The Q&A Archives: Hydrangea Root Rot

Question: I installed 50 Pee Gee Compacta Hydrangea in the summer of 2003. In 2004 they were healthy and bloomed nicely. This Spring several of them failed to leaf out. Now about 1/3 of them have very small leaves and the roots are all rotting. Any suggestions? We are reducing the irrigation even though they do not seem to have been over watered.

Answer: Root rot has more to do with poor drainage than excessive irrigation. When roots sit in soggy soil, they suffocate from lack of oxygen. This can happen through irrigation in the summer or high levels of rainfall in the fall and winter months. To save your remaining hydrangeas you may have to improve the drainage either by installing a curtain drain or planting your hydrangeas in a raised bed (which facilitates good drainage). Best wishes with your hydrangeas!

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