If you’re a fan of hydrangeas, you know that they can make a beautiful addition to any garden. But what do you do if your potted hydrangea starts wilting? Don’t worry, there are plenty of common causes (and cures) that we’ll cover later.
In this article, we’ll discuss the causes of wilting in potted hydrangeas, how to avoid it in the future, and what to do if your plant is already affected.
There are many different types of hydrangeas, but most fall into two categories: mophead and lacecap. Mophead varieties have large, round flower heads that can be blue, pink, or purple, whereas lacecap varieties have smaller flowers with a concentric ring of petals around the center.
Hydrangeas are easy to care for and can thrive in both sunny and shady spots, but too much direct sunlight should be avoided. They prefer well-drained soil and moderate water levels, so make sure to keep an eye on your plant during periods of drought, and do your best not to overwater it.
What Causes Wilting?
As it is with many plants, wilting is an indicator of poor plant health. If you notice wilting of the leaves or of the flowers themselves, appropriate steps should be taken to determine the underlying cause and take corrective action.
There are many potential causes of wilting in hydrangeas, but some of the most common include overwatering, underwatering, drastic temperature fluctuations, root problems, over-fertilizing, and repotting at the wrong time.
1 – Overwatering
One of the most common causes of wilting in potted hydrangeas is incorrect watering. Make sure to water your plant regularly, but be careful not to overwater it.
When roots are waterlogged, they cannot properly absorb nutrients from the soil, which can lead to leaf and flower drop. If you think your plant may be overwatered, try letting the soil dry out for a few days before watering again.
Overwatering can cause the roots to rot, which will lead to wilting and eventually cause the death of the plant. Another common mistake that gardeners make is using the wrong type of soil for their plants.
If you’re having trouble keeping your hydrangea’s soil moist, try adding some organic matter such as peat moss or compost to help it retain moisture.
As a new gardener, it’s easy to overwater your plants, as it usually feels like daily watering is necessary. This is inaccurate though – you only need to water your hydrangeas every two to three days, or whenever the soil is dried out.
However, allowing the soil to dry out too often, or for too long can also lead to your hydrangeas wilting.
2 – Root Rot
Overwatering can lead to root rot. This is a condition in which the roots of your plant become waterlogged, which provides an opportunity for fungus to grow and begin to devour the roots of your hydrangeas. This is why it’s important to use a soil that drains well and to water your plants at the appropriate time.
If you think your plant may have root rot, there are a few things you can do. Remove any affected parts of the plant (including yellow or wilted parts), repot it in fresh soil, and increase air circulation around the pot by moving it to a sunnier spot or using a fan. Fungicides are also available if these measures don’t work.
When removing the affected parts of the plant, it’s crucial to sterilize your tools (gardening shears or scissors), to wear gloves, and also to sterilize the roots and the pot itself before replanting in fresh soil.
Make sure to thoroughly water after repotting, and allow enough time for the soil to dry out again before rewatering.
3 – Underwatering
Another common cause of wilting is underwatering. This occurs when not enough water is given to the plant, which will eventually lead to drooping leaves and flowers.
If you’re unsure whether or not you’re watering your plants correctly, check the weight of the pot. A heavy pot means that the soil is retaining water and there’s no need to water, whereas a light pot indicates that the plant needs more water.
When plants are underwatered, they will start to droop in an effort to conserve moisture. The first sign of underwatering is usually wilting leaves, followed by yellowing or browning of leaves, and eventually leaf drop.
If you think your plant may be underwatered, try giving it a deep watering (enough so that water begins to run out the drainage holes), and then wait a few days before watering again.
If your plant is suffering from chronic underwatering, you may need to replant it in fresh soil with better drainage. Make sure that you use soil that retains moisture well, but also drains enough to allow the roots to breathe.
Once your hydrangea is replanted, make sure to stick to a regular schedule of watering, but not so much that it becomes waterlogged.
4 – Drastic Temperature Fluctuations
Hydrangeas are also susceptible to wilting when there are large fluctuations in temperature. This can be due to a sudden change in the weather, or from being moved from a warm room into cold temperatures. When plants experience extreme changes in temperature, their cells expand and contract, which can lead to wilting.
For example, leaving your hydrangeas next to a door that gets opened regularly during the winter, the drastic change in temperature every time the door is opened may shock the plant and cause it to begin wilting.
If your hydrangea is wilting and you think it may be due to temperature fluctuations, move it back into its original environment and try increasing the humidity around it by placing a water-filled tray near the pot.
You can also mist the leaves of your plant with water if the humidity level is too low.
5 – Other Root Problems
Aside from root rot, other problems with the roots may lead to wilting of hydrangeas. Some common problems with the roots include simple injury.
This can occur during repotting if the roots aren’t handled with care. Physical damage to the roots will prevent the plant from taking up water and can eventually lead to wilting.
If you think your hydrangea’s wilting may be due to damaged roots, gently remove the plant from its pot and inspect the roots. If you see any that are damaged, cut them off with sharpened and sterilized shears or scissors.
Once you’ve removed the damaged roots, replant your hydrangea in fresh soil and water it well. You may also dust the roots with growth hormone before replanting. This will encourage healthy growth, and speed up the healing process.
6 – Over-fertilizing
Another cause of wilting in hydrangeas may be due to over-fertilizing. When a plant is given too much fertilizer, it can result in an abundance of foliage and flowers at the expense of root growth.
Fertilizing may lead to a temporary increase in foliage and flowering, but it will soon be followed by wilting. Excess nitrogen will also lead to weak stems and soft tissues, which makes the plant more susceptible to diseases and pests.
If you think your hydrangea has been over-fertilized, stop fertilizing it altogether and wait until new growth appears before resuming fertilization at half the recommended strength. You can also water less frequently since overwatering will also provide excess nutrients to the plant.
7 – Repotting at the Wrong Time
If you’re not sure when to repot your hydrangea, it’s best to wait until new growth appears in the spring. Repotting at the wrong time can cause wilting, as well as slowed or stunted growth.
During the fall and winter months, the hydrangeas are often dormant, or slowed down in growth, so if you repot them during this time, they won’t have the capacity to reset and take root again as quickly.
This is why it’s important to repot only during the spring and summer months, when their growth cycle is in full swing.
When you do decide to repot your plant, be careful not to damage the roots and make sure that the pot has good drainage. Use a soil mix that is high in organic matter and moisture-retentive.
After replanting, water thoroughly and then resume normal watering schedules.
8 – Pests or Diseases
Wilting may also be caused by other problems such as pests or diseases. If you’ve ruled out all of these possible causes and your plant is still wilting, it’s possible that pests could be the cause.
Applying an insecticide may help remedy the issue entirely, but the affected parts of the plant should also be removed.
Now that we’ve gone over some of the common causes of wilting in hydrangeas, let’s talk about how to prevent it.
One of the best ways to avoid wilting is by giving your plant the proper care it needs from the start. This includes planting it in well-draining soil, in a pot with drainage holes, and choosing a location where it will receive the right amount of sunlight.
It’s also important to water your plant properly, and not overwater it. Make sure the soil is moist but not wet, and never let the pot stand in water.
You can also increase the humidity level around your plant by placing it on a watertight tray filled with pebbles or gravel and adding water to the tray. You can also mist the leaves of your plant with water if the humidity level is too low.
Aside from proper care, you can take some other steps to help prevent wilting in hydrangeas. One is to fertilize them at half the recommended strength. This will provide enough nutrients without causing excess foliage and flowers.
You should also avoid repotting during fall and winter months when their growth cycle is slowed.
Wilting hydrangeas are a common problem, but one that can be easily fixed with the proper care. By following these tips, you can avoid wilting and keep your plants healthy and thriving.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.