How to Save Your Dying Hydrangea Plants

I had a colorful bouquet sitting on my desk as a little pick-me-up, and despite my best efforts, most of them began to wilt after about a week. There were some other flowers in the mix, but the hydrangeas began to droop first. I wasn’t quite ready to throw out the entire arrangement, so I decided to try an online hack for reviving hydrangeas to see if I could extend the life of the blooms for a few more days. 

Surprisingly, it worked well, and most of the individual hydrangea flowers survived. Here are the solutions I found.

How Can I Revive a Dying Hydrangea Plant?

Hydrangea Plant

Drought, frost damage, excessive sun exposure, or transplant shock are common causes of dying hydrangea plants. Maintaining constant soil moisture and offering shade from the noon sun will prevent hydrangeas from wilting and dying.

To save a dying hydrangea, it’s critical to replicate some of the elements of its natural habitat in your garden, focusing on soil moisture and shelter from excessive sun and wind. Here are some problems and their solutions that worked for me.

1. Root Rot

If your plant has floppy, yellowed leaves, it may be suffering from root rot. This occurs when you overwater, and your soil retains excessive water. The plant must be re-potted into fresh, dry soil if it is in a pot.

If your plant is already in the ground, assess its location. If it is in a low-lying area, you may need to relocate it to a room with a slight incline so that excess water can drain.

If your environment is suitable, try turning the soil around the plant to aerate it. Incorporate some fresh, dry soil into the mixture.

Include an antifungal treatment in the water the first time you water your Hydrangea after changing the soil.

Avoid overwatering, whether your plant is in a pot or the ground. Deep watering once a week, directly to the soil, is recommended for newly planted hydrangeas or potted plants.

A well-maintained plant in the ground may be fine with only natural rainwater.

2. Too Much Sunlight

If your Hydrangea is dying from too much sunlight, the leaves will be scorched and dry to the touch. Despite regular watering, they will turn yellow and appear wilted.

How can you tell if your Hydrangea has been sunburned? It is simple to determine whether your hydrangeas have been sunburned. The leaves directly exposed to sunlight will be the most damaged, whereas the shaded areas will be greener, even if wilting.

The majority of hydrangea varieties thrive in partial shade. They thrive under a canopy of trees with dappled sunlight streaming through or during early sunrise.

When your plant is exposed to direct sunlight for over 6 hours, the leaves can become scorched and burnt, especially in dry areas.

If your Hydrangea gets too much sun, it will become sunburned and eventually die. You should relocate it to a more shady area if your Hydrangea is exposed to the sun for most of the day.

If that is not possible, your plant may require other trees to provide shade and protect it from direct sunlight. If the plant’s leaves are damaged by sunburn, they will not recover. The plant, however, can recover after being shaded. To stimulate new growth, cut off the sunburned parts of the plant, and it will recover quickly.

3. Frosted Damage

Hydrangea leaves and flowers can suddenly turn black or brown.

New tender growth is vulnerable to damage from late spring or early fall frosts. Hydrangea leaves can turn brown or black for various reasons, but if they have changed color overnight from a healthy green, this is due to frost damage.

Frost damage primarily affects new, tender emerging growth in the spring, leaving larger, more established leaves unaffected (as they are hardier and acclimatized to cold weather).

However, frost damage can happen if the overnight temperature drops significantly in the fall. Fortunately, hydrangeas are hardy plants, and while frost damage may appear severe, the Hydrangea can quickly recover with care. However, frost can damage flower buds, preventing flowering.

To revive frost-damaged hydrangeas, carefully prune back any part that has been significantly damaged at the shoots (avoid cutting back into the wood), which will promote new healthy growth.

Frost damage may not kill your Hydrangea, so it should recover with patience and careful pruning, though it may not flower appropriately until the following year.

4. Excess Fertilizers

Too much fertilizer in the soil can cause the hydrangea roots to burn, resulting in brown, drooping, and dying hydrangeas.

Fertilizers are not always necessary for hydrangeas and can often be harmful. Using mulch around the plant can help it thrive.

Hydrangeas will only need fertilizer if the soil is sandy and lacking in nutrients or if the Hydrangea is planted in pots with limited soil and nutrients.

Well-rotted manure benefits the plant, but if it is made from poultry manure, it will be high in nitrogen, burning the roots. Compost can be used instead. Use no fresh manure on your plants, and ensure that it has been well-rotted for at least a year.

Suppose your Hydrangea shows signs of stress, water it thoroughly to dilute the water-soluble nitrogen in the fertilizer. Plant it in a new location using soil and compost, remove any brown leaves or flowers, and refrain from using fertilizers for a while. This should help the hydrangea recover.

5. Mildew On Hydrangea

Check your settings to ensure that your plant receives adequate air circulation. Allow it to stand alone if it is a potted indoor plant. Consider adding a low-powered fan directed into a room corner to keep the air moving without blowing wind directly onto the plant.

If you’re going to plant it outside, ensure it’s far enough away from other large plants to allow for good air circulation. Prune out older, damaged, or excess canes to improve air circulation—rake fallen leaves, grass clippings, and debris away from the plant’s base.

Apply a foliar fungal treatment to your plant, and then incorporate a systemic fungal product into your subsequent watering treatment.

Examine the soil. If the soil is wet, your plant may develop root rot. You’ll need to re-pot or relocate the plant, aerate, and amend the soil with some dry soil.

How To Revive Wilted Hydrangea Plant

Wilted Hydrangea Plant

Few things are more unappealing to my eyes than a wilting hydrangea, whether in a vase, a pot, or the ground. If the Hydrangea plant is in the garden or a container, it could be due to over-pruning, excessive direct sunlight exposure, too much water, and insufficient soil nutrients.

If the Hydrangea in your vase is wilting, it is most likely due to incorrect cutting or improper hydration.

I’m about to reveal a top-secret ingredient for revitalizing your hydrangea bushes! You’ve probably never heard of this before, but you probably have the secret ingredient right now in your kitchen, and it’s nothing more than baking soda.

The secret is baking soda, but remember that a little goes a long way. To treat your wilted hydrangeas, combine one tablespoon of baking soda with 2 quarts of water. Stir to ensure that the baking soda is completely dissolved. This amount will treat 3-4 hydrangea bushes.

Every two weeks, apply this baking soda treatment. If you only have one hydrangea plant, you can use the treatment for other struggling plants and expect similar results.

You should notice more robust hydrangeas in a week or two. The plants’ blooms become fuller and healthier.

If your hydrangeas aren’t impressing you as much as they should, or have become wilted, try baking soda. It has always worked for me, and I have no doubt it’ll work for you as well.

Important Takeaways

  • Potted hydrangeas are susceptible to root rot if there are no drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Small pots can soon dry up, which restricts root development.
  • Hydrangeas can be revived by watering them frequently, applying compost mulch, and protecting them from direct sunlight and strong winds. Pruning back any frost- or sun-damaged growth will encourage healthy development.
  • Insufficient soil moisture is the most frequent reason for Hydrangea dying. Hydrangeas can droop or even die if the soil is not continuously wet.
  • Frost damage, drought, transplant shock, and too much sun can cause hydrangeas to die.


When Is It Too Late to Revive My Hydrangeas?

In the spring, that collection of hydrangea sticks starts to generate new growth, either from the crown, off a cane, or base of the plant. Suppose you don’t see any new growth by approximately May. In that case, your plant may have suffered from “winter kill,” which was undoubtedly brought on by excessively low, freezing conditions that were potentially made worse by a drying wind.

It is advisable to scrape some branches with your fingernail to be sure. Some green will show through the bark if the stem is still alive. By late spring, you will know if your Hydrangea is dead if you can’t discover any living stems and no sprouts emerging from the plant’s base. At this point, your only option is to remove the plant and try a more cold-resistant kind.

Do I Need to Remove Brown Hydrangea Blooms in The Winter?

Depending on the variety, hydrangeas can bloom on either old or new wood. Old-wood blooming hydrangeas need to be pruned just after the flowers fade in the late summer, but new-wood blooming hydrangeas should be pruned in late winter before new growth begins.

Before pruning, clean shears and saws with a 10% bleach solution. When you relocate to a new bush or remove unhealthy or insect-infested wood, dip them in the solution again.

Is It Okay To Trim My Hydrangea All The Way Down?

These shrubs can be removed entirely from the ground in late winter or the beginning of spring. If cut severely like this every year, smooth hydrangeas will develop much larger flowers, but many gardeners prefer smaller blooms on more robust stems.

If you see your hydrangea not looking its best, I urge you to take action immediately. You now have the tools to keep every Hydrangea looking full, healthy, and strong, and how to keep your Hydrangea floral arrangements looking brand-new while extending their lifespan exponentially. 

Keeping potted and grounded hydrangeas happy and providing them with the conditions they require to thrive should not be a problem anymore. The world’s hydrangeas are now in better hands, and the world is more beautiful.

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