4 Common Problems With Hydrangeas - Backyard Boss
We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.

4 Common Problems With Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are gorgeous flowers that can brighten up any garden or landscape. And, if you’ve ever tried to grow hydrangeas, you know that they can be a little bit tricky. The soil needs to be just right and a simple change in pH could even change the color of the petals. This isn’t meant to scare you, as a gardener you should embrace the challenge!

But, there are a few common problems you should be aware of before planting them around the garden. If you’re thinking about adding some hydrangeas to your yard, be sure to read on! Here are some of the most common issues and how to fix them.

No Summer Blooms

When it comes to flowering shrubs, few are as popular as hydrangeas. With their large, showy blooms, they add a touch of elegance to any garden. Unfortunately, a lack of blooms can sometimes be a problem for these lovely plants. Here are a few reasons why.

Over Pruning

Pruning of dried flowers in the autumn garden. A gardener cuts a perennial hydrangea bush in his garden during the autumn season.
Image credits: Tequiero via Shutterstock

Over-pruning is a common problem among gardeners with a plethora of hydrangeas. Unfortunately, if you make this mistake it can often lead to a lack of blooms for a season.

When pruning hydrangeas, it is important to only remove dead or diseased wood, cleaning you pruning shears between each cut to reduce the risk of spreading disease. You should also trim back any crossed or rubbing branches, cutting about one third of the ways down. Be careful not to over-prune, as this can stimulate too much new growth at the expense of flower buds.

Pro Tip: Cut your hydrangeas at an angle to stop water from pooling on the tip of the stem. This can lead to disease.

Pruning During The Wrong Season

Seedhead of mophead hydrangea flower ready for pruning against background of English ivy hedera
Image credits: Michelle Le Grand via Shutterstock

One of the most common problems people run into with their hydrangeas is pruning them at the wrong time of year. While it’s important to prune your hydrangeas regularly, you need to be careful about when you do it. Pruning too early or too late in the season can damage the plant and cause it to produce fewer to no blooms.

In order to start you first need to know what variety of hydrangeas you have and whether they grow on old or new wood. Some plants that grow on new wood benefit from early spring or late winter pruning, such as Smooth. Others that grow on old wood, like Oakleaf, should be pruned immediately after blooming.

Pruning at the right time will encourage the plant to produce more flowers. If you do this task at the wrong time, you run the risk of cutting off the flower buds that have already formed. This can lead to a disappointing lack of blooms come summertime.

Late Frost

Frost on hydrangeas
Image credits: tbmnk via Shutterstock

A late frost can damage the buds of hydrangeas, leading to a lack of blooms. This is a common problem in areas with cold spring weather. If you live in such an place, there are a few things you can do to protect your plants.

Covering them with a sheet or tarp during cold nights can help prevent frost damage. You can also mulch to retain some heat. In severe cases, you may need to use grow lights to provide additional warmth.

If your hydrangea does suffer from frost damage, don’t despair. Water your hydrangea thoroughly and prune it carefully. You’re looking to cut off any damaged buds and leaves. The plant will likely produce new buds later in the season, albeit fewer. With a little care, your hydrangeas will be blooming beautifully in no time.


Image credits: egiss via Canva

Over-fertilization is a common problem with hydrangeas and can lead to a lack of blooms. This is because too much nitrogen-rich fertilizer can cause the plant to produce more leaves and fewer flowers.

If you think your hydrangea is not blooming as it should, it is possible that it is getting too much fertilizer. Try cutting back on the amount of nitrogen fertilizer you are using or switch to a balanced fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.


Whitetailed Deer fawns
Image credits: EEI_Tony via Canva

Hydrangeas are one of the most popular flowering shrubs, but their large size and showy flowers make them a tasty treat for deer. If you live in an area with a high deer population, you may have noticed that your hydrangeas blooms are missing.

There are a few things you can do to deter deer from eating your hydrangeas. You can try fencing the area around the plant, or you can apply a deer repellent to the leaves. You will need to reapply the repellent every few weeks, or after it rains, to keep the deer away. You can also use plants that have a reputation of repelling deer such as bee balm, marigolds, and lambs ear.

If you have a serious deer problem, you may need to consult with a wildlife control specialist to find a more permanent solution. In some cases, it may be necessary to trap and remove the deer from the area. This should be done only as a last resort, as it is illegal in some states to kill or injure deer.

Wilting Leaves

Image by F.D. Richards via Flickr

When it comes to wilting leaves on hydrangeas, there are a few things that can cause this problem. These are two of the most common offenders:

Drought and Heat Stress

Drought and heat stress can be a very big problem for hydrangeas. The main symptom of these problems is wilting leaves, caused by a lack of water or excessive heat. If your hydrangea’s leaves are wilting, it’s important to take action immediately to prevent further damage.

There are a few things you can do to help your hydrangeas during these hard times:

  • Water deeply and regularly, especially during dry or hot weather.
  • Mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture.
  • Provide shade for your hydrangea during periods of excessive heat.

If you take these steps, you can help your hydrangeas avoid drought and heat stress. With proper care, your hydrangea will continue to thrive and provide you with beautiful blooms for years to come.


Leaf spot on hydrangea leaves
Image credits: Thippawan NZ via Shutterstock

Unfortunately, these lovely plants are susceptible to a number of diseases. Here is a look at two of the most common illnesses to fall upon these gorgeous flowers.

Bacterial and Fungal Leaf Spot

Bacterial leaf spot and fungal leaf spot can be serious problems for hydrangeas, especially for the Oakleaf variety. The spots are unsightly and may kill the plant. There are several things you can do to reduce the chances of your plant getting bacterial and fungal leaf spot. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose a healthy plant to start with. Leaf spot is more likely to occur in plants that are already stressed or weakened.
  2. Make sure your plant has plenty of space to breathe. Good air circulation will help prevent the spread of bacteria and fungus.
  3. Water your plant at the base rather than from above to avoid wetting the leaves.
  4. Remove any affected leaves as soon as you see them. This will help prevent the spread of leaf spot to other parts of the plant. Make sure to clean your shears between each cut!
  5. Use a fungicide specifically designed to treat leaf spot.


Cottony Camellia Scale on a hydrangea branch
Image credits: Floki via Shutterstock

It’s pretty common for pests to target hydrangeas. This pest can cause a lot of damage to your plant, so it’s important to be on the lookout for them.

Cottony Camellia Scale

Cottony camellia scale is a type of scale insect that affects hydrangeas. The insects are small, oval-shaped, and covered in a white, waxy substance. They feed on the sap of the plant, causing the leaves to turn yellow and fall off. The stems may also become distorted. In severe cases, the plant may die.

There are several ways to control cottony camellia scale. You can remove them by hand or with a sharp implement such as a knife or scissors. You can also treat the affected plants with an insecticide. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully or ask your local nursery.

It’ll All Be Worth It

If you’re thinking about planting a few of these beautiful flowers in your garden this year, remember they can be tricky. But, with a little bit of know-how, you can make them thrive in your landscape.

Make sure to leave your tips and tricks in the comments below!