Hydrangeas are beautiful flowers that bloom in an array of colors and a variety of different sizes, so it can certainly be discouraging if you’ve planted hydrangeas that are struggling to produce any growth. The leading causes of stunted growth relate to indoor and outdoor planting environments.
Your hydrangea is not growing mainly due to the location you choose to plant your flowers. The ideal growing location and environment should offer adequate sunlight, water, and a relatively warm climate to bloom successfully. Hydrangeas also need specific pruning and maintenance to thrive.
The hydrangea species has many other unique needs, highlighting the potential differences between these types of flowers. In this article, I will explore the sun, water, and temperatures hydrangeas need to thrive—and what other steps you can take to promote plant growth.
Environmental challenges are hydrangeas’ most significant obstacle to successful growth and flowering. However, that isn’t the only problem they can encounter. There are three main environmental challenges to consider for hydrangea care.
Hydrangeas are quite a sensitive species, needing at least four to six hours of indirect sunlight daily. If it’s getting unfiltered, direct light, the plant can burn; on the flip side, if it is not getting enough light, it will stunt its growth.
For those new to the hydrangea species, it can be challenging to figure out where to place your flower and where it will get the right amount of light daily.
Generally, if your plant is south facing, it may get too much light since the south side gets sun from morning to night. If it’s facing the north, it likely won’t get enough sun, and hydrangeas are not very shade-tolerant. Your hydrangea, therefore, should not face north or south.
East and west-facing plants get sunlight at opposite times. East-facing plants will get soft morning sunlight, while those facing west will get direct sunlight from the afternoon sun. With this in mind, hydrangeas should face the east, where they won’t get burnt by the harsh afternoon sun.
Planting your flowers on the east side of your home (for outdoor gardens) or placing them in east-facing windows will ensure the hydrangeas have the most growing success. Suppose, for whatever reason, neither of these options is available to you.
In that case, the best purchase to invest in is the Ajepcil Grow Light for Indoor Plants (available on Amazon.com), which can provide your flower with any sunlight you may lack.
There are very few soil-grown plants that can tolerate sitting in excessive water. When this happens—you’ve overwatered your hydrangea—the roots can rot, eventually killing the entire plant.
Plant death can also occur if your hydrangea doesn’t get enough water. If the plant is blackening in color, you’ll know this is the issue.
The telltale sign of a hydrangea not getting enough water is wilting leaves. The flowers will droop and lose petals, browning over time. You’ll also notice that the soil will be bone dry by sticking your finger into the growing medium—at least up to your knuckle. The knuckle trick is easy to determine whether you need to water your plant.
Overall, you should water your plant with about 1 inch (25.4 mm) of water per week. After the math, that equals roughly .15 cm (0.19 in) daily, meaning hydrangeas don’t need deep watering daily.
Instead, they need light sips of water with a good drink three times a week. If you have recently planted your flowers, they will need extra water to help the roots set.
The easiest trick to mastering a good watering schedule is incorporating it into your weekly routine. Feeding your hydrangea every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday will ensure your plant gets enough water. The XLUX Soil Moisture Meter (available on Amazon.com) is an excellent gadget for reliability and accuracy in checking the moisture level of your plant’s soil.
If maintaining a regular watering schedule is difficult, there are automatic watering systems to help with this problem, such as the Rainpoint Auto Watering System (available on Amazon.com).
The system uses a timer to inject water through a tube into the plant’s soil, and you can set it up to water multiple plants at a time, even if you are out of the house on errands!
The third most significant issue that may cause your hydrangea to stop growing is the temperature of the climate of your planting area. Hydrangeas do not like cold temperatures and prefer moist, warm environments to grow in.
Hardiness is the term used to describe how climate-appropriate a specific plant is for your location (if growing outdoors). There are thirteen hardiness zones throughout the United States— most hydrangeas thrive in zones three to seven, at ideal growth temperatures of 59-64℉. (15–18°C).
The best states in America with hardiness zones between 3 and 7 are the following:
- North and South Dakota
These states are along the upper coast of the country—the outer lying states become less environmentally friendly for the hydrangea to go the farther away they lie.
Aside from potting your flowers and keeping them inside where it’s warm, there isn’t much you can do about outdoor climates. If you know you live in a cooler area, choose to put your hydrangeas in an east-facing window versus planting them outside in the garden.
Draping a sheet over your plant in cooler weather will help insulate it and retain heat and moisture. Mulch is another option. Mulch refers to decaying leaves or compost placed over a plant’s soil to help protect it.
Suppose these aren’t options– there are also electrical products that can keep a plant toasty warm. For example, the YLYYCC Graphene Heat Mat (available on Amazon.com) maintains heat between -60 to 60°F (-51.11 – 15.55°C), which is adequate for hydrangeas.
Environmental challenges aren’t the only ones that hydrangea owners can face when discovering how to grow a lovely, healthy flower. Some other causes include:
- Nutrient-deficient soil: Hydrangeas grow best in soil that is rich in nutrients. Your flower’s soil should provide phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium.
- Too much pruning: If you Prune your plant too often and too soon—it can discourage growth. Only prune your hydrangea once the first flowers have begun to die.
- Transplant shock: If you’ve recently transplanted your hydrangea, the shock could prevent the plant from flowering. Keep the plant’s soil moist to help the adjustment.
- Too young: New hydrangeas can skip the first year of flowering, especially if recovering from transplant shock. Continue caring for your plant as usual.
- Stress: If your hydrangea is otherwise stressed, all the flower’s energy will go to recovering versus growing and blooming. Continue caring for your plant as usual.
- Planted too early: Planting your hydrangea too early in the growing season will affect your plant growth.
- Root bound: If your flower is root bound, the roots have grown amongst each other due to reduced space in a pot. Unpot your hydrangea and move it to a pot at least ½ inch (12.7 mm) bigger.
Solving Stunted Hydrangea Growth
As you can see, there are various reasons why your hydrangea plant might not be growing correctly; there are also multiple solutions! Each problem requires some careful observation and analysis to diagnose the situation appropriately.
Once you know what the issue is, you’ll be able to find the best solution easier, and luckily, most are relatively simple to solve.
Keeping a watch over your hydrangeas as they grow can often solve a growth issue before it properly takes hold. If your hydrangea is generally not browning, wilting, or showing signs of decay, the care you’re providing is adequate. You only need patience for the plant to settle and begin its flowering process.
Otherwise, you should close;y monitor any leaf discoloration or signs of pests or ill health, and you should address these issues as they arise.
Another essential thing to consider is that hydrangeas are a massive species with countless different types of plants with differing needs. For example, the Mophead hydrangea can survive in colder temperatures, but Oakleaf hydrangeas need the hot summer sun to bloom.
So, learning about the specific hydrangea flower can also help to improve care and prevent plant illness.
The Hydrangea Book by Michael A. Dirr (available on Amazon.com) is an informative guide that will help you navigate the world of this beautiful flowering plant. The Heavenly Hydrangeas: A Practical Guide for the Home Gardener by Joan Harrison (also available on Amazon.com) is another recommended guide to preparing, planting, and maintaining this species.
The most common reasons for stunted growth in hydrangeas are environmental; too much or little sun, water, and warmth can stop the flower from growing and kill it altogether.
However, there are many more potential causes, so the best way to learn about hydrangea care is to research online or through a local library before purchasing this flower species. After reading this article, you should hopefully better understand how to care for hydrangeas and promote plant growth.
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.