter or early spring. In colder climates, this plant is fully deciduous but usually not until midwinter.

This is what an oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia) looks like in early spring as the new growth is emerging. It is obviously NOT evergreen:

There are only a couple of evergreen species of hydrangea. They are climbing forms and are rather tender, only borderline hardy in zone 8. And an evergreen hydrangea relative, Dichroa febrifuga, which is hardy to zone 7.


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RE: New to Hydraneas - florist's hydrangeas

Just wanted to add that florist's or greenhouse hydrangeas - those that are sold in bloom at groceries, etc. for Easter and other holidays - can be transitioned to the landscape rather easily in warmer zones (7 and above). The plants are not less hardy than regular nursery landscape plants but because of their unique growing conditions, they do need to be coddled a bit :-)

They should be gradually acclimated to the outdoors once any danger of frost is past. This is most often accomplished by taking them outdoors and placing them in a sheltered (out of the sun) location for a few hours each day and bringing them back indoors overnight. The length of time they spend outdoors is gradually increased until they are out all day and once nighttime temperatures are above 50F, they can remain outside all night. Then they can be planted into the landscape. They will not rebloom that season and it may even take another year before they produce flowers but they will, evetually :-)

It appears the OP (martha) has already mastered this process, as her florist's hydrangeas have been thriving.


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