Hydrangea leaves curling is a matter that results from too much or too little heat, improper soil hydration, feeding issues, infestations, diseases, or herbicide injury. This can also happen when the plant is adjusting after transplanting.
Beautiful hydrangeas are among the most popular ornamental plants because they’re fast growers and can adapt to several living conditions. Read on, if you see your hydrangea leaves curling, to have the right solution.
- Why Are The Hydrangea Leaves Curl?
- How To Start Fixing Curling Hydrangea Leaves?
Why Are The Hydrangea Leaves Curl?
The hydrangea leaves cult because of too much light exposure coming on them, or because they are facing frost. It can also be caused by inadequate soil moisture, pest infestation, facing a plant disease, the spread of herbicides, feeding issues, and transplantation shock.
– Too Much Light
Seeing curling leaves on hydrangeas is expected because these plants are sensitive to temperature and light exposure. Hydrangeas thrive when they receive full sun in the early morning. Yet, the intense afternoon sun can be too much for this delicate plant, especially if you grow them without protection.
Every hydrangea leaf curls upwards and appears scorched, while darker margins can be seen. Some species, like Hydrangea paniculata, can handle more light exposure than others.
Since this plant is popular in cooler climates, it can be subject to frost, which curls the leaves. Hydrangeas start blooming in the spring and can stay in bloom all summer. Yet, a sudden decrease in the temperature can lead to frost damage, which affects most plants.
This will likely happen in the early spring when hydrangeas are still young. They’re too sensitive at this stage, so they won’t be able to tolerate temperature fluctuations, so they would stress, and this feature will be seen on the leaves.
– Inadequate Soil Moisture
Hydrangeas can survive in different soil types but require constant moisture to thrive. Growing in dry or wet soil can cause the leaves to look unhealthy and curl. These plants are intolerant of the shortest periods of drought, and the dry soil will cause leaf curling as they try to retain more moisture by reducing the leaves’ surface.
When you leave your hydrangeas in the direct sun without protection, you’ll notice the soil cracking due to the dryness, the foliage curling, and the tips looking scorched. After a while, the foliage will darken, and you can see the hydrangea leaves turning brown or black before falling off the plant, and this is an alarming sign.
Growing hydrangeas in wet soil can also affect the foliage’s health. This is usually the result of poor soil drainage and inadequate watering. In such a manner, clay or poor-draining soil doesn’t allow the water to drain correctly, and the roots will sit in the wet soil for too long, if you have placed them there.
These types of soils can lead to the formation of root rot that turns them mushy. The roots become unable to absorb the water and nutrients, and the lack of air will suffocate the plant. The leaves on your hydrangeas start to curl because they lack nourishment. When left untreated, an overwatered hydrangea will die.
– Pest Infestations
Common garden insects like aphids, four-lined plant bugs, black vine weevils, and the Japanese beetle can attack this plant. Two or more leaves start twisting, creating a pocket in the center.
The hydrangea leaf tier and the hydrangea leaf roller caterpillar represent a real threat to the hydrangea plants because they can damage the foliage significantly. A small moth lays eggs on the leaves, and the tiny larvae start forming cocoons by joining close leaves together.
So, you’ll see the deformed hydrangea leaves stuck together. You must also consider that the larvae feed on the sap of the leaves inside the cocoon and can attack flower buds, too. As a result, neglecting this infestation can kill your plant as it causes a nutrient deficiency, and the flowers won’t bloom.
– Plant Diseases
The pretty hydrangea plant is susceptible to several diseases like powdery mildew, brown spot, botrytis blight, and different types of mold. These diseases will curl the leaves and leave brown spots on them, and the diseases can also be cause hydrangea leaves turning yellow.
These diseases can quickly travel from one plant to another, ruining your whole collection of Hydrangeas in no time. Their effect isn’t strictly cosmetic, as they can kill the plant when left untreated.
Hydrangeas are sensitive to herbicides that you might use on the lawn to keep it in shape. Unfortunately, once these chemicals touch the leaves, they can cause significant damage and burn them, and when they get stressed, the leaves will curl with all ease.
The chemicals in the herbicides are absorbed by the plant and deposited in the internal tissues. They affect the leaves’ structure and ability to absorb nutrients and water. This is why it’s common to see the hydrangea leaves drooping after maintaining your lawn or using herbicides on nearby plants.
– Feeding Issues
Hydrangeas can benefit from regular feeding unless you grow them in highly fertile soil. Applying a balanced fertilizer will encourage blooming and keep the foliage looking healthy. Nevertheless, feeding issues like over or underfeeding can damage the leaves and make them curl, because it won’t be as sufficient as it should be.
Choosing the type of fertilizer you apply also impacts the leaves of your beautifully blooming plant. You should also select the right time to feel your plants to avoid issues like the curling and burning of the leaves.
– Transplant Shock
Hydrangeas might struggle to cope with transplanting, especially if you don’t choose the right time of the year. When grown in nurseries, these plants grow under very controlled conditions, and transplanting them into your garden or backyard will shock the plant.
Due to the transplant stress, it’s common to see curled leaves on your plant. The leaves can also turn yellow or become too crisp because of the sudden change.
How To Start Fixing Curling Hydrangea Leaves?
To start fixing curling hydrangea leaves, you should adjust the lighting conditions, and plant them at the right time. You must also make sure to change the soil moisture, and get rid of the insects and diseases that would hinder their growth, fertilize adequately, and provide post-transplantation care.
– Adjust Lighting Conditions
Adjusting light and heat exposure while watering adequately nourishes the plant and keeps the foliage in good shape. Depending on your climate and location, you should pick the right spot to grow your hydrangeas. These plants thrive in full indirect sunlight and can tolerate full sun if you’re growing them in a cooler temperature.
However, excessive sunlight can crisp the plant and curl the leaves in a hot climate. To fix this problem, you can grow your hydrangeas under a garden umbrella or the shade of a tall tree. Yet, you shouldn’t shade your hydrangeas too much because they still need access to sunlight.
– Plant At the Right Time
Hydrangeas should be planted at the right time to avoid damage from dropping temperatures and frost. Younger plants are more susceptible to injury, which affects the young leaves and make them curl and turn black before falling off the plant. It can also influence the inflorescence buds and prevent blooming if you grow them indoors.
Once frost has damaged your plants, nothing can reverse its effect. You should remove all the damaged leaves; your plant might not bloom because the buds are damaged. But, your hydrangea will recover in the summer and grow healthy and lush foliage.
If you’re worried about frost in your area after you’ve planted your hydrangeas, you can use garden fabric. It retains the soil’s warmth and protects plants from frost, and this way they will not be as stressed.
– Adjust Soil Moisture
Inadequate soil moisture can happen because you’re growing your plants in poor-draining soil. Hydrangeas are so sensitive to soil conditions, especially the pH level, which can affect the blooms’ color.
Poor drainage and overwatering won’t only curl the plant leaves but can kill them. The root rot prevents the plant from absorbing nutrients to survive, and now you will see that the hydrangeas will become weak and will collapse.
If your area has regular rainfall, you won’t have to water your hydrangeas that often. Otherwise, you should give them a deep watering once or twice weekly. Light watering doesn’t work for these delicate plants, as the roots should be kept moist in water-saturated, waterlogged soil.
You can examine the soil moisture by digging your finger up to four inches into the soil. If it feels dry, you should water your plants. On the contrary, in hot weather, you should water your hydrangeas more often.
– Get Rid of Insects
Insects are usually the culprit behind foliage deformation in your hydrangeas. Sap-sucking insects like aphids, spider mites, and hydrangea leaf tiers can ruin the look of the foliage and prevent your plant from blooming.
Removing leaf tiers by hand is recommended, and you should remove all the deformed leaves to get rid of the larvae, even if you must remove the infected flowers. Your plant might not bloom, but it will be able to recover, as all the infected foliage and blooms should be burned to prevent future infestations.
Soft-bodied pests can be treated with neem or horticulture oil. You can also apply insecticidal soap to kill the bugs. If they’re big enough, you can remove them by hand and use a suitable treatment to prevent them from damaging your plant.
– Deal With Diseases
Mold, fungal and viral diseases can affect your hydrangeas if you don’t clean your garden regularly. Some pathogens can be present in the soil and will travel up the plants to harm them. In such a case, the fungal diseases and mold can be avoided by eliminating infected plants and removing debris in your garden.
If your hydrangea is sick, you can use a copper-based fungicide, so keep in mind that a viral infection is rare, but it has a more significant impact on your plant. Tackling it will help develop your plant again.
Unfortunately, seeing leaf spots isn’t reversible because these diseases can’t be cured, but you should remove the sick leaves to prevent the disease from spreading. Although herbicides can benefit your lawn, they can have an adverse effect on your hydrangeas. Avoiding them altogether or applying them away from these delicate plants is best.
– Fertilize Adequately
If you’re growing your hydrangeas in rich, fertile soil, you don’t have to amend it. However, your plant will have deformed leaves if the soil lacks essential nutrients like phosphorus and calcium. Which is why a lack of phosphorus can also prevent the roots from absorbing vital nutrients, and the foliage will become discolored, and you will see white edges on hydrangea leaves.
Adding compost helps increase the acidity of the soil to keep your plants healthy. It also provides hydrangeas with the needed nutrients. On the other hand, a nitrogen-rich fertilizer can encourage foliage growth, but you should also be cautious to see them blooming.
You should provide your hydrangeas with a slow-release fertilizer in the spring to control the amount dissolved in the soil. You can choose an all-purpose fertilizer or one that works for flowering plants. You can reapply fertilizer in the mid-summer, but avoid feeding in winter because the extra salts will harm the plant.
– Provide Post-transplantation Care
It’s pretty standard for hydrangeas to curl after being transplanted in your garden. As the plants leave the controlled nursery environment, they suffer a little and can become stressed.
If you’re moving the plants in your garden, you should pick one that has an extensive and well-established root system. Young plants are too weak to survive transplanting and will eventually collapse.
Handle the plants as gently as possible and avoid damaging the root system. You should provide newly transplanted hydrangeas with shade by adequately installing a little greenhouse if you wish and water them well.
Hydrangea’s foliage will curl when the plant is stressed, so here is a short recap of what we covered in this article:
- Hot temperatures and frost can be the culprit if the leaves are curling. The curled foliage of your hydrangeas can be saved. Insect-infested leaves should be removed because they can spread the infection among healthy plants.
- Too much sun exposure and inadequate watering or feeding can also harm the plant and cause the leaves to curl.
- Improper watering and feeding can also make the foliage curl, or the plant might be adjusting after transplanting.
- Insects can deform the leaves, and diseases make the foliage curl.
- Young plants can have curled leaves after transplanting.
Understanding how delicate your hydrangea is essential because this plant can’t handle changes very well. You should also maintain consistent, appropriate growing conditions to encourage your hydrangea to bloom.
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