How To Tell If Your Beloved Hydrangeas Are Dying Or Dormant

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How To Tell If Your Beloved Hydrangeas Are Dying Or Dormant

When seasons change, plants undergo cycles of growth and dormancy. Hydrangeas are known for their vibrant blooms during spring and summer but may appear to be dormant or dying during fall and winter. It can be difficult to determine whether your hydrangeas are truly dying or just resting, but there are specific signs to look out for, and actions you can take to help your plants recover from dormancy.

As a gardener, it’s natural to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when your hydrangeas are thriving. However, when your hydrangeas start to look limp and lifeless, it can be worrying. You may wonder if you’ve done something wrong or if your plants are being attacked by pests or diseases. Before you start to worry, take a step back and consider the possibility that your hydrangeas might just be undergoing a period of dormancy.

Signs that hydrangeas have entered dormancy

Hydrangea in winter

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While dormancy is natural, it can be alarming to see your hydrangeas looking lifeless. These plants go dormant in the fall leading up to winter. Hydrangeas may also go dormant due to lack of water or nutrients, extreme temperatures or weather conditions, and pests or diseases.

Signs of dormancy in hydrangeas include wilted or droopy leaves and a bare appearance, yet the stems are soft and bendy. You’ll also find buds are still there even though the plant doesn’t look vibrant and may even appear in bad shape. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important not to panic.

Dormancy is a natural part of a plant’s life cycle, and with proper care, your hydrangeas can come out of it and bloom again in the spring. To help your hydrangeas emerge from dormancy and thrive, make sure you water thoroughly, but infrequently, to encourage deep root growth. Then provide a balanced fertilizer to give your plants a nutrient boost.

How to revive dying hydrangeas

Watering hydrangeas

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Sometimes hydrangeas can die due to underlying issues. If you’ve provided proper care and your hydrangeas are still struggling, it may be time to assess the situation. Signs that your hydrangeas are dying include wilted or discolored leaves that don’t improve with watering and stems that are brittle or breaking. You may also notice no new growth or blooms, even in the spring, and your hydrangea may not respond to fertilizer.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to act quickly. Check the soil for signs of overwatering. It is also a good idea to do a test to check the health of your soil to ensure the hydrangea is getting proper nutrients. Next, consider pruning back the affected areas. This will help stimulate new plant growth. However, if despite utilizing all these tweaks, the problem persists, consider consulting with a gardening expert to get to the bottom of the problem. You’ll also want to protect your plants from extreme temperatures and weather conditions. Also, on a regular basis, inspect your plants regularly for signs of pests or diseases. Then, wait until spring to prune your hydrangeas to promote new growth.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.