Limelight Hydrangea dying

Asked July 9, 2020, 4:21 PM EDT

I have a 6 year old Limelight Hydrangea that has some yellow leaves but half of the plant has died. The dead side of the plant had leaves but they all wilted and fell off. The other side is still green, but I am afraid the whole plant is dying. It is in a flower bed with 2 other Limelights which are OK so far and 3 Annabelle hydrangeas that are putting out blooms. Could this be a watering issue? Why would half of the plant die back?

Larimer County Colorado

7 Responses

Hello,

About watering...are they being watered? How much? How often? Is the soil moist below the shrubs? Are they mulched with wood mulch? What exposure are they in? Hydrangeas a tough plant to grow in Colorado.

Photos would help, along with some other background information. Thanks!

Hi, The hydrangea is on drip watering that runs daily. The other 5 hydrangeas are doing great so I didn't think it was the amount of water. Yesterday, I had someone check the lines and found the plant had two drip lines, but it looked like the one on the side that had died out might have been pinched by the roots....is that a thing?? He re-positioned the drip line. The plants are surrounded by rock, not mulch. They are on the northwest side of the house and get some afternoon shade and some direct sun. There are random yellow leaves on the main part of the bush and some flower buds forming. Is it possible for half of a plant to die back if half the root ball is not getting sufficient water? I am hoping the change in the drip line will address the issue and that it isn't something like a borer.

Hello,

While it's possible that roots can pinch off irrigation lines, I would be surprised this happened with hydrangea, but it's possible. It sounds like fixing the irrigation will be a good thing. I'll be interested in knowing if the plant improves.

Yes, insufficient water can affect just part of the plant. Plants and their roots are complex and it could be directly related to the lack of irrigation.

Also remember that rock can be very hot and it may reflect heat onto the plant/leaves. So water in rock mulch will be even more important. Irrigating daily may be too much, depending on how much you're applying. It might be better to group a couple days together and apply a longer period of irrigation? But that's up to you. Keep me posted!


HI, I only have about a third of the Hydrangea left now. Sections keep dying out. The part that is alive looks good, but another limb is showing signs of dying. The blooms on it are now turning brown at the tips and it's leaves are turning yellow and dropping off. I have tried more water, less water and still not sure what is wrong. The other Hydrangeas in the same bed are doing great ....a little droopy in the afternoon heat, but they seem to come back each morning.

Unfortunately, this might be a case of the wrong plant for the area. Hydrangeas just prefer more moist sites with some shade. I think that Colorado's conditions are too much for them much of the time. And this summer has been so hot. Unprecedented heat for multiple days in a row.

Gardening is a lot of trial and error...and sometimes it ends up being expensive. See how the plants do over the next few weeks and consider finding a substitute for next year if they don't return.

I know this isn't what you want to hear and I'm very sorry that the hydrangeas aren't working for you in this location.

I don't think it is a problem with the wrong plant in this location as it has done great for six years. Also the other 2 limelights and 3 Annabels are doing great in that same flower bed. They are each about 3 to 4 foot apart from each other and are beautiful. I guess I will need to cut a limb off and take it to a nursery to have it checked.

Consider our season and the obstacles we've faced. In the previous six years, we didn't have the driest January on record, a very devastating April freeze, followed by one of the hottest and driest summers on record. All of these are factors in plant performance, even though it did well for five previous summers.

I would be interested in hearing what the nursery says and what their recommendations are. Remember, we are at the end of the growing season, so any disease or fungicide treatments will not be effective. These plants will start to lose their leaves and go dormant in the next few weeks.

If the hydrangea set buds for next summer, you're in good shape. Limelight will bloom on NEW wood, meaning they will bloom on the wood formed next year from buds set this summer/fall. Annabelle is the same.

Mulch the plants well this winter and keep up the watering as best you can after the irrigation is blown out.