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Avatar for Lina88
May 17, 2020 11:31 AM CST
Thread OP


New to gardening here! I planted a little lime hydrangea bush in our garden in central NJ about 3 years ago just adding some composte during planting and it doesn't seem to be doing too well. The year we planted it I didn't water it too often and a lot of the leaves dried and fell off. However, last summer I tried to water regularly when it was very hot in the summer, but still in the heat waves the leaves would turn yellow. It did produce about 4-5 blooms so I thought not too bad. This year, the plant looks about the same in size no new growth from the base and just leaves at the top of the plant. The leaves look nice and green, but I'm wondering why they're only at the top of the plant. Should I try to fertilize it to get more leaf growth or is it possible it's something with the soil we have here? It seems to be just getting by, looking for some advice to revive it. Thanks!
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Last edited by Lina88 May 17, 2020 11:32 AM Icon for preview
Avatar for luis_pr
May 17, 2020 6:58 PM CST
Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Azaleas Salvias Roses Plumerias Region: Northeast US Region: New Hampshire
Hydrangeas Hibiscus Region: Georgia Region: Florida Dog Lover Region: Texas
Welcome to NGA, Lima88. A reliable watering program is important. But compact Little Lime is not as vigorous as the plain ole huge Limelight in my experience. And I am not complaining. I actually prefer that it stay low because regular Limelight tries to zoom 12 feet up in the air. In your case, it is doubly important to provide soil moisture and retain it because on two sides of the plant, there are white-ish surfaces that reflect sunlight to towards the plant.

"I tried to water regularly when it was very hot in the summer, but still in the heat waves the leaves would turn yellow." I am not sure how much water you used. Maybe not enough?

When to water: maintain 2-4" of mulch at all times and water (never the leaves, only the soil) if a finger inserted to a depth of 4" feels dry or almost dry. The reason for 4" is that most roots will be on the top 4" and that part of the soil dries out fast.

Is that enough water? When you water it, make sure that you start near the root ball or crown (where the stems originate from) and spread water in all directions that the roots may be growing. A few hours afterwards, insert a finger into the soil to a depth of 8" and see if it feels dry or almost dry down to a depth of 8". If yes, the amount of water was not enough so water some more.

As a guideline of watering amounts, you can start hand watering 1 gallon in Spring when you see leaf out. When temps are regularly above 85F, increase the amount of watering to 1.5 gallons. If temps are regularly above 95F, increase the amount of water to 2 gallons. Maintain mulch at all times. Make sure the mulch gets all the way to the drip line or beyond. When temperatures recede in the Fall and are usually below 95F, reduce waterings to 1.5 gallons per each watering. Then when temps are usually below 85F, reduce the amount of water to 1 gallon per watering. Tweak as needed for your conditions which may require even much, much more water than those numbers. When the plant goes dormant and the leaves brown out in the Fall, water once a week or once every two weeks depending on local rains. Stop watering when the soil freezes. Resume watering when you see leaf out in the Spring. Watch out in places/winters where winter may be mild and dry.

Tweak those watering amounts if the water does not reach to a depth of 8" after you have watered.

Paniculatas will show heat stress by yellowing some leaves at the bottom of the bush during the summer. It is called "showing their feet". Just maintain the soil moist as evenly as you can and maintain 2-4" of mulch. The rest will be up to the plant. But remember those white walls reflecting sunlight and heat so try not to skip waterings.

There is no good way to control where leaves will grow but you can try pinching early in the season. It makes hydrangeas get bushier.

You can fertilize using 1/2 to 1 cup of cottonseed meal, organic compost or composted manure. You can also use a general purpose, slow release chemical fertilizer with a NPK Ratio of around 10-10-10. But do not make dump ferts during the hot summer months and make sure the last application is three months before your average date of first frost.
Last edited by luis_pr Jul 10, 2020 2:39 PM Icon for preview
Avatar for Lina88
May 18, 2020 7:31 AM CST
Thread OP

Thank you so much for the information! I did not even think about the white fence being an issue for heat!
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