Hydrangea Flowers Turning Brown [Reasons and Solutions]

Hydrangeas have a reputation for being undeniably beautiful. Some gardeners struggle with browning issues, but the reasons are hardly complicated, and each has an easy fix.

Hydrangea flowers turn brown when one or all of their needs aren’t met. Ensure your shrubs get enough sunlight and water. Hydrangeas like slightly acidic soil, so doing a soil test or planting your hydrangeas in potting mix balanced for their needs will help. A watering schedule is also helpful.

The rest of this article will give you all the information you need to keep your hydrangeas from turning brown. I’ll also share which hydrangeas grow well in different hardiness zones and how best to maintain them.

Hydrangea Turning Brown

Reasons and Solutions

If you notice your hydrangeas turning brown, you’re definitely doing something wrong because these flowers aren’t fussy. Once you’ve identified the cause of the browning, you should act immediately. Here’s what’s possibly bringing about the color change:

Your Hydrangeas Are Growing in Full Sun

Extended exposure to direct sunlight could cause leaf browning.

While some hydrangeas enjoy full sun, partially shaded spots work better for these flowers. An area that catches morning rays and only receives direct sunlight for four to six hours a day is ideal. When temperatures start to rise, your hydrangea should be protected by shade.

Hot weather can scorch hydrangea leaves. The soil around your plants will also dry up quicker. If your hydrangea experiences dehydration, its leaves will wilt and turn brown.

You can fix sunlight issues by moving your hydrangea to a different area in your yard. Planting your hydrangea in a container or in a pot base with wheels will make it easier to move around as needed. If you choose to replant your hydrangea in a different spot, wait until fall or spring to do this.

Your Hydrangea Is Experiencing Repotting Shock

Replanting or potting your hydrangea to protect it from harsh sunlight is an excellent solution to browning, but it can lead to more complications. Repotting shock is also common when bringing your plants home from their nursery.

Hydrangeas can have trouble adjusting to a new environment. The stress they experience can cause droopy or brown leaves. Another reason this happens when replanting these flowers is a lack of moisture or nutrients.

To avoid repotting shock, leave your hydrangea in its nursery pot for a few days after bringing it home. You can still place it in the spot you’ve picked for it. Once you’re ready to transplant your hydrangea into the ground or a bigger pot, gently loosen its root. This will help the root ball absorb more water.

It would help if you kept your hydrangea watered within the first few days after replanting. Young, growing hydrangeas need moist soil to properly establish.

Your Hydrangeas Aren’t Moistured Properly

Hydrangeas thrive in moist soil. If you live in a primarily sunny state, your hydrangeas’ leaves and flowers will lose water quickly. While plants are fairly good at adjusting to their environment, an inconsistent watering schedule could throw your hydrangeas off.

If you water on the surface, your plants will also have trouble getting enough moisture.

Although these plants are thirsty, it’s possible to overwater them. Hydrangeas can wilt and turn brown if they receive too much water, likewise when receiving too little. You should stick to a strict watering schedule to ensure the soil holds just enough moisture between watering days.

If you notice browning leaves on your hydrangeas, water them in the morning or evening. Watering at midday can lead to overwatering since plant leaves typically look a little wilted at this time.

You can also soak your hydrangeas instead of watering them if they’re planted in pots. To do this, simply submerge them bloom in the water a few days per week. Doing this for about an hour per session will keep your plants hydrated.

The Soil Around Your Hydrangeas Isn’t Balanced

Synthetic fertilizers can cause fertilizer burn. If the one you use is too strong or you give a higher dose than instructed, your hydrangea can develop browning flowers and leaf edges. Fertilizing the soil while it’s dry can also lead to burning issues.

You should ensure your hydrangea is hydrated before fertilizing it and use a fertilizer formulated for this plant. Slow-release fertilizers have a decreased risk of causing damage, but if you opt for a fast-release one, spread it lightly in March, May, and July.

Organic fertilizers have a better track record than synthetic ones. You can purchase these at your local nursery or make your own. Besides nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, hydrangeas also need magnesium and calcium. Bone meal, leaf mold, and vegetable scraps are good sources of these nutrients.

The Best States for Healthy Hydrangea Growth

Ideal growing conditions can help prevent hydrangea leaves from turning brown. These perennials grow best in hardiness zones 3 to 7, and if you pick the right spot in your yard, you’ll have nothing to worry about. Hydrangeas in full bloom can be the centerpiece of your garden if they look healthy.

Growing Hydrangeas in Hardiness Zone 3: Minnesota

Minnesota has harsh winters. You need to plant hydrangeas that can successfully overwinter but also tolerate the sun well when in bloom.

The summers in Zone 3 can become extremely hot and dry. Some excellent species for Minnesota include the Annabelle, Grandiflora, intermedia, and limelight hydrangeas.

To prevent browning leaves in zone 3, ensure your hydrangeas are planted in a partly shaded spot. The soil should drain quickly, although you need to keep it moist. Ditch synthetic fertilizers in this zone. Instead, spread organic compost around your hydrangeas in a layer about one inch (25 mm) thick. This is best done during spring.

Growing Hydrangeas in Hardiness Zone 4: Arizona

The best way to plant hydrangeas in Zone 4 is under shady trees. Hydrangeas are heat-tolerant and do better when receiving morning sun while enjoying protection when the sun is scorching hot in the afternoons.

You can choose between bigleaf, oakleaf, panicle, and smooth hydrangeas if you live in Arizona. These hydrangea species need five to six hours of sunlight daily, so don’t plant them in full shade.

Ensure you keep the soil your hydrangeas grow in moist in this zone. They can brown on days with extreme temperature highs. Hydrangeas prefer mild temperatures and humidity. If they experience a few hot, dry days without enough water, they can wilt and turn brown.

Growing Hydrangeas in Hardiness Zone 5: Nebraska

Hydrangeas in zone 5 need special protection. They won’t thrive without good soil and enough water in states like Nebraska. Species to choose from for this region include the Annabelle, limelight, little quickfire, and panicle hydrangea.

They’re all gorgeous, and if you meet their needs consistently, these hydrangeas will be free from brown spots throughout the growing season.

Zone 5 is all about heating. Hydrangeas don’t do well in scorching direct sunlight, so you should keep the ground around your plants wet. You can add organic material like peat moss or coconut coir if your soil drains fast to ensure it keeps moisture.

Doing this will help your plant roots absorb enough water and nutrients, keeping your hydrangeas healthy.

Growing Hydrangeas in Hardiness Zone 6: West Virginia

West Virginia has acidic soil, making it perfect for hydrangeas. Species like the Annabelle, bigleaf, oakleaf, and panicle hydrangeas can withstand the temperatures in this region and produce flowers that will color your garden beautifully. Choose a location that receives partial shade.

If you keep a strict watering schedule, your hydrangeas will survive the heat zone 6 experiences on particularly sunny days. Avoid shallow watering daily. Instead, submerge your potted hydrangeas or create a pool around grounded plants if your soil drains well. Without enough water, hydrangea leaves can become droopy, brown, and even die.

Growing Hydrangeas in Hardiness Zone 7: Texas

The best place to plant hydrangeas if you’re living in Texas is on the East side of your house. Plant them under a tree canopy if there isn’t an ideal spot.

This will ensure your plants receive morning sunlight and an afternoon breeze to cool them off. Texas tends to get scorching hot, so providing your hydrangeas with coolness is a must.

Oakleaf, panicle, perigee, and French hydrangeas grow best in Zone 7 states. All species are breathtaking when their leaves aren’t wilted. Some can even be trained into a tree! You should keep the pH and aluminum levels of your plant’s soil balanced to help them retain colorful flowers. If you give them everything they need to stay healthy, you won’t have any browning issues.

Pink Hydrangea (Paniculata) Shrub Flower Live Plant - 18 inch Height for Yards and Home Garden Decoration


Keep the hardiness of each hydrangea species in mind when choosing one or more for your garden. Planting hydrangeas compatible with your zone’s climate and soil conditions will keep you ahead of browning. Then, the only thing left to keep your flowers lively is adequate watering.

Still, you don’t need to choose a hydrangea indigenous to your state to see it thrive. As long as you meet its demands, you’ll have show-stopping displays when they’re in bloom. Hydrangeas are one of the most popular shrubs – and with good reason!

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