Does this hydrangea have a disease?

Asked May 23, 2018, 10:24 AM EDT

I have three Baby Lace Hydrangeas in the front of my house I planted about 4 years ago and they grew into beautiful plants that bloomed beautifully and were very striking. These pictures are from last year. Last year I noticed 1 stopped growing and the leaves on 2 main branches starts drying up and dying. All 3 have had the same care and I use pine mulch not wood mulch. I see no signs of insects or mildew This year only about 1/5th of the plant is leafing out. I did order a replacement bush but am wondering if I should have this declining plant tested first before planting a healthy bush in the same hole? Any advice or ideas of what the problem is would be appreciated. Thank you, Karen

Clinton County Michigan hydrangea flowers: annuals and herbaceous perennials

1 Response


This localized wilting can have several causes. Armillaria (aka mushroom) root rot, Phytophthora root rot, or vole feeding damage are some causes. Yes, I would have an arborist out to examine the roots on site. On the same visit you may want to include examination of your other trees and shrubs, if included in the basic fee.

You can find certified arborists in your zip code area by searching here—-

Here are references for you. If you are confident in diagnosing your plants yourself, you can use the details given here to examine the soil area around the roots, the roots, the crown and under the bark—-

Voles “Voles, also called meadow mice, feed all winter by gnawing on bark or plant crowns and most any other plant, seed, bulb or rhizome they can find. Voles are stocky little rodents about 5-7 inches long with a short tail and small ears and eyes. Fur color ranges from gray to brown. They make characteristic surface runways often seen after a snow melt. Voles eat the crowns of perennials such as hosta to leave carcasses of stems and hollowed out plant crowns. Vole feeding often girdles branches, trunks and roots, which can kill trees and shrubs if the damage is extensive. Luckily rabbits and voles are favorite food of many predators such as owls and hawks but winter damage may still occur.

Repellants for voles have not shown consistent results but may be worth a try. Voles can be managed with mouse snap traps baited with peanut butter-oatmeal mixture or apple slices in their runs. To protect the traps from other creatures cover traps with inverted coffee cans with entry holes for the voles.” Also see link for pictures-

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