The bright blooms of the Hydrangea, big and bold, deserve to stand tall, not wilted down to lie in the mud.
But, regardless of the type, heavy rain can cause these otherwise easy-to-please plants to flop flat on the ground.
The most common causes of Hydrangea falling over are poor site selection, poor growing techniques, and adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain. Hydrangeas wilt when they are subjected to the downward pressure of rain. Changes in the amount of water your plants receive, or a lack of water, can also cause wilting leaves.
If you stake your plants and prune them carefully, you can keep this from happening.
Problems With Wilting Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas are a top-heavy plant. But, in ideal conditions, they grow quickly, producing masses of glossy leaves and dramatic, long-lasting flowers in large groups that often weigh more than you’d think!
Thick foliage and heavy flower heads become soaked in wet weather. Consider how heavy a wet sweater is when you’re caught in the rain, and you’ll get an idea of what’s going on here.
All that water adds significantly to the weight at the top of the plant, causing it to fall to the ground.
Despite the loads they typically bear, hydrangea stems are not particularly strong. However, they are malleable and will bend rather than break.
Although it appears to be a disaster, these flexible stems are just one of the Hydrangea’s many clever ways of keeping those big blooms in top shape.
Bending rather than breaking the bush will always allow it to recover from all but terrifying downpours.
In addition, a flexible stem shields the Hydrangea from damage and ensures that it will survive another storm.
What this means for the average gardener is that once your floppy Hydrangea has had a chance to dry out, it will rise back up from its lowly position.
Heres’ How to Stop Hydrangeas From Wilting
While it’s perfectly natural and nothing to worry about, a rain-wilted Hydrangea isn’t looking its best.
If you don’t want to deal with the ups and downs of what should be a perennial garden favorite, you can use a few tricks to keep them upright in any weather.
Your first and most straightforward option is to provide some extra assistance. This will keep your Hydrangea upright and out of the mud while it dries again.
There are a few different approaches you can take, so let’s look at your best options.
A tomato cage is a round wire structure that wraps around the Hydrangea in a hug-like fashion.
They’re made to withstand the weight of fruiting tomato vines and are an excellent choice for Hydrangeas that are just getting started.
They’re easy to set up and don’t require any ties or wires to keep the plant in place.
Wrap the cage around the Hydrangea, and the stalks will be well supported no matter which way they rest. (Check out the Amazon prices here)
However, they are not a good choice for more enormous Hydrangeas because they can be challenging to get over a larger plant.
For more mature Hydrangeas, stake individual branches one at a time. Bamboo stakes are a flexible option because they can be worked into the bush and placed alongside any branch.
You won’t even notice them, mainly if you go with a natural stake. They appear to be any other branch. (Check out the Amazon prices here)
There is, however, a small amount of additional work involved in securing your Hydrangea with a soft tie.
But, again, synthetic materials are the best, and I think worn-out stockings cut into strips are the best way to go about it.
Trellises are a good middle ground between a stake and a cage in strength and flexibility.
They can support larger plants, making them an impressive garden feature. Set up your trellis parallel to the Hydrangea and tie the larger branches to it.
In contrast to a cage or stake, they have the disadvantage of being less stable overall.
Ensure your trellis is well-anchored before adding any branches, and ensure it’s tough to even after a storm has passed.
A fence is the best option if you’re looking for something that will provide you with years of reliable support.
In addition to offering support to Hydrangeas, placing potted Hydrangeas next to a fence will also brighten up the area around the wall, making it more visually appealing.
This is, of course, a long-term solution that not everyone can afford to take advantage of.
However, adding a few strategically placed Hydrangeas can make a big difference for homeowners with a sturdy fence that could use some sprucing up.
Choose Hydrangeas with Thicker Stems
All Hydrangeas aren’t the same. Many cultivars have been developed to bloom on old growth to better support the massive displays for which the species is well-known.
If you live in an area prone to heavy downpours regularly, one of these varieties may be worth considering.
Consider the Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), one of the most popular cultivars, for its sturdiness and dependability. It’s hardy and reliable.
The Smooth Hydrangea (H. arborescens), which blooms from new growth in the spring, is a more lateral approach.
Because it thrives on regular trimming, you can keep those big flowers on new, vigorous stems less likely to fall.
Keep Hydrangeas Away From Heavy Rains And Storms
One of the advantages of growing Hydrangeas in pots is that they can be moved around in bad weather.
You can avoid wilting a potted hydrangea in the rain by simply keeping it from getting wet in the first place!
During heavy rain and storms, it’s a good idea to move your Hydrangeas inside or to a covered porch or patio.
Be on the lookout for clouds in the forecast, and bring them in if you see them there.
And if you’ve decided to take a rich rainwater shower with your indoor Hydrangea, don’t worry if it wilts. In no time at all, they’ll bounce back.
When a potted hydrangea is exposed to rain and doesn’t recover within a few days, it’s good to look into other possible reasons for the plant’s demise.
What causes indoor hydrangeas to wilt? I go into more detail about that topic here.
Hydrangea pruning can be a bit of an art form. First, you want to cut off the stems that are too long.
When you cut them, they don’t flower as much. You should also pay attention to the variety you have, as some flowers only appear on older branches, while others only appear on newly sprouted ones.
However, there are real advantages to reducing their size. First, it strengthens the plant’s growth by removing weak stems.
Having fewer tall stems that bend from the weight of the plant also helps keep the hydrangea compact.
When to prune hydrangeas
As a rule of thumb, pruning in the spring is the best time. Avoid cutting off new growth before it has a chance to develop.
However, to remove any branches that have been damaged during the harsh winter months, you can use this time.
Then, by the summer blooming season arrives, you’ll have the best chance of sturdily growing plants.
Also, keep in mind the variety of Hydrangea you have. Most types only require a light trimming back of the oldest and most worn-out branches.
In general, aim to trim no more than one-third of the length of the branch and work to thin and shorten the bush.
You should avoid the new spring growth and focus on the plant’s older, less productive areas.
Make sure to remove the blossoms as the summer progresses. The Hydrangea will be able to put its energy into producing new leaves due to the deadheading.
If you have older Hydrangeas that don’t bloom well or look unkempt, a hard pruning of all branches down to the ground will help.
Even though the Hydrangea won’t produce any blooms the following year, you’ll find that it will bloom magnificently in the future thanks to its stronger branches that are less likely to fall in the rain. (Source: University of Maryland)
Plant Hydrangeas At Appropriate Distances
Hydrangeas dislike being crowded. They require a large amount of space to establish their roots properly and grow deeper into the ground.
Having their feet planted firmly and deeply in the ground is the best way for these sassy beauties to hold their own.
Take into consideration how much room the roots of new Hydrangeas need when planting them. Keep them about three feet apart (90cm).
Newly Planted Hydrangeas Wilting
Seeing a newly planted Hydrangea wilting and nodding can be demoralizing.
Newly transplanted Hydrangeas are likely to wilt regardless of the weather, as they are susceptible to transplant shock.
If you move a Hydrangea from its pot to a new location, you risk damaging the plant’s fragile root system.
A wound has been inflicted on the most delicate roots, and they can no longer draw water from the ground. As a result of the lack of water, the plant begins to wilt.
It takes time for the deep, strong roots I mentioned earlier to develop.
Likewise, it takes time for any relocated plant to regrow its damaged roots and establish itself in the soil again.
What Can Be Done To Fix This?
Plant At The Right Time Of Year
It’s critical to get your new Hydrangeas off to a good start by planting them in the right season.
Plant in the late spring, when the weather is warm but not oppressive so that the plants have time to grow.
This gives them time to get used to their new surroundings before the summer heat sets in.
Their roots will be deep and robust during the growing season, allowing them to take advantage of the summer growing season.
It’s also good to regularly give your newly planted Hydrangea a good drink.
Heavy rain can cause the same wilting of Hydrangeas caused by dehydration.
Avoid wilting by taking care of all your bases and keeping them well hydrated.
Keep the soil moist when transplanting hydrangeas, especially in the early stages of their growth.
To recover and develop new, strong roots, they require regular watering in the early stages of development.
If you want to get as many flowers as possible from your Hydrangea, you should be careful how much fertilizer you use on it.
For newly planted Hydrangeas, poor fertility can lead to a weak plant and unable to grow thick, strong branches, although this is true for older plants.
It’s essential to give new plants a helping hand in their early days.
Some growers will even dig a giant hole than necessary for their new Hydrangeas and backfill with rich potting soil, such as one blended for roses or other heavy feeders.
However, a generous application of slow-release granules right after planting should be sufficient for most gardeners. I recommend using Organic Holly-tone for your potted and garden hydrangeas.
I’d also recommend sprinkling 3-5 inches of mulch liberally. Hydrangeas need time to establish deep, vigorous roots, and a layer of up to five inches thick will keep the soil in good condition.
In addition, soil hydration and slow fertilization are improved by using a thick layer of mulch.
Last but not least, it will keep any wilted flower heads from getting stuck in the mud.
Even though it’s a good idea for more mature plants, it’s an absolute necessity for new ones.
If you do this, the soil will stay nice and moist, which is perfect for Hydrangeas that have just been planted.
Choose The Right Location
Hydrangeas prefer a burst of early morning sunlight, but they require afternoon shade to thrive. Keeping them out of the path of strong winds is also a must.
If your newly planted Hydrangea is left out in the sun or exposed to the elements, it will suffer the same wilting after a heavy rainstorm.
How to Fix Drooping Hydrangea Plants
- Select a hydrangea variety that is well-suited to your growing conditions.
- Keep potted Hydrangeas away from inclement weather, such as heavy rain or windy storms.
- Use tomato cages, stakes, trellises, or fences to support outdoor Hydrangeas.
- Trim away dead flowers and branches regularly and prune back older, weaker growth.
- Make sure that newly planted Hydrangeas are fertilized and thoroughly mulched.