Why are my hydrangeas dying?

I can usually do this more than one time, and each time the flowers look pretty for a more few days. When I put them back in the vase, I add fresh water with a few ice cubes. I honestly have no proof that the ice helps, but it can’t hurt!



Put on a kettle of water to boil.

Find a suitable heatproof bowl that will temporarily hold the flowers. I use a mixing bowl.

Trim off the ends of the stalks at an angle and place the flowers in the heatproof bowl. I place the bowl against the wall so that the top heavy blooms have something to stop them from flipping out.

Pour boiling water over the cut ends of the stems. Make sure all stems are submerged but only for 2-3 inches.

Allow to steep for a couple of hours. Most of the time, this will revive them, and you will be successful for a couple of times, maybe more. After that, you may just be pushing it too far!

Rearrange in original vase with fresh cold water and a few ice cubes.

Enjoy your flowers with new life breathed back into them for the second time. Or the third time.

Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center A cache pot (the one shown here accepting this potted hyacinth) has no holes and can back up water into the root zone if you’re not careful.


Last week I received a ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ hydrangea as a birthday gift from my daughter. Unfortunately, 2 two days ago when it wilted, I assumed it was dry even though I had watered it a bit every day. Turns out it was too wet! Yesterday I took it out of the cache pot, out of the plastic pot and put it in the shade on my porch for a few hours to drain and dry out. It looks no better today. Is there anything I can do to save it?

A: If the roots are rotted past the point of no return, only miraculous intervention will help you now. Good thing it’s Easter! Maybe you’ll have better odds. There’s no product, treatment or trick that will reverse the damage.

The best thing is what you’re doing — get the plant out of the killing conditions and see if enough roots are intact for the plant to recover. You’ll know in a few days. It’ll either perk back up or slump into a lifeless blob. I’d put the plant back in the plastic pot, though (assuming it has drainage holes in the bottom).

Overwatering actually kills more indoor plants than underwatering. Cache pots — decorative ones without holes that you set plain plastic pots into — are nice-looking and keep water from getting on your carpets and furniture. But they do add an extra layer of risk.

What happened in your case is that excess water drained out the bottom of the plastic-pot holes but then backed up in the cache pot. Roots in water can’t get oxygen, and they begin to die. Dead roots don’t take up water, and so that’s why a wilted plant from too much water looks just like a wilted plant from not enough water.

A good rule of thumb on indoor-plant watering is to stick your finger into the soil to test for wetness before automatically watering. A second good test is to tip the pot a little to check weight. Dry soil is noticeably lighter.

An open dish is an alternative to a cache pot. It catches the drainage but keeps it off the carpet and furniture. Plus you can see if water is standing.

If you use cache pots, simply lift the plastic pot out a few minutes after watering to see if standing water is in the bottom. If so, dump it and then replace the plant.

Last Updated on August 1, 2019

If you have hydrangeas you know that they are fairly easy to grow, they are very tolerant of things like heat and humidity as well as sea air or sunlight. However, they will grow to quite a large size depending on the variety, with a width between 3 and 5 ft.

Many people think that bigger is better especially when it comes to their flowers. The hydrangeas are known for their incredibly large flowers and yet these can literally be the downfall of the same plant.

In order to prevent the plant from flopping over, you want to start by watering at the bottom of the shrub and never on top. If you water on top it will fill your flowers with extra water and that will cause the flowers themselves to fall over which can damage the stems and the branches.

You should also deadhead any fading blooms by clipping them off directly below the flower head so that the shrub is not nearly as heavy on top unnecessarily. It might be beneficial to cut some of the heavier flowers when they are in full bloom and simply arrange them inside your home so that they aren’t weighing down on the plant.

To that end, it’s important to have the proper support structure so that you can keep your plants from falling over.

How to stop hydrangeas flopping over

The first way to stop hydrangeas flopping over is to space them appropriately when you grow them. You need to take into account when you are first planting that these hydrangeas need room to grow and they need room to spread out. If you give your hydrangeas the proper space to grow and spread they will produce better blooms for you. If you are growing large hydrangeas as shrubs you want to group them approximately three or four feet apart so that they can naturally support one another as they get bigger.


Another way to help prevent your hydrangeas from flopping over is to prune them sparingly. Most hydrangeas require very little if any pruning and if you prune them too often or too early the stems will be very thin and they won’t be able to support the weight of the flowers nor will the branches be able to support all of the stems. This is more likely to cause them to bend over or droop. It is recommended that you prune certain varieties like the Annabelle hydrangea back during the winter but excessive pruning throughout the rest of the year can weaken the overall structure.

Additionally, with certain varieties like the Annabelle hydrangea, the flowers will bloom on new wood so pruning at the end of winter will encourage stronger stems and that can help increase the amount of support the hydrangea naturally has and subsequently prevent it from falling over. It is in your best interest to check whether your particular hydrangea will bloom on old wood or new wood. Some varieties like oakleaf or big leaf will bloom on old wood while others will bloom on new wood.


Fencing can be incorporated into your garden to offer support structures to prevent your hydrangeas from falling over. Tomato cages are great for supporting smaller hydrangeas but as they get bigger you can use larger wire cages from garden centres or DIY stores. Flat panels of reinforcement wire can be cut to the appropriate height of your hydrangeas and then affixed to the plant to give it support.

Ornamental trellises

If you opt for the creation of hedges with your hydrangeas, ornamental trellises make for a wonderful support structure. It’s important that you make sure they are at least 3 feet high if you opt for this method. They need to be sunk into the ground around the hydrangea so that they don’t disturb the roots. There are a lot of lovely ornamental trellises out there that have scalloped tops which can add a bit of beautiful flair to your garden.

Individual stakes

Alternatively, in order to support the large central stems of your hydrangea, you can use individual stakes or green support structures. This will help to keep the heavier blooms from falling onto the ground.

It’s important to remember that the bigger the flower heads on your hydrangea, the more support they will need because the stems can only handle so much weight. If you do things to increase the number of blooms you get on your plant, be cognizant of this ahead of time and consider some method of support structure so that when the blooms have all shown themselves at the same time in spring and summer, you already have some sort of support in place to help the stems in the branches.

These simple measures used in tandem will keep your hydrangea upright and strong.

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Caring for hydrangeas

‘Blue Enchantress’ is a new re-blooming hydrangea with stately ruby-black stems supporting big, beautiful, mophead flowers.

Hydrangea flowers are simply spectacular, earning the shrubs prime placement in the landscape. Get the biggest blooms by giving them the best care from the start. Select a plant that will grow well in the conditions provided by your garden. Follow up with proper pruning, watering, and fertilizing. Here’s how to grow gorgeous hydrangeas.

Selecting hydrangeas

Success with hydrangeas starts with selecting the right plant for your garden. Think about where you’re going to plant the shrub. Do you have space for a large plant such as an oakleaf hydrangea (that can grow to a size of 12 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide), or are you looking for a smaller specimen to plant in a landscape bed near the house?

Does your planting site get morning sun, afternoon sun, or all-day sun? Some hydrangeas handle full sun better than others.

Are you looking for a pink-, white-, or blue-flowered variety? Soil pH impacts flower color in bigleaf hydrangeas, but not in hardy hydrangeas.

Is the soil where you’re planning to plant the hydrangea dry, moderately moist, or does it stay wet? Finally, what growing zone do you live in?

If you live in a colder area (USDA zones 5 and lower) you’ll need to select a variety with flower buds that will survive the winter temperatures or a variety that blooms on new growth.

Each hydrangea plant listing on our website contains care information (on the “care” and “overview” tabs) that will help you to select plants that will grow well in the conditions your garden has to offer.

Planting hydrangeas

The best time to plant shrubs is in the fall, followed by spring. This allows the plants to grow healthy new roots without the stress of winter cold or summer heat. For the most part, hydrangeas grow best in full to partial sun in moist, well-drained slightly acidic soils. (Requirements vary slightly by variety. Some hydrangeas can tolerate less sun, a higher pH, or more moisture in the soil.)

To plant, dig a hole that is two to three times as wide as the root ball and just as deep. Remove the plant from the pot and place it in the hole. Place a spade handle across the planting hole across the root ball to ensure that the top of the root ball is level or just barely higher than the soil around the planting hole. When depth is adjusted, fill in around the shrub with the soil that you removed. (There is no need to amend the backfill.) Water regularly to establish. Mulch around the base of the plant, taking care to pull the mulch away from the plant stems.

Pruning hydrangeas

Pruning is, for some people, the most frightening and mysterious of hydrangea care. Don’t be scared! At the very least, if you prune at the wrong time or remove too much of the plant, it will grow back.

Here are the secrets to pruning hydrangeas properly:

  • Wait until plants start growing in the spring to prune back any dead wood. That is the only way to know which parts of the plant survived the winter. Hydrangeas can be slow to leaf out. Be patient.
  • Know whether your hydrangea blooms on old wood (last year’s growth) or new wood (this year’s growth). There are a few varieties that bloom on old and new growth. As a rule of thumb, you’ll prune old wood bloomers right after they flower (usually in the spring or early summer). You’ll prune new wood bloomers in the spring after the plants start growing. Some of the newer, more compact varieties need little pruning except to remove dead or diseased branches.

Watering hydrangeas

Most hydrangeas need consistently and evenly moist soil. They don’t do well in bone-dry soils or with wet/dry/wet/dry cycles. Mulching helps conserve moisture. Water deeply and infrequently during dry periods to encourage deep root growth. Some varieties handle more water than others.

Fertilizing hydrangeas

You will not need to fertilize hydrangea plants every year. In fact, feeding hydrangeas too much nitrogen can result in lots of leaves and few blooms. You can err on the side of a “lean” growing plan and hold off on fertilizing unless the leaves turn slightly yellow in the centers. If the whole leaf turns yellow but the veins remain pronounced, the plant could have a problem absorbing iron. Test the soil pH. You might have to lower the pH by applying aluminum sulfate.

Related to fertilizing is the question of bloom color, which, on bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla), is influenced by pH. Low pH leads to blue flowers and a higher pH, pink flowers. There are some cultivars that stay pink, regardless of pH. It isn’t uncommon to end up with purplish flowers, as well.

Why Won’t My Hydrangea Bloom?

There are three main reasons why hydrangeas don’t bloom:

  • Cold temperatures. Flower buds on bigleaf hydrangeas that bloom on old wood can be killed by winter temperatures, even though the rest of the plant survives. The only solution is to wait for next year. There are some new bigleaf varieties that bloom on old and new wood, making winterkill less of a problem.
  • Too much shade. Most hydrangeas need some sun in order to grow and bloom. If temperature isn’t a factor, it could be sunlight.
  • Pruning at the wrong time. If you prune hydrangeas that bloom on old wood (bigleaf and oakleaf, primarily) in the spring before they bloom you’ll cut off the flower buds before they open. If you prune shrubs that bloom on new wood too late in the spring or summer, you can cut off flower buds after they form for the summer, but before they open. Late pruning can keep these shrubs from blooming and re-blooming.

Try to select hydrangea varieties that can grow to maturity without yearly pruning to maintain an artificially small size. There are so many choices now that you can find a plant that will fit your growing conditions without needing to resort to extreme pruning.

Why Hydrangeas Droop: How To Fix Drooping Hydrangea Plants

Hydrangeas are beautiful landscaping plants with big, delicate blooms. Although these plants are easy to care for once they’re established, droopy hydrangea plants aren’t uncommon as young plants are coming into their own. If your hydrangeas are drooping, it may be due to environmental problems, or they may simply be a variety that tends to flop a bit. Read on to learn about ways of managing droopy hydrangea plants.

Why Hydrangeas Droop

Hydrangeas droop for many reasons, but it’s rarely due to illness. When hydrangeas are drooping, they’re often expressing their dislike of local conditions. Too much sun and not enough water lead to wilt; heavy flower loads can cause tender branches to bend until they touch the ground. Even an extra dose of fertilizer may contribute to droopy hydrangea plants.

Correcting the problem will require extra attention to your hydrangea’s care. You’ll have to play detective to figure out what’s wrong with your plant before attempting to correct the conditions that led to the initial droop. A soil test and some close observation may be all it takes to determine the source of the problem.

How to Fix Drooping Hydrangea Plants

The combination of too much sun and not enough water is a common cause of hydrangea droop, making it a great place to start when your plants are feeling unwell. Check the moisture level of your hydrangea at a point 1 to 2 inches below the surface of the soil with your finger. If it feels dry, water deeply, holding the hose around the base of the plant for several minutes. Check the moisture level every few days and water when necessary. If this perks your plant up, add 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch around the base to help trap the soil moisture. On very hot days, it may also pay to provide a temporary sun shade during the hottest part of the afternoon.

Over-fertilization may lead to droopy flower heads when excess nitrogen leads to fast, spindly growth. These thin branches don’t have the strength to hold up large hydrangea flowers, so they tend to flop dramatically. In the future, always perform a soil test before fertilizing; many times hydrangeas get plenty of extra nutrients from lawn fertilizer run-off. If nitrogen is high, it may help to fertilize with phosphorus and potassium so your plant grows more evenly.

Randomly floppy hydrangeas varieties aren’t an uncommon phenomenon. Sometimes, they just flop because they’ve got heavy flowers or they’ve been beaten hard by the weather. If it’s a yearly problem, try thinning the inside of your plant to promote more robust growth, as well as removing about half the flower buds early in the season. If this still isn’t enough, staking with peony supports or tying the central supports of your hydrangea to a sturdy metal stake or fence post may help it appear more upright.

Cut Hydrangea Care


How can I keep hydrangeas from wilting after they are cut?

Have you ever cut hydrangea blooms and put them right into a vase of water only to have them wilt within an hour or two? This seems to be caused by a sticky substance that clogs the stems, preventing moisture from reaching the blooms. This does not happen every time. Cut-hydrangeas often last for days and other times they wilt almost immediately after being added to an arrangement.

There are two techniques, suggested to me by several visitors to the site, that should solve this problem. I’ve tested both, and have had excellent results. The two methods are:

(1) The Hot Water method
(2) The Alum Dip method

We would appreciate any feedback on this or any other technique you find useful for keeping arrangements fresh.


Whether you wish to ensure that cut hydrangeas do not wilt from the start of your arrangement, or you want to revive hydrangeas that have wilted after a few hours or days, the following techniques have proven highly successful.

Using Hot Water To Help Cut Hydrangeas

I was motivated to try the following technique after receiving suggestions from visitors to this site. It is extremely easy and works like a charm. There is a point past which this technique will no longer revive the bloom, but I’ve had it work 4-5 days after the hydrangeas were actually cut.

When cutting hydrangeas, take water to the garden in a container.
Immediately after cutting each bloom, drop the stem in the water.
Indoors, boil water and pour it into a cup or any container.
Cut the hydrangea stems to the desired length.
Stand the stems of the hydrangeas in the hot water for 30 seconds.
Immediately put into room temperature water and then arrange.

Using Alum Spice To Help Cut Hydrangeas

The alum used in this method can usually be found in the spice section of the grocery store. Occasionally it is found with the pickling supplies.
Plan to cut hydrangea blooms in the morning while the weather is cool.
Take a pitcher of water to the garden and drop bloom stems into water immediately after cutting them (important).
As you arrangement the blooms, recut the stems and dip the bottom 1/2 inch of stem into powdered alum.
Arrange as usual in water. (I know this washes off the alum, but it works!)

Reviving Wilted Blooms in an Arrangement:

If the water in the arrangement is more than a day old, change it for fresh water before beginning the revival process.
Re-cut the stems of the wilted hydrangeas by removing a portion at the bottom.
Use the Boiling Water Method: Boil water and pour it into a cup.
Stand the stems of the wilted hydrangeas in this water for 30 seconds.
Immediately put into room temperature water (this usually means back into the arrangement).
If the blooms are not too old, within a couple of hours they will have completely revived. Occasionally, the revival process will take several hours. In most cases, the blooms will look as fresh as the first day.
I don’t know if reviving hydrangeas after several days will work with the alum method.

Find all the most popular tips and tricks to revive your Wilted Hydrangea. This is your ultimate guide for learning how to Revive Wilting Hydrangea blooms!

We’ve all been there. We grab a pretty bundle of fluffy hydrangea blooms at the grocery store. Rush home, get them into a vase, only to find that they are soon droopy and sad-looking. What should have been days of enjoyment turns into a sad reminder of what could have been! It’s especially frustrating if you’re planning an event and the flowers are your decor!

Well, I can’t solve all the world’s problems, but I might be able to help with this one. Did you know that it’s possible to revive your wilted hydrangea? That’s right! When I shared this trick on Instagram the other day, I was surprised at the response and thought it would be worth a full post.

There are a couple tricks to try, and I’m going to lead you through the steps. It might not work every time, but if we can extend the life of these beautiful blooms, it’s worth a try, right?

Why Are My Hydrangea Wilting?

This might be a loaded question! Obviously your hydrangea could wilt for a multitude of reasons, whether they are plants in your garden or in a vase on your countertop. However, I think it helps to have some basic background on hydrangea as a whole. First of all, did you know that their very name originates from Greek and translates to “water vessel”? It’s important to step back and look at this bloom for the water-lover it really is!

With that in mind, it’s easier to understand the reason your hydrangea might be wilting! Yes, even when they are in a bucket or vase of water, they might need more water. Crazy, right? Read on!

Will Wilted Hydrangeas Come Back?

Yes they will! Can you see me over here doing my happy dance? It’s certainly not guaranteed but it’s generally a pretty incredible response to this simple treatment. Often, when I purchase grocery store blooms, it’s because I am entertaining. I don’t want the added stress of dealing with wilted blooms! (Get all my best tips for buying grocery store flowers right here.)

In the video, you can see that I attempted to revive a group of hydrangea blooms and while several came back, a few didn’t make it. However, I think if I’d had a little more patience (and some of the tricks I’m going to outline below) they might have made it as well! Learn how to design gorgeous hydrangea centerpieces right here.

How To Revive Wilted Hydrangea

It’s so simple!

  • First, re-cut your stem at a deep angle. This creates more of an opening for the bloom to soak up more water!
  • Remove all the leaves! I know, it’s sad. However, the foliage of the hydrangea actually steals the water from the bloom itself. You want to force all the water into the bloom.
  • Fill your sink or a deep bowl with water. Note: I have always used cool water, but many people believe warm water is better for this process. I’m guessing it works either way!
  • Dunk the heads of the hydrangeas right under the water. Leave them for at least 15 minutes! I have even seen tips from others that suggest leaving them submerged overnight.
  • When you remove them from the water, gently pat them dry with paper towels.
  • Did they bounce back? If so, pat yourself on the back and contemplate the beauty of nature!

Other Ways To Save Your Wilting Hydrangea

There are numerous theories floating around about reviving these beauties when they wilt and prolonging their vase life. While there are probably too many to list, let’s discuss a few!

  • Boil water. This trick is used to seal the end of the hydrangea stem. Simply give the bottom of the stem a fresh cut and dip them into a vessel of very hot water. Evidently, the plant’s sap can cut off their water supply and the boiling hot water can prevent this!
  • Alum. Many people swear by this! Give your hydrangeas a fresh cut, and dip the bottom of the stems in alum (found in your grocer’s spice aisle). This also prevents that sticky seal on the end of the stem, similar to the boiling water method!
  • Refrigeration. My florist friend Erin swears by this. After attempting your revival with soaking, pop the vase into the fridge for a little while. Something about the cold air perks them back up! You can also prolong the vase life of your hydrangeas this way, even when they are not wilted. Place your vases into the fridge overnight to help them last longer!
  • Smashing the stems. Another old florist’s hack, many people believe that smashing the ends of the stems (with a hammer or mallet) helps the woody stems soak up more water.
  • Fresh water. Change the vase water every day, or at least as often as you can! Again, hydrangeas thrive on extra water. You can also mist them daily to give them an extra boost!

What do you think? Are these old wives’ tales or can we depend on some of these tricks to save our beautiful hydrangea blooms? I can promise that the soaking method works, but I’d love to hear from readers! Have you used any of these tips or any of my other florist secrets? Please share in the comments!

Caring for a hydrangea is relatively easy as long as you plant a variety that will do well in your garden. Paying attention to this shrub’s ideal planting zones, sun and water requirements is really all that’s required to keep your hydrangea happy.

Hydrangea Care Guide

Keep your hydrangeas healthy by following some general guidelines for optimal blooms.

Light Requirements

Hydrangeas need full sun to partial shade. Full sun is defined as six or more hours of sunlight per day, with partial sun morning sunlight, followed by some dappled shade in the late afternoon or during the hottest part of the day. The only light conditions in which hydrangea won’t do well is full, dense shade.


Hydrangeas thrive in a wide variety of soil pH conditions, which also affects the color of the blooms.

  • Alkaline soil turns the flowers pink, so add a little lime to the soil if this is the color you want.
  • More acidic soil turns the flowers shades of blue, so work some used coffee grounds into the soil around the shrub’s base if this is the coloring you prefer.
  • Aluminum sulfate can also help produce blue bloom, but use it according to the directions on the label. Using too much will burn the shrub’s roots.

Hydrangeas do prefer a rich, loamy soil, so work in some good, well-rotted manure or compost into the soil before planting.


Since fertilizers may change soil pH slightly, they can also change the color of the blooms. Even a slight difference in pH may be all it takes to change a hydrangea’s color even a little bit. A balanced, slow-release fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 fertilizer, is fine for hydrangeas. Give them a little boost of fertilizer in the spring and perhaps once again in the summer, but do not fertilize after that.


Hydrangeas are slightly fussy about water.

  • Give them a good drink at least once a week.
  • Try not to let them dry out.
  • During droughts or long periods between natural rainfall, give the roots a good soak with the hose.
  • Consider installing a drip irrigation system to make it even easier to water well and often.

While hydrangeas need more water than most shrubs, they also do not like to sit in soggy soil. So, be sure to add compost prior to planting to give them the nutrient boost they need, as well as improve drainage naturally.

Planting Time

The best time to plant hydrangeas is in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. This gives the plants plenty of time to set down roots and get used to their new location without the day’s heat stressing them too much. If you’ve missed the window of opportunity in the spring, plant them in the fall, which also provides ample time for the plants to settle in before going dormant in the wintertime.


If you have a hydrangea bush in the landscape but want to move it, do so before the leaves grow in the springtime. Hydrangeas set down lots of little roots and have a large root ball, so be sure to dig around the hydrangea plant and take as much soil from its original location as possible to avoid disturbing the roots. Replant the hydrangea and keep it watered well through the transition period.


You can remove spent blooms or dead or sick branches at any time. Most hydrangeas produce flowers just fine without regular pruning, but they can be cut back if they get too big.

Depending on which type of hydrangea you choose, it may bloom on old wood or new growth.

  • Mopheads, lacecaps and oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on old wood, so it’s a good idea to prune these in the early summer (before August). They produce the stems that will make next year’s blooms though the late summer and fall.
  • The paniculatas bloom on new growth, so you can prune them nearly any time you want except in the month or so before they are set to bloom.
  • If you don’t know which kind of hydrangea you have, pruning in the early summer should be fine.


Hydrangeas like moist but not soggy conditions, so a layer of mulch added around the plants helps retain moisture. Not only does mulch conserve water, it will also give your landscape a nice appearance and suppress unsightly weeds.

Winter Protection

Smaller, potted hydrangeas should be brought inside before the coldest weather sets in. If the container is too large to move easily or your hydrangea is planted in the ground, you can wrap it with some light foam insulation secured with string.

Enjoy Your Hydrangea

Hydrangeas provide showy blossoms for weeks in the spring before they fade, so enjoy them while you can. You can cut them for indoor bouquets or even dry them and keep them in year round arrangements. Even after the blooms are gone, the large dark green leaves still make hydrangeas an attractive landscape shrub during the rest of the growing season.

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