Ask a Question forum→Deadheading hydrangeas

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Name: Christine
England.
Image
Chr1sty
Aug 17, 2020 8:08 AM CST
Hi all

I have 2 new hydrangeas, one isnt so bad but one isnt doing great. Am I able to dead head them to bring them on a little? Ive attached pics of them both.

Many thanks for any help.
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Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
luis_pr
Aug 17, 2020 1:58 PM CST
Hello. Yes, you can deadhead at any time. To make sure that you do not cut off the invisible flower buds (for Spring 2021) at the ends of the stems, cut the peduncle string that connects the blooms to the stems.

The plant looks like it is not getting enough water, is getting inconsistent watering or is too young and its root system cannot absorb water as fast as it needs water. Blooms should, for example only, turn from white to green then add some pink/red/purple splotches, more pinks and then brown out. They should not be going from white directly to brown.

It may not be used to much sunlight as it got in the shady plant nursery either so make sure it gets morning sun only or dappled sun.

Just a fyi: In the pots, which may be too small, you will need to amend the soil now and then to keep the soil acidic.
[Last edited by luis_pr - Aug 18, 2020 2:15 AM (+)]
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Name: Christine
England.
Image
Chr1sty
Aug 17, 2020 4:25 PM CST
Hi and thanks so much for your reply.

They are both in the sun for most of the morning, and watered every other day, they are constantly wet, to the point I am afraid I may of over watered them Sad I'm not having much luck with my hydrangeas this year, they are usually beautiful, my blue on is shocking, pic below.

Where the soil is concerned, can I add a seaweed Additive to keep the soil acidic?

Thanks


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Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
luis_pr
Aug 17, 2020 10:27 PM CST
You should usually use potting soil for ericaceous plants like azaleas, camellias and hydrangeas. If your potting soil is not acidic or it has not been amended for a while, you can use garden sulfur, aluminum sulfate, greensand or iron-chelated liquid compounds to acidify the soil per label amount & frequency directions.

The blooms on the picture above show a lacecap macrophylla with pink blooms not blue. two reasons why they may now be pink. When your soil is not sufficiently acidic -say it is either neutral or alkaline- original new-in-Spring non-white blooms change from whatever color they had at the time of purchase to a shade of pink in future years. Also, during the current year, new Spring blooms also change colors as the blooms mature... for example, from blue to a shade of greens, then shades of pinks and finally the blooms brown out.

The exact coloring changes depend on your variety, your potting soil pH and other soil nutrients. Regardless, the plant in the picture looks great shape although the lacecap blooms are starting to look pollinated and old.

Lacecap blooms like yours contain lots of fertile flowers. The fertile flowers are in the middle in the bloom. In the periphery of the blooms, what appears to be a small number of "pink flowers" is actually pink sepals (special leaves to attract pollinators). Once the fertile flowers in the middle are pollinated, the bloom begins to fade and change colors; the sepals of some varieties turn upside down; and the blooms fall apart.

Note: because I do not know the name of this variety and because I cannot gauge the dimensions of the planting pot well in pictures, you may also have to use a wider pot at some point. Many of the hydrangea macrophylla varieties can get as large as almost 2 meters.

The third picture shows some leaves with a gray-ish color that could be a sign of powdery mildew but I could not tell for sure. If confirmed, this can be addressed with any fungicide whose active ingredient is myclobutanil or by spraying a 40% milk and 60% water solution every 7-10 days to both sides of the leaves, all of the branches and all stems (discard unused solutions).

To prevent leaf spots and other fungal problems in the future, never water the leaves. Instead, water the soil and maintain the soil as evenly moist as you can (meaning, no periods of dry soil then wet, then dry again, etc). To determine if the soil needs to be watered, insert a finger into the soil to a depth of 5-10cms and water if it feels dry or almost dry. Hydrangea roots are fibrous and shallow and typically located no more than 10cms deep.

Note: the first two pictures are of a hydrangea macrophylla that produces white mophead blooms or a paniculata with panicle shaped blooms. Panicle blooms usually are white, turn a shade of pink and then change to brown. Mophead blooms consist of mostly infertile sepals with a tiny number of fertile flowers at best. As a result, these blooms last almost a year attached to the plants. Like lacecap blooms, mophead blooms will similarly age as they get older and go through a series of color changes. But they will not fall or "disintegrate" as quickly as lacecap blooms do. The white mophead blooms of your variety may normally change from white to greens to shades of pink to brown (just an example). Since the blooms are browning too early and we are in the summer, I suspect the plant aborted the blooms early due to lack of water, transplant shock, heat stress. If you stabilize the soil moisture so it is kept evenly moist, they may stop browning but it is hard to predict. Use the finger method to tell when to water.
[Last edited by luis_pr - Aug 18, 2020 2:17 AM (+)]
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Name: Christine
England.
Image
Chr1sty
Aug 18, 2020 2:08 AM CST
Good morning

The larger hydrangea is a Hydrangea Diamant Rouge, and the smaller one is a Vanille Fraise. They are planted in smaller pots as they are young, but will be repotted next spring. I am not sure if the soil is acidic, I used potting soil I purchased in bulk from a garden centre so I would say its just a standard soil, I'm not sure if it is acidic or not. Both plants were delivered as they were purchased during lockdown, the Vanille Fraise was in very good condition, but the Diamant Rouge was not happy at all, and has not recovered very well.

I do water at the roots with all my potted plants, but we have had a hot summer so the grass sprinkler has caught the leaves. Ive also had a white fly problem this year, they attacked all of my hydrangeas, so they had to be sprayed, but luckily this was before these two new hydrangeas arrived.

How can I check the acidity of the soil? Or do I just need to wait for the new blooms to see their colour? I do think the soil may be acidic as I have a tiny baby Diamant Rouge which is very very happy, its growing like mad, and its first bloom is just appearing, that is white.

Regarding the third picture of the blue/pink mop head hydrangea, am I able to deadhead this? It was a blue one I purchased last year which had full mop heads on it. This year it has grown to about 4 times its original size, I've added colourant to keep it blue, but I haven't had full mop heads. Best way to describe it is flowers around the edge and tiny flowers in the middle of the mop heads. I've never seen this before. Every head was the same and I have no clue how to conquer this.

Thanks for all your help. Hydrangeas are my favourite plant and I'm learning constantly how to look after them properly, they certainly do test me :)
Name: Christine
England.
Image
Chr1sty
Aug 18, 2020 2:24 AM CST
Sorry I didn't read your reply thoroughly, you were talking about the blue hydrangea first. I don't understand how the mop heads were full last year yet this year I have fertile flowers in the middle. This hydrangea did suffer with white fly and had to be sprayed A few times. I do not know the variety, I cannot remember, my husband potted this one and I'm unable to find the label for it. I stopped using the colourant because I didn't know if it was causing the mop heads not to fully flower, that's why they have now turned slightly pink.
Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
luis_pr
Aug 18, 2020 2:49 AM CST
Hello. I did not find a Hydrangea Diamant Rouge but I did see a hydrangea paniculata called Diamond Rouge. It gets from 1 to 1.5 meters tall. It produces panicle shaped blooms that contain both fertile and infertile flowers. It has blooms that start white, turn some shades of pink and end brown. The blooms stay attached to the plant well after the bloom has turned brown as paniculatas and oakleaf hydrangeas tend to have the thickest peduncle string of all hydrangeas.

Vanilla Fraise is a competitor to the hydrangea paniculata Strawberry Sundae.

I would not worry too much about the condition of the blooms. It is more important though that it gets TLC so it will develop a larger root system. Some people actually deadhead the blooms in year one but I never do it unless they prematurely brown out. Even then, I like to keep them as they can add some winter interest if my area gets snowed under. TLC: paniculatas can get part shade or full sun but the lacecap can only get morning sun or dappled sun; the soil should be kept as evenly moist as you can; the soil should be regularly amended in the pots to keep it acidic although they will tolerate some alkalinity. Fertilizers for ericaceous plants like azaleas contain sulfur which can help maintain the potting soil acidic. They do in my soil pH 7.6 in Texas. Fertilization note: to produce blue blooms in pots from hydrangea macrophyllas, you will also need to amend the soil with aluminum sulfate because the blue color occurs when the soil is acidic enough so the plant can absorb aluminum from the soil.

There are two ways to check the soil for acidity. You can purchase a soil test kit at plant nurseries. It is cheap, not very accurate but the bottom line is you want something to tell you when the soil is getting very alkaline and those kits will do that to some degrees. Then there is the indirect way, which is much cheaper as you do not buy anything... wait until the plan tells you! When the potting soil becomes too alkaline, the leaves start t change their color except for the leaf veins which remain dark green. The rest of the leaves turn light green, yellow and even white in extreme cases. When the soil becomes too alkaline, the plant cannot uptake iron via the roots and the leaves change as I just said. This condition is thus know as iron chlorosis. I did not see signs of iron chlorosis in the pictures.

You can deadhead the lacecap flowers at any time. But I am not sure why you saw mophead blooms last year. A hydrangea with lacecap flowers should not be able to switch bloom forms to mophead for example (or vice-versa) so, I suspect that last year, the blooms may have been more and smaller, with maybe a few more sepals which might resemble mophead blooms some more. Some plants like camellias, can slowly revert back to the type of blooms that their parents had but this would happen slowly, over several years. I have not seen this happen with hydrangeas so far. I looked again at the picture and all the blooms were lacecap form. Did you or your husband have to return/exchange the plant (exchange it for another one) after you originally brought it home? In such a case, maybe the store picked up the wrong hydrangea variety. Did you take pictures of the plant last year?
[Last edited by luis_pr - Aug 18, 2020 3:15 AM (+)]
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Name: Christine
England.
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Chr1sty
Aug 18, 2020 3:11 AM CST
Hi. I have a very distant photo of it just after it was potted last year after we planted the whole garden. Unfortunately its not very clear when you zoom in, but I will attach it anyway. Its top right in the pot. Also if you look to the right I have two more hydrangeas that I planted out of pots which look very happy, this year they haven't done too well either :(
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Name: Christine
England.
Image
Chr1sty
Aug 18, 2020 3:17 AM CST
Speaking of the mop heads changing, I have another 2 huge hydrangeas in pots that Ive had for years. For the first time this year on the larger one I have seen the same thing on the odd bloom, flowers around the outside with smaller flowers inside!! This too has had its worst year, Im thinking maybe it was the white fly spray used in the spring.
Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
luis_pr
Aug 18, 2020 3:23 AM CST
I tried enlarging but you are right, it is too distant. I could not clearly "see" the blooms. Sorry. :o(
Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
luis_pr
Aug 18, 2020 3:30 AM CST
I considered that but, chemicals that would cause in such a huge reaction would have affected the leaves as well.

Normally, chemicals tend to affect the plant parts in ways that look unnatural and the result is not "pretty". For example, a so-called witches broom at the ends of the stems made of weird looking, small, curled leaves. The look of your lacecap blooms say "pretty lacecaps flowers" not "I just got hit with this damaging chemical". ;o))

Not sure about what you were describing regarding the other two hydrangeas found elsewhere in the garden (mentioned in your last post).
[Last edited by luis_pr - Aug 18, 2020 3:33 AM (+)]
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Name: Christine
England.
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Chr1sty
Aug 18, 2020 3:32 AM CST
[Last edited by Chr1sty - Aug 18, 2020 3:33 AM (+)]
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Name: Christine
England.
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Chr1sty
Aug 18, 2020 3:34 AM CST
I see. Maybe its just the hot summer they haven't liked.
Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
luis_pr
Aug 18, 2020 3:36 AM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
Name: Christine
England.
Image
Chr1sty
Aug 18, 2020 3:39 AM CST
The two hydrangeas I have had for years have always put on a beautiful show, full dark pink mop heads. This year I've struggled with them, the blooms dying off early, even before Fading. The last week I've noticed a couple of blooms resemble the Lacecap blooms, but pink, something I've never seen on them before.
Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
luis_pr
Aug 18, 2020 3:56 AM CST
"This year I've struggled with them, the blooms dying off early, even before Fading." - could be a symptom of heat stress... in hydrangeas, heat stress takes these forms: temperatures that reach or exceed 29C; lack of water or humidity; windy conditions; too much sun.

There is a fungal disease called grey mold in hydrangeas that causes blooms to brown out but you did not mention some obvious symptoms so I did not say anything before.

Can you post pictures of the blooms you mentioned: "The last week I've noticed a couple of blooms resemble the Lacecap blooms, but pink, something I've never seen on them before."
Name: Christine
England.
Image
Chr1sty
Aug 18, 2020 4:54 AM CST
Hi. Ive attached a few pics of my big boys I've had for years Im going to deadhead them in the next few days when I can get out into the garden. This is the worst year I've had with them, they are just beautiful every year usually, but faded too soon this year. I do have new blooms coming though. Also my baby diamant rouge in front with its first flower :)
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Name: Christine
England.
Image
Chr1sty
Aug 18, 2020 4:59 AM CST
These are the ones I planted from pots last year, again not had a good year at all.

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Name: Luis
Hurst, TX, U.S.A. (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas Salvias Roses Hibiscus Plumerias
luis_pr
Aug 18, 2020 6:49 AM CST
Enjoy all those flowers. We usually get early blooms (late March or early April) plus temperatures at or above 38C from July thru September. As a result, all blooms are brown now a days but we did get some temperature assistance this year and a hurricane apparently has helped lower the temps. It did not come this way but it pushed some rains our way and I am not complaining. Hee, hee, hee!
Name: Christine
England.
Image
Chr1sty
Aug 18, 2020 7:14 AM CST
Wow, that is hot!!! I am a sun lover so I would be in my element, but I suppose that's easy to say when you haven't got to live in it!! If you like rain, come to the UK, and bring your flippers 😂 although I have to say this has been the hottest summer I've ever known, but it doesn't last very long, it hasn't stopped raining much since last week and temperatures are up and down 😕

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