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Is My Hydrangea Dead or Dormant – Growgardener Blog!

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Hey guys! We are back to answer some unique questions regarding your flamboyant flowerheads.

Yes, you guessed it right. Today, we are going to talk about Hydrangeas.

Hydrangeas are gorgeous flowering plants with beautiful blooms that provide different colors to your garden in the summer, but they fail to thrive if they don’t get proper care and attention.

In this article, we will look at the answer to “Is my Hydrangea dead or dormant?” Moreover, I will tell you how to treat a dormant Hydrangea plant and methods that you can adapt to prevent your Hydrangeas from dying.

Dead Hydrangea in a box. Is My Hydrangea Dead or Dormant
“Is My Hydrangea Dead or Dormant?” – Photo by Flora Westbrook.

So, without further ado, let’s get straight into the topic.

Is My Hydrangea Dead or Dormant?

Failing to flourish in spring may indicate that either your plant is suffering from winter stress or it is dead.

Is my Hydrangea dead or dormant, you say? A simple method to check if your Hydrangea is dead or dormant is to examine it from all sides/directions:

  • The plant is not dormant if you see green leaves and blossoms; it is metabolically energetic. But if you get some fallen black or brown leaves, your Hydrangea may be dead or dormant.
  • By scratching the stem, you can check whether the Hydrangea is dead or dormant. If you don’t see any green stem or sprouts, it indicates a dead plant. On the other hand, if you see some live (green) parts — no matter if there is any new growth, it reflects a stressed/dormant plant.

How to Tell If Hydrangea Is Dead?

Hydrangeas are long-living plants. Their average life span is about 50 years if they get proper care and attention. In the growing season, they require frequent watering and attention. Pruning your Hydrangea while blooming may cause severe damage to them, and improper care can lead them to die.

If your Hydrangea shows abnormal behavior or some falling brown or black leaves, it is probably on the verge of dying.

Most of the time, Hydrangea plants die due to insufficient watering, transplant shock, excess fertilizer, etc.

When Hydrangea is dying, it shows some signs similar to dormant Hydrangea. To inspect whether it is completely dead, you must check it deeply. It is probably dying if you got some fallen flowers or dried leaves, but these signs are not enough to attest your plant.

In the growing season, if your Hydrangea shows stunted growth with dead leaves and flowers, it indicates plant death. Gently scratch the stem to find the green part. If you don’t get any green portions in your plant, your Hydrangea must be dead.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to revive a dead Hydrangea but restoring a dying plant is more convenient.

Why Is My Hydrangea Dying?

Hydrangea is dying due to soil dryness or the direct sunlight that turns the leaves brown. It is better to look after your plant before it fails.

Some mistakes made by the plant parents also led the Hydrangea to die. Some common mistakes include:

  • Insufficient watering.
  • Small pot or container.
  • Excess Nitrogen.

Insufficient Watering

Hydrangeas often express their dislike of local conditions when they are drooping.

Too much sun and not enough water may lead to the wilting of Hydrangea. If there is too much sun, the water will evaporate rapidly, which results in water deficiency for the plant.

Hydrangea plants are tolerant to drought to an extent, but not for an extended period. Hydrangeas should be watered thoroughly 1 inch per week during summer.

“But a general rule of thumb is that you should wait for the top ½ of the soil to dry before giving your plant another shot of hydration. Moreover, the quantity and frequency of watering depend upon the conditions you provide to your plant.”

If your Hydrangea is wilting, it is a vital sign of stress due to drought and lack of moisture in the soil. Hydrangeas die because of water shortage in the soil.

That’s why they require the soil to be consistently moist. It is usually due to hot and dry weather, but there are other reasons why soil might be dehydrated:

  • The soil must have less organic material. That’s why it is unable to hold enough water.
  • The soil may be dry due to the lack of watering.
  • Also, the high winds are unfavorable for Hydrangea growth.

You can do some actions to revive your dying Hydrangea from drought and excess sunlight.

How to Revive a Dried-Out Hydrangea?

Too much sunlight and not enough water can cause your Hydrangea to dry out, giving it a dead look.

To cure it:

  • Start with providing the plant with a better place where it feels well.
  • During hot days provide your Hydrangea with temporary shade at the hottest part of the day — midday.
  • Good soil preparation before planting is the key to providing the required conditions for Hydrangeas to stay hydrated with sufficient nutrients. Adding 2-3 inches of well-composted mulch is excellent for Hydrangeas.

Related Article: How to Make the Best Potting Mix for Indoor Plants According to the Nature of Your Plants Themselves.

Water your Hydrangea generously.

Some Hydrangeas do not need any additional water in temperate climates. But if your plant is competing with other trees or facing unfavorable soil conditions, it must need some extra water.

You can also watch this excellent YouTube tutorial on saving a wilted hydrangea plant:

How to bring a wilted plant back to life just in 2 hours! – YouTube

Small Pot or Container

Hydrangeas do not like small containers because their roots are aggressive and quickly fill the small flasks. Small containers also heat up quickly, which results in plants drying faster.

Also, the Hydrangeas need well-draining soil for growth and development that; usually doesn’t get in the container.

There is much more chance of Hydrangea death in small pots or containers than in the garden because a plant cannot get enough water or may get overwatered.

Using pots without drainage holes also leads to waterlogging, resulting in root rot. Root rot is another leading cause of dying Hydrangea plants.

You can browse through this article to learn all about root rot.

Beautiful Hydrangea in a pot. Is My Hydrangea Dead or Dormant
“Is My Hydrangea Dead or Dormant?” – Photo by congerdesign.

Here are some recommendations to guard your plant in pots.

How to Care for a Potted Hydrangea?

You can heed the following tips:

  • Use only medium or large-sized pots that are at least two feet wide — choose a pot according to the size of your plant.
  • Place your potted Hydrangea in a spot that receives full morning sunlight, shade from the midday sun, and evening sunlight.
  • If possible, water your plant with distilled water or rainwater.
  • If the temperature outside is high enough, bring your Hydrangea inside to protect it from wilting, or use sunshades to protect your outdoor plants.
  • Suppose your Hydrangea is dying due to a water shortage; In that case, it is better to submerge the wilted blooms entirely in water and let them stay for a few hours to rehydrate.
  • And finally, use a pot with a lot of drainage holes.

If you want to know how to revive Hydrangeas in pots, you can check out the method of immersion to fix dying Hydrangea.

Excess Nitrogen

When there is more fertilizer in the soil than the plant requires, its ability to fruit and flower is significantly reduced.

Hydrangea roots are very sensitive. Excessive nitrogen can cause the roots to burn, turn the leaf edges brown, and inhibit blooms on Hydrangea. Over-fertilizing Hydrangeas can also lead to lesser growth.

If you are feeding your plant with too much fertilizer, it can develop large flower heads that are too heavy for the plant. Also, the excess fertilizer can lead to soil acidification.

How to Revive an Over-Fertilized Hydrangea?

Although, the best way to fix an overfertilized plant is to re-pot it in a new and fresh potting mix. Reversing the effects of over-fertilization is also possible, but it requires time to recover fully.

Try to remove visible fertilizer and eliminate the fertilizer by allowing the water to pass through the roots.

This process is known as leaching. In leaching, the only thing you do is flush the soil with a large quantity of water until you don’t see any white salts above the soil surface.

After that, avoid fertilizing your Hydrangea for 3-5 months.

“Only fertilize your Hydrangea with a slow-releasing, well-balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer during spring or early summer. Fertilizing once a year is enough.”

What Does a Dormant Hydrangea Look Like?

As I mentioned earlier, if you notice some green areas in the stem area or at the base of your Hydrangea, it has probably been in the dormant phase.

You can be patient and wait for your Hydrangea to sprout new growth in the spring.

But, if you don’t see any change until the late growing season, your Hydrangea is going through a dying phase. Therefore, follow the fixes mentioned above, and you won’t be thinking: “Is my Hydrangea dead or dormant?”

Causes of Dormant Hydrangea Plants

The main reason for the dormancy of Hydrangea is the winter. Hydrangea usually goes to the dormant stage in winter to prevent themselves from winter harshness.

The best way to protect Hydrangea from winter is to make it winterize.

See how the frost effect Hydrangea’s health and how to cure it.

Frost Period

Like the hot weather affects the plant, the cold climate can also. If you expose your plant to prolonged frost, it will suffer wilting.

The winter may cause the plant to face a sudden cold. The freezing will cause the plant cells to rupture; as a result, the plant starts wilting.

Hydrangea leaves may be black or brown for many reasons, but if they have changed color from healthy green overnight, this is because of winter harshness.

Hydrangea in winter. – Is My Hydrangea Dead or Dormant?
“Is My Hydrangea Dead or Dormant?” – Image via Peter Stenzel.

Cold temperatures, as well as winter winds, can cause winter kills.

You know what I mean… A cold climate can often damage the newly emerging leaves, and flowers, thus stopping flowering. Because Hydrangea goes dormant in winter, you will not notice winter kills until spring.

“The best way to protect your Hydrangea from cold is to make it winterize so that your plant survives in the next season.”

How to Winterize a Hydrangea Plant?

Wondering how to winterize Hydrangea? Hydrangeas are not really challenging to focus on, and they can look marvelous all along the season.

Still, these plants are pretty hard to maintain in winter. Therefore, you can follow these easy steps before the winter comes:

  • Feed the soil around the plant in early summer. It is ideal for fertilizing your Hydrangea plant in spring or summer to appear lush in the following warm weather.
  • Avoid feeding your plant in the fall, so they have a better chance of surviving in winter conditions.
  • Create a frame around the Hydrangea and some insulating material such as oak leaves or pine cones in the frame. The cover remains on the Hydrangea until the threat of the last frost has passed.
  • An ideal temperature range for Hydrangeas — looking at their native regions — is between 10°C to 25°C.
  • A top-dressing of composted manure proves to be the perfect meal for your plant to digest over the long winter. A mixture of used coffee ground and wood ash is also acceptable. These add acidity and alkalinity to the soil.

How to Revive a Frost Damaged Hydrangea?

Your Hydrangea almost always recovers from damage caused by cold and frost. To treat frost-damaged Hydrangea, wait until the temperature has warmed up and prune back the affected growth.

First of all, you have to access the damage. You can check how much of the new growth is killed by scraping your fingernail across the damaged stem.

Scrape the bark with a fingernail at different locations from the tip towards the base until you find the still green bark. Prune the damaged part (not green) at the point where you see green bark, and it will grow into a new lavish plant in the growing season.

Do not prune it if there is a risk of frost. If you prune your plants too quickly, you expose new parts of plants to frost damage.

With all that said, now you got the answer to “Is my Hydrangea dead or dormant?” Now, let’s talk more about pruning.

Pruning Hydrangeas

The best way to prevent your Hydrangea from unfavorable conditions is to prune it.

Pruning helps plants to maintain their better growth. It is a simple method to protect plants from stressful conditions and helps to make our plants healthy.

However, most plants need consistent pruning, but Hydrangeas do not require strict regular pruning. You can keep them healthy by removing dead flowers or old stems, and they will grow and flower well.

Benefits of Pruning Hydrangeas

Pruning prevents Hydrangea from becoming woody or congested and encourages the plant for better growth.

Consistent pruning of Hydrangea helps maintain the elegant shape of flowers and leaves and encourages better growth.

Flower size is related to pruning. With more aggressive pruning, shoots will be more energetic, and flower heads will be larger and fewer. Less vigorous pruning, also known as tip pruning, can result in smaller but numerous flowers.

When to Prune Hydrangeas?

Hydrangeas bloom in the spring season, so pruning them back when they are dormant and just entering the growing phase encourages healthy growth in the spring and abundant flowering. But some types of Hydrangeas show better growth when pruned at the end of summer.

You don’t need to be pruned unless the shrub has grown large and needs a little shaping up. However, you can clean the plant by removing dead branches.

The pruning of Hydrangea depends upon its different types. Every type of Hydrangea is pruned differently depending upon its old wood (growth from the previous season) and new wood (growth from the current season).

So, without wondering “Is my Hydrangea dead or dormant?” start pruning the nasty parts of your Hydrangeas.

How to Prune Hydrangeas?

There are simple steps to prune your Hydrangeas, which are as follows.

  • Prune in early spring, just as the leaves are beginning to show.
  • Remove any weak or spindly branches.
  • Droopy flowers can be removed as they fade to keep the plant looking tidy.
  • Begin by pruning away stems that are dead or weak. But don’t try to prune all the old wood because it is where the new growth comes up.
  • Prune away selected branches to the ground level or towards the main stem but make sure to retain some healthy divisions.


Let’s conclude this discussion.

I hope that — by now — you have not only got an answer to: “Is my Hydrangea dead or dormant?” but also a whole bunch of caring tips and tricks to prevent your Hydrangea from going dormant or dead.

If your Hydrangea is dead, it is impossible to revive it, but if it is metabolically inactive and still has some life in it, your plant only needs your love and affection.

The only thing you can give your plant is your full attention and love. By providing this, your plant is going to thrive at its peak!

Happy Planting!