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Ronkonkoma, NY and Catskills, (Zone 7a)
May 17, 2020 7:02 AM CST
|Annabelle leaves are curling as soon as they open. I do not see any insects or webs. This plant was taken from a shrub (180 miles away) so I doubt if it is the soil. The original plant ( 12 yrs old) started doing this two years ago. Flower buds do not fully develop. We have had tons of rain here in New York. I thought I noticed a tiny bit of fuzz on underside but not sure. Please help me save my beautiful shrubs. Thank you
May 18, 2020 3:27 AM CST
|When hydrangea leaves are dry and curling, the most likely cause is drought or insufficient watering. However you say you get a ton of rain and so I supect a possible insect. There are several insect pests that cause leaves to curl when they suck plant juices of new or young leaves that are still growing. These include aphids, thrips, and whiteflies. Get your magifier with a light and get a close look on top and bottom of the leaves.
NOT A EXPERT! Just a grow worm! I never met a plant I didn’t love.✌
May 18, 2020 5:05 PM CST
|The pics do not appear to show a plant in stress or dieing so I think it will be fine.
If you have not seen insects, I would think it is just a little winter damage due to cold temps. Once the sap begins to flow, cold temps below/around 32F or a late frost can zap either the whole leaf or parts. The Catskill, NY area had your share of sub-freezing lows last week and several dips in the 20s-low 30s that could have resulted in frost damage.
Pests like spider mites and worms like the hydrangea leaf tier are liable to show very soon though. They are common in Annabelle-like hydrangeas in the northeast from May through June.
Mites will also show webs on new leaf growth and can be detected by their webbing. But they are very tiny. They prefer to bother the new foliage though.
Worms can be detected by sightings and if you see the moths flying to lay eggs. Pick them and throw them away in the trash.
Mealy bugs should also be around the corner in the NE. They are whiteish and can be seen during the day. They like Annabelle-like hydrangeas too.
Chemicals used by you or by neighbors could also cause some damage. New foliage would suffer more but you would think that some of the older leaves would also suffer a little too. Depending on winds and the size of the affected shrubs, the location of the plant damage might point to where the whiff of chemicals came from.
I am not quite sure how this problem is affecting the blooms though (is it not too early yet for blooms up there?). Annabelle blooms on new wood and it should now be starting to think about developing the flower buds. Flower buds in hydrangeas are invisible; they grow inside the stems so they are protected from weather issues and deer-like pests. You can only see leaf buds. When flower buds open off the stems, they look like small broccoli heads. They then get a little larger until they start to form the mophead or lacecaps bloom structure that we are all familiar with.
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