Good morning! Have two hydrangeas that were planted in late July. They get at...

Asked October 10, 2014, 9:38 AM EDT

Good morning! Have two hydrangeas that were planted in late July. They get at least half a day of full sun. Spots appeared on leaves shortly after planting, that were attributed to watering with a oscillating sprayer, and then having the sun burn the leaves where the water was sitting. However, I got a soaker hose, and haven't watered with the oscillating sprinkler since end of August. The plants look even worse now and I am not sure what to do. Anything you can suggest? Thank you

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

While your plant looks stressed, this does not look too concerning. It is coming to the end of the growing season when leaves of all kinds look pretty tired.
There are a combination of factors possibly happening here. The leaf spots are not caused by the watering, but by leaf spot diseases, which hydrangeas commonly get. It also could have some sun scorch, and looks as if it may have had some watering issues-either too much, but more likely too little. Be sure that your drip irrigation covers the entirety of the rootball. Check that it's getting what you think it is by using a screwdriver to dip down into the soil, and then check with your finger that the soil is moist and cool. You may want to run drips on both sides or around this plant. Your use of mulch is a good one. It should not be deeper than 2-3 inches, and pull it back from the crowns/bark of your plants.
As the leaves die and fall off this fall, pick them up and throw them away so there will be less disease pathogen in the yard next year.
The thorough watering of newly establishing plants should continue right up until the ground freezes solid for the winter, and resume in the spring. Keep new plants watered well for the first 2 years.