The Q&A Archives: Lacecap Hydrangea

Question: I bought 2 lacecap Monrovia Hydrangeas and planted them on the west side of our house which has shade in the morning and sun in the afternoon. Ever since they were planted, we have noticed that (1) the foliage droops (instead of erect) very often, sometimes on the daily basis. After we keep watering them, they get a bit better, but then the next day the same thing happened. We wonder why.

(2) In winter, they become deciduous--there was nothing left except some dried-up branches. The following spring, they start growing from the very beginning. Is this normal? If they start from scratch each year, how can they be expected to grow taller and wider and stay that way? We are very confused.

We would appreciate if you can provide us some insights. Thanks very much.

Answer: Hydrangeas have a habit of looking quite wilted in hot afternoon sunshine. It's perfectly normal and the plant's way of conserving water. You'll notice that when the sun goes down the plant will start to perk up and by morning it will look perfectly healthy. The way to avoid this is to plant them where they receive morning sun and shade from hot afternoon sunshine.

Hydrangeas do lose their leaves in the fall and the bare branches remain bare until the following spring. If the branches are not killed by winter weather they will produce new shoots, which will flower that summer. If the branches die down in the winter, the roots will send up new shoots but the shoots will not produce flowers because lacecap hydrangeas flower on one year old shoots that develop on old wood. Without old wood, your hydrangea will not flower.

You can protect your hydrangea from freezing back in the winter by pruning it down in late fall to about 18" and covering it with a mound of compost or fallen leaves, then covering over the mound with chicken wire. You can add more insulating material (such as straw or hay). This should protect the old wood from dying during the winter months. In the spring, remove the insulating material and new shoots will develop on the old wood. The new shoots will flower for you.

Best wishes with your hydrangeas!

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