Ask a Question forum: I think my hydrangeas are dying

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Dec 3, 2016 10:33 PM CST
Hi, I bought a hydrangea and had it potted at a nursery just a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, after about an hour in a very, very hot car is started to wilt and brown. I watered it that evening, left it alone the next day so as not to overwater it, then watered it again this morning. Some of the petals are continuing to brown and turn crispy and the leaves are worsening. I am a total novice, so I'm not sure what to do - if I continue to water it every other day, will it turn around, or should I take extra steps? It's on a balcony that gets a few hours of sun of a morning, then sits in shade of an afternoon. Thank you.
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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Dec 4, 2016 6:33 AM CST
Welcome! You won't be able to turn around the crispy parts so be careful not to overwater it. The other green leaves don't appear to be wilting so it doesn't look like it has insufficient water. The surrounding brickwork is exposing it to more heat that it soaks up from the sun but whether that's a good thing or a bad thing at this time of year is hard to say without knowing where you are located.

I assume it was potted in a more traditional pot and you had them put it in the decorative one? It would help to know what your plans are. Was it just a temporary decoration to be thrown away fairly soon when the flowers are finished or are you thinking to keep it until next year? Hydrangeas grow quite large (assuming it is hardy in your area) so eventually will need repotting into a larger pot if you're keeping it long term. The shape of pot you have it in now will make that difficult without significant root damage because the narrower top will prevent the rootball from sliding out.

If you can let us know where you are and what your goal is with the plant we may be able to help more but in the meantime, again, do be careful not to over-water it. You may as well remove any totally crispy leaves.

Edited to add another question, was this hydrangea growing outdoors at the nursery or in a greenhouse? If the latter it will also be adjusting to living outside on your balcony.

[Last edited by sooby - Dec 4, 2016 6:38 AM (+)]
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Dec 4, 2016 5:36 PM CST
Hi Sooby, thanks for your help! Should I remove crispy leaves by cutting them at their base, and should I do the same with crispy petals?

I'm in Sydney, Australia. I was hoping to keep the hydrangea full-time, the pot was recommended to me at the nursery and I had no idea it would be a problem! Would it be better to repot the hydrangea now, before it becomes any larger? Or will it likely damage the roots regardless?
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Dec 4, 2016 5:56 PM CST
I would cut the leaves at the base if you try tugging one and it doesn't easily break away. Be careful not to cut into the main stem, just the leaf stalk. I might leave the flower bracts (they're actually not petals) as it might look better that way but up to you. Do you know if the pot is the same shape inside as outside? I'm wondering now if it tapers like a normal shaped pot inside but is rounded on the outside. I think if it isn't tapered inside I would repot it sooner rather than later before the roots spread out to the "fat" middle because once the rootball takes on the shape of the pot it will be hard to get it out when and if you want to move up to a larger pot. That's just from my experience of trying to get plants out of such a pot - someone else might have alternative suggestions.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
Dec 6, 2016 6:39 PM CST
A picture is worth a thousand words. If That isn't possible, to make it your new pot wider at the top than the bottom, or even straight? Some of those beautiful urn shaped pots where the lip curves in, are impossible to get a crowded plant out of when the time comes
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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Dec 6, 2016 8:53 PM CST
Another problem you might be having is the summer sun. In Australia you are just coming along to the hottest time of the year.

Hydrangeas are shade plants. I would definitely move the plant after you have re-potted it to a shady location. It needs good light, but a place shaded by trees would be best. Otherwise, if it just gets a little sun in the morning or late afternoon even that would be better.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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