Hydrangeas forum→top most buds are burning

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May 25, 2020 1:38 PM CST
Southern Ontario.
i'm losing all the top buds. plants are on the west side of the house, morning sun and afternoon for a few hours. only 2 days of hot weather so far this year. I did have to protect from frost at the beginning of may but only lost a handful of leaves, the buds wernt out then. Buds come out green and healthy then die off.

Is this just as simple as not enough water? the leaves are brilliant green, thick and waxy! only the flower buds and the top most leaves sharing the stem with the buds wilt.

Thank You!
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Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
May 25, 2020 1:58 PM CST
For climbing hydrangea, there are some possibilities like winter injury, not enough water for too long of a period or too much sun (and not that much water). Exactly where are you located?

May 25, 2020 2:03 PM CST
Cambridge Ontario.
It has been growing well and looking healthy until the buds start to mature. Its only been in the ground for 2 prior grow seasons. I havent had much luck with blooms yet, only a couple flower petals come out per bunch. I was hoping this was the year I had nice flowers! but they are withering before they bloom
Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
May 25, 2020 2:18 PM CST
Winter damage - if the plant breaks dormancy and opens flower buds (that is when you see the small broccoli heads) before late frosts/freezes, the flower buds can be zapped. On May 13th, your temps went down to 27F /-2.7C and in May 8-11 you also had frosty night temperatures. One of those dates may have been one that partially or fully zapped the blooms. You can use frost cloth when this happens, mulch the plant well and water deeply the night before the drop in temperatures. When the damage is localized near the top of the plant, I tend to suspect winter damage more than the other possibilities. Late frosts will also damage some of the leaves, either fully or partially; they will turn colors like reds, purples, orange, yellows, dark green, etc. like in picture 3.

Lack of water - try to maintain the soil as evenly moist as you can and well mulched to help prevent dryness in winter from causing issues (of course, do this after the soil thaws and there are late frosts/freezes).

Too much sun - this is probably not yet a problem in Ontario... When temperatures regularly exceed 29C, I would ratchet up the amount of water per watering from "Spring levels" to "Summer levels".
[Last edited by luis_pr - May 25, 2020 2:24 PM (+)]
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May 25, 2020 2:24 PM CST
prior to that frost i built a frame and covered with plastic. Not the best way but, due to covid restrictions, getting anything during that period from a hardware store was next to impossible and greenhouses were not yet in operation. I lost any leaves that were too close to the plastic (turned black, and only a handful of one inch leaves) but I didnt have any buds yet so i thought maybe I dodged a bullet!!!

I do have to mulch as i am noticing the top few inches dries out to dust while 3 inches down can be moist. I was hoping to wait until my ground creepers got a little stronger before lifting them on to the trellis. (first year with creepers so I was kind of excited)
Best to leave the wilted buds and leaves alone? or cut all the damaged parts off?

Thanks for your help.
[Last edited by MechTech - May 25, 2020 2:27 PM (+)]
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Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
May 25, 2020 2:31 PM CST
Leaves - As long as they are fully or partially "green", they are "preparing" and "sending" food to the roots so I would leave them and let the plant decide what to do with them long-term. Some leaves may brown out completely or in part near the edges.

Buds - if the bud is completely brown, you can cut the peduncle, the string that connects the bloom to the CH's stem/branch. If it is partially brown only then keep it and see if part of it blooms ok. I get some lacecap damage like that and sometimes the flower buds open partly brown and the green part blooms.

Plastic surfaces should not come in contact with plants that are being protected from cold. Sometimes, thick blankets help better instead, provided that the weight of the blanket is not going to break branches and stems.
[Last edited by luis_pr - May 25, 2020 2:51 PM (+)]
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May 25, 2020 2:56 PM CST
thanks for the advice.

Regarding this fall..... how much burlap for the winter is enough?
wrap the bush twice? 3 times? 10 times? Next spring I will be more prepared thats for sure!!!! That Late frost could have really been bad. My hydrangea had fully shaped leaves on it before the maple tree in the front yard had any green growth on it!

But she does do a wonderful job of blocking the view of my front step! I was worried about my Amazon packages! lol.

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Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
May 25, 2020 4:04 PM CST
You can start wrapping in burlap for protection if you wrap it at least two times. The more times you wrap it then the more protection it gets. But you also want the plant to get some air, water "through" the burlap. So a few days top is ok, specially if the plant has not broken dormancy yet. But if has foliage then you need to give it some sunlight and not keep it in the dark for long periods. I generally assume that protection will only give me a few degrees of temperature protection. If the forecast will go lower than that, my protection then will not help much.

I am exaggerating but bear with me: if burlap gives temperature protection of 2 degrees only but the temps will go down 10 degrees below freezing then burlap is not going to be useful.

My biggest problem when I see things being promoted in ads is that, very rarely, do they tell you how many degrees of protection you will get if you use the product (the burlap, a frost cloth, etc). Oh well. Enough with the complaining...


Hmm, that hydrangea does good work to block the view. If we can only be guaranteed that we will not be needing to order a lot of Amazon packages when the plant goes dormant in the Fall, that will be great!



May 25, 2020 5:21 PM CST
i haven't figured out the fall/winter amazon season but, up here the thieves seems to be fair weather ones! Thanks for sharing your knowledge, very much appreciated! I chose the hydrangea family because I knew it would need more care than a cedar hedge! I do love her and will en-devour to make her as strong as she can be! The next phase will be to expand her trellis to allow some spread! if you have any advice on making baby plants from her to transplant to my fence in my back yard, I would be forever grateful! I have a huge red maple that provides 100% bright shade back there

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