Brown and wilted leaves on the decorative hydrangea are always a warning sign that the plant is not doing well. The errors for this are to be found in maintenance. Therefore, these should be found quickly so that the plant can be saved. The following article explains what can be the cause of brown and wilted leaves on hydrangeas and how to counteract them.

Wrong watering

As the Latin name of the plant Hydrangea suggests, the hydrangea needs a lot of water. Because translated this means nothing else than water bush. Therefore, the decorative flowering plant does not tolerate a longer period of drought. Especially in the hot months, after watering in the early morning, it can happen that the leaves are hanging again in the evening. Therefore, when watering, attention should be paid to the following so that the leaves do not turn brown and wither:

  • Water in the morning and evening when it is very hot
  • water drooping leaves immediately
  • if the leaves are brown, check for dryness
  • swallow immediately
  • Potted plants can be submerged
  • remove all brown leaves
  • only use lime-free water
  • Collected rainwater is ideal
  • Be sure to filter tap water

However, waterlogging should also be avoided with the water-loving hydrangea. It is better if it is watered more often than just once and then too much. If the water stays at the roots, they could rot.

Tip: To avoid waterlogging, always create a drainage system, regardless of whether the hydrangeas were cultivated in the garden bed or in a bucket. When watering potted plants, also pour off the drip tray after about half an hour.

Wrong location

The wrong location can be to blame for the brown and wilted leaves on a hydrangea. Because the plant must never be exposed to the blazing sun, otherwise it will get sunburn on the leaves, which will partially dry up as a result. Therefore, the ideal location looks like this and should be considered before planting, especially when cultivating bedding plants:

  • better penumbra
  • under a light tree
  • on a covered terrace or balcony
  • alternatively pull out the awning
  • set up a parasol
  • especially at noon
  • slightly shady entrance
  • on the west or east side of the house

If a bucket is in the wrong location, it should be moved. A young plant in the bed is better transplanted than left in the wrong place. Alternatively, sun protection can also be installed here at the wrong location.

Tip: Leaves that have been damaged by the sun should not be removed as long as they are still green. Because this remaining part will continue to be used by the hydrangea and will not harm it. The decorative look alone is diminished a little.

Wrong fertilizing

Nutrient deficiencies are a major problem with hydrangeas. Plants cultivated in tubs in particular often suffer from a lack of nutrients, since a lot is watered and the nutrients given quickly escape from the tub through the drain hole to the outside. Iron is particularly important for hydrangeas, which can otherwise develop diseases. Prevention is better here and so a special hydrangea fertilizer from the trade according to the manufacturer’s instructions should always be used. However, if the leaves are already yellow, then it is probably leaf chlorosis caused by the lack of nutrients. In such a case, the following measures should be initiated immediately:

  • Repot hydrangea in the bucket
  • use fresh substrate
  • special hydrangea soil from the trade
  • only water lime-free
  • Immediately sprinkle Epsom salt on the bed
  • Use iron fertilizers specifically for flowering plants
  • Use compost from leaves or needles

When using iron fertilizer, care should be taken to ensure that it is suitable for the hydrangeas. For example, there are also iron fertilizers to combat moss in the lawn. In addition to iron, this also contains harmful and unsuitable substances for the hydrangea, which would only harm this plant and not benefit it.

Note: The cause of leaf chlorosis is an excess of lime, which is usually added with the irrigation water. This leads to hardened soil in which magnesium and iron become trapped. This leads to a deficiency because the nutrients can no longer be absorbed by the roots.

Wrong treatment after wintering

Hydrangeas are only partially hardy and should therefore receive winter protection in colder climates. Be it in an outdoor location, where the plant in the bed or in the tub is wrapped with plant fleece, or inside, in a cool, partially bright place. In spring, when it sprouts, it can go outside again without winter protection. Here, however, the following dangers lurk that you need to watch out for:

  • first leaves appear
  • mostly in February
  • frosty nights are to be expected
  • young leaves can freeze
  • get brown leaves
  • cut off frozen leaves

As a remedy, it is better if the hydrangeas are still covered with a plant fleece at night until frosty temperatures are no longer to be expected in May after the ice saints. The soil should still be mulched by then.

Note: A hydrangea in winter without leaves can occasionally withstand slightly sub-zero temperatures without winter protection. In the case of already sprouted and leafy plants, however, this looks very different.


Diseases that turn hydrangea leaves brown include chlorosis and leaf spot. The causes for this lie in a fungal infestation, which can occur due to too much moisture and too little light at the location. Therefore, if yellow spots appear on the leaves with a brown center, this is a fungal attack against which the following measures should be taken immediately:

  • immediately remove all affected leaves
  • don’t put it in the compost
  • Quarantine potted plants
  • treat with fungicides
  • Discard fallen leaves as well
Note: If hydrangeas have been exposed to rain for a long time, the constantly damp leaves provide a good breeding ground for fungus. Therefore, potted plants should always be covered during long periods of rain. Bedding plants can be sheltered under trees or an eaves.


When it comes to pests, it is the spider mites that can cause the brown and wilted leaves on the hydrangeas. If other causes can therefore be ruled out, the plant should be examined for spider mites and then the following measures against the infestation should be initiated:

  • Spider mites colored green, red orange or yellow
  • only appear in larger quantities
  • Give the plant a good shower
  • spray with lye from soft soap
  • multiple applications required
  • Dispose of affected leaves in the trash
  • if nothing helps, use insecticide
Note: If the hydrangea is showered, this should be done on a warm and dry day. The time for the treatment should be early in the morning so that the plant can dry completely again during the day.


However, the brown and wilted leaves on the hydrangeas can be prevented. Prevention is always easier than repairing the damage later. In the general care of the plant, you should always pay attention to the following:

  • choose a partially shaded location
  • much watering
  • especially in the hot periods
  • only use lime-free water
  • Avoid waterlogging
  • Use iron fertilizer for hydrangeas
  • according to manufacturer information
  • do not expose to frost in spring

The right care is not a big effort, but offers lush flowering, decorative hydrangeas with lush green leaves.

The decorative hydrangeas with their thick flower balls are actually very easy to care for. But the plant does not tolerate too much sun, too little water and too little fertilizer and this is indicated by brown and wilted leaves. If this is the case, you should act immediately, otherwise the plant will no longer recover and will age. Then only a radical pruning is recommended, but the hydrangea recovers from this only very slowly. However, if you act immediately when yellow, brown and later wilted leaves appear, the plant will recover quickly.

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