Asked on Aug 13, 2014

Not happy how my one-year-old oak leaf hydrangea's look

Carol P
by Carol P
Had three hydrangea plants put in a year ago, and one died and now replaced. It looked really healthy and now one limb looks like it is dying with the dark leaves. I am disappointed in the flowers as they look green at first then turn brown and ugly. I was told they would be purple.
Does anyone know what is going on here? I have not touched them. There are three holly plants to the sides. Two female and one male. These are on the North side of the house. The 2nd picture is of the plant next to 1st picture. I live in SE Kansas.
  8 answers
  • Carol P Carol P on Aug 13, 2014
    What do you think @Douglas Hunt
  • This native beauty is an easy to grow plant but the Oakleaf Hydrangeas are white flowers and then they will turn colors as they age . the leaves in the fall turn vibrant colors from deep purples to reds. They are showy with the fall foliage. Now you must be patient! It takes 3 years in most zones for any plant to take off. Plus I see you do not mulch and the ground looks dry with some weeds. The first years these hydrangeas need moist and not dry out and mulch keeps weed out. 4" of mulch is the best depth to keep moisture in and weeds out. I also have to add that on the north side of the house was not the best choice. they prefer a part sun and shade area in lower zones and in zones 7 and in the south they can tolerate a dappled shade as in woodland areas. These plants will get 10 feet tall and wide in higher zones and in lower zones could reach well over 6'. with this in mind you have this planted right next to the house where it will not be able to grow and reach its full potential. the saying is 1st year sleeps, 2nd year creeps, 3rd year leaps is true for most plants in most zones. But i do recommend you move this to a larger area! happy gardening!
  • Carol P Carol P on Aug 13, 2014
    Interesting. I had a nursery suggest these and they put them in. I thought the owner knew what she was doing.We have had a lot of rain (3 inches just the other day) and the yards are lush now. Usually everything is burnt up by now. I think I am in zone 6. I will get some mulch, but I really don't have any other place to put them. They did have a lot of blooms last year, but guess this year not as many due to no sun at all. I am stumped. Should I trim off that dying looking limb in the 1st picture? I just went through some yard pictures and found this one. There is a brick path off the deck to a shed. It is on the North, but probably gets full sun. Would putting the 3 plants on the bend of that path on the other side work? I just can't picture how big these will be because they are so flimsy and delicate looking. The 3 hydrangeas are to the left of that path and back about a foot with a roof overhang. @The Garden Frog with C Renee .
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    • @Carol P Is the soil dry there? I just want to make sure since you said you got so much rain. if you do decide to make the bed larger when you dig these babies up, you can check the roots then to make sure they planted them correctly. I have a different approach to planting and I have great success. These are native plants and with that you really should not amend the soil and make sure the soil is compacted loosely around the roots and no air pockets. this can stunt the growth and eventually kill any plant. i hope i did not give you too much info LOL good luck
  • Carol P Carol P on Aug 13, 2014
    Thanks. I think I could be in a sad state here. Pretty sure where the walk is full sun except early morning. There is a large tree to the west of the hydrangeas which gives shade to the area I would enlarge going North. Also I have noticed when pulling weeds it seems there are pockets of air or maybe tunnels from time to time and I am thinking moles. Not bad though. I have had some major runs in the yard at times that have killed my Bermuda.grass. When it rains that area does get moisture, but I will watch it more closely and water. I have noticed they do get thirsty.I have to be careful though, because the male holly doesn't like as much water as the females. I did ask should I put mulch around them and was told no by the nursery. I have done nothing since they were put in but water. So I guess I will watch the sun and get some mulch and water.@The Garden Frog with C Renee
    • @Carol P hollies are a pretty durable plant and you can mulch them-rule of thumb is not to put mulch up to the trunks. Moles will aerate your soil (i try to look on the bright side) but the voles are what go through the tunnels and eat the roots off plants and eat many bulbs. They can wipe out a hosta bed in a day. watch the sun. enlarging to the north might be a good idea plus you will have less grass to mow! just mulch 4" and if you have any doubts just ask. happy gardening Carol
  • Carol P Carol P on Aug 13, 2014
    @The Garden Frog with C Renee .....I just went out to cut that dead looking branch and got to looking closer to the whole plant. If you look close at that picture there are a lot of leaves that are turning that red and I think soon could be wilting like that one branch. It is not brittle so decided not to clip it off just yet. Could this be a fungus? Or some kind of blight? The other plants look fine.
    • @Carol P I think waiting until spring to see what the branch will do. I see that it is wilting and changing colors. I am never in a hurry to prune but it there still is life left in it (use your fingernail to scrape for green under bark, then leave. I have many plants that have come back after something like this. patience is a gardener's friend.
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Aug 13, 2014
    Sorry to be late to chime in here, but Renee is right that oak leaf hydrangeas bloom white, not purple. The leaf on the right is the natural coloration these plants can get in the fall, so it is possible that one turned early because of drought stress. While the species oakleaf can get quite large, there are dwarf cultivars that stay compact, including one named "Sikes Dwarf," and it is possible that is what your local nursery sold you. I have mine in almost full shade in Florida and it does fine.
  • Carol P Carol P on Aug 14, 2014
    @Douglas Hunt thanks for input...That one stem that is purple is wilting. The other leaves have some purple splotches. I watered this evening. We really haven't had much of a dry spell this summer and normally have my AC on, but I haven't had it on for a month. It is 64 at 1 am and it has been in the low 80s recently. Great Summer I must say. Your comments are encouraging. Unfortunately the nursery I dealt with has moved out of town this July and I haven't dug into how to reach her yet. I will find a way.Are you in agreement about the mulch? I really misspoke about the color. The blooms do start out white. Not too big and more a cone shape. I will check it out closer tomorrow. .
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    • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Aug 16, 2014
      @Carol P You are correct that the mulch should not touch the base of the plant. A couple of inches of space is fine. Looking at that straight-on photo, I am concerned about your plant spacing, however. Even a dwarf oakleaf would probably be three by three feet, and the hollies could well be more than that.
  • Carol P Carol P on Aug 14, 2014
    Thanks to @The Garden Frog with C Renee and @Douglas Hunt for your encouragement and educating me on Hydrangeas. You give me hope. My favorite word! I will touch base with you next year and let you know how they are doing. God Bless.cp