Regular Al
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Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:09 pm
Location: Raleigh, N.C.

New Hydrangea Not doing well...

Hello All,
I just planted a hydrangea and as you can see it's not doing well. It's been in the ground about 2 weeks.
I did water it as we've had NO rain here in the south. Could I have given it too much water?

My soil is concrete/clay. I amended the soil with some bagged soil from Home Depot and mixed into the clay.
But my earth is so hard that I have to chip at it with pick axe.

It's getting about 2-3 hours of sun a day and that is mostly filtered but with the leaves falling it will get more.
Should I move it to a sunnier spot? Should I plant it entirely in bagged soil on top of the clay?

Thanks,
Al
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Raleigh, N.C.

luis_pr
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Re: New Hydrangea Not doing well...

Hello, Al. No rain, ugh! Sounds like here until 4 days ago! I would surmise that the plant is undergoing transplant shock aaand needs more water.

Wilting of leaves is a plant mechanism that hydrangeas use when they perspire moisture faster than they can absorb water thru the roots. It is very common in the summer months, on windy days, and should eventually be reduced when the plant becomes established in the garden... another way for saying once it develops a bigger root system that lets it absorb more water faster. Right now, its root system got pruned so the plant would fit into one of those plastic pots so, when it is hot or windy, it cannot get enough water as fast as needed.

Wilting episodes typically look bad but the plant should be able to return back to normal in the evening provided the soil is moist. If the soil is not moist, I then immediately add it 1/2 to 1 gallon of water from the crown outwards. Remember that its root system is mostly near the crown so try to water from there outwards. If I see a very bad looking wilting episode, I immediately water but if it seems like it is "the usual", I use my finger to ck the soil moisture and water only if dry or almost dry.

To determine if the plant needs to be watered, insert a finger into the soil early in the morning to a depth of 4" and determine if the soil feels dry, moist or wet. If it feels dry, water the shrub. If it feels moist, skip watering. If it feels wet, you may want to check why (did it just rain? or did the sprinkler go off? or is there some problem?).

On a new plant, I start with 1 gallon of water per watering in Spring. In late May, we get into the 90s here so I increase the amount of water to 1.5 gallons. In July, we hit daily 100s so I tweak things again. By the end of September, I reduce the waterings back to Spring levels. And once the plant goes dormant, I water it every two weeks if it has been dry (the soil does not freeze here). But note that prior to watering, I use the finger method to check if watering is necessary. Since it was planted just two weeks ago, you may want to keep an eye on soil moisture during the winter too as the leaves will eventually brown out, wilting episodes will not occur and you will not notice when it needs water. Keep the plant well mulched year around to help conserve moisture; about 2-4" of organic mulch up to the drip line is fine. I use hardwood mulch but others are fine too.

The finger method can be used daily for 2-3 weeks. Each time you water, you can make a note on a wall calendar. After 2-3 weeks, review the information on the calendar and average out how often you were watering. For example, you may have been watering every 3 days, every 4 days, etc. Then set the springkler to water the shrub 1 gallon of water per watering every 3/4/etc days in Spring (or 1.5 to 2 gallons in the Summer). The amt of water will vary based on winds, weather, type of soil and how fast it drains. It would be nice if when you watered, the water got down to about 8" of depth. Hydrangeas have tiny roots in the top 4" that absorb most of the water so try to keep the soil there as evenly moist as you can with the finger method. If your weather changes or the temps change 10-15 degrees and stay there, consider rechecking with the finger method to see if you need to tweak things.

The amount of sun sounds fine. You can probably give it summer sun until 11am-ish with few problems. In the Spring, the sun is "weaker" so it does not matter if it gets more sun than usual. Same thing happens during the Fall and Winter. Hydrangeas (mopheads and lacecaps) like morning sun & after/evening shade; dappled sun; full shade (but bright shade).

I also have black clay soil but I originally amended the planting beds with organic compost and-or composted manure. Still keep adding more of these every Spring but now it is usually just mulch: https://www.thespruce.com/understanding ... il-2539857

Luis

Regular Al
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Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:09 pm
Location: Raleigh, N.C.

Re: New Hydrangea Not doing well...

Thanks so much Luis for a very thorough and helpful response. I copied your answer to my notes for future ref.

This morning before I saw your reply I decided to move the plant to a new spot that gets a bit more sun but not a lot more.
After digging it up I noticed that it still was quite dry especially near the crown even though I've watered it about 3 times
with a lot of water. Probably more than a gallon each time but I didn't pay attention to the crown and maybe that's why
it looks bad. The new hole was like the old, very tough digging, hard clay. I added bagged planting soil to the bottom and put the plant on top and filled that hole with water. I'll follow your watering directions from now on. I didn't realize how much water they needed. I did get down at least 8'' of depth. Our leaves are falling so it's going to get more sun.

I just put in 3 deutzias and they probably have same problem as that hydrangea.
I think I'll move an alzalea to that spot the hydrangea had.

Compost question: Since I have tons of oak trees can I make leaf mold in place of manure?
Al
Raleigh, N.C.

luis_pr
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Re: New Hydrangea Not doing well...

The azalea will probably have the same sun and water requirements as a hydrangea. I have not tried deutzias so let us know how they do. In my black clay soil, I water it before I am going to dig into it and that helps. Just saying... ;o) If the clay soil becomes a big issue for the plant, you may want to switch and grow it in pots, a raised bed, etc.

You could use leaf mold too. I just get the composted manure bags from Lowes. You can also use organic compost.

Regular Al
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Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:09 pm
Location: Raleigh, N.C.

Re: New Hydrangea Not doing well...

Thanks for all.

Al
Raleigh, N.C.

Regular Al
Full Member
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:09 pm
Location: Raleigh, N.C.

Re: New Hydrangea Not doing well...

Wow. After one day of watering the hydrangea looks fabulous. Totally recovered. I assume its the watering and not the new spot with a bit more sun. I'd like to move it back to the original location but it would be easy prey for deer. But now it's near two camelias and I don't like the spacing but oh well.

The azalea is very old and established but in the total shade so I think I'll move that or a native woody tree like a fir that came up in the front yard to that new unused hole. Any thoughts?

I have so many oak trees that I'm thinking of building a compost bin with wood and all and making it a big production facility
and producing a lot of leaf mold.

Today the nursery recommended an anise tree and said it was good with shade. Excited to find something for shade that is light colored.

AL
Raleigh, N.C.

luis_pr
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Posts: 815
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:31 pm
Location: Hurst, TX USA Zone 7b/8a

Re: New Hydrangea Not doing well...

Ha, yes, I have seen that type of "behavior" from my water stressed hydrangeas in the summer too. If you have had deer issues in the old location then leave it in the new location. And feel free to move it again if some other problem crops up with the new locations. I guess you could say that hydrangeas are naturally used to being moved at least once when young until we find the "right" spot. Been there; done that!

Unless the azalea has fungal issues, has spindly growth or is not blooming, I would move the new tree to the now unused planting site provided you can research if the root system will compete with the nearby plants for water and fertilizer. I typically take a ppicture and show it to a plant nursery person to help me identify the shrub or tree. Fir trees have a nice tap root that should not bother other shrubs. It does have some lateral roots too but these tend to grow slightly downwards. But you do not know which kind of tree this is so, see if you can identify it and determine if the roots will compete with other plants nearby.

I have not seen an anise tree but it is native to the NC area so it may be a good choice!

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