11 Problems With Hydrangeas in Pots (Solutions Included!)

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Growing potted hydrangeas can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, that also comes with its own set of challenges. Problems with hydrangeas in pots can be yellowed leaves, withered flowers, loss of the freshness of the plant, dealing with pests and diseases, etc.

There are many factors to consider when growing hydrangeas in pots. Here are some: choosing the right pot size and soil type, ensuring adequate drainage, and providing adequate sunlight.

 This article will discuss some of the common problems and how to address them. So enjoy the ride.

First Things Frist

Before we start considering the problems with hydrangeas in pots, let’s see important things for your plants to progress nicely. This implies a suitable pot and soil.

Suitable Pot

Pink and slightly purple hydrangeas in a grey container attached to the outside of the house

My recommendation is to use a larger pot, because of the roots that grow fast and fill the space. Such roots quickly use nutrients from the soil of the pot. Get a medium to large size container, at least 2 feet wide.

Small pots dry out very quickly, which does not suit hydrangeas. This can cause poor drainage. Then the roots also dry out fast. So better a larger pot to keep the soil moist.

The pot should have holes in the bottom to allow the water to drain. When watering, the water should flow nicely through the soil and out through the drainage holes.

The material from which the pot is made off is important. There are materials that retain water or that dry very quickly (cannot retain water). It is best to use a terracotta or fiberglass pot.

You may enjoy the related article “Spathiphyllum Care (Peace Lily)-The Ultimate Guide”.

Potting Soil

Hydrangeas require special soil. If the soil in the garden is of poor quality, it is better to put your plant in a pot.

Basically, you can’t just take the soil from the garden. Such soil can be very heavy and can retain water, that is, it does not drain well. That will eventually lead to root rot. 

So the hydrangeas do not like wet soil, because it rots the roots. On the other hand, the soil should be constantly moist. 

 It is important to choose a good potting mix that is light and holds water effectively. This soil should not be clay type.
Tip: Add the compost to the soil for nutrients. 

Problems With Hydrangeas in Pots: Problem Nr. 1 – Inadequate Light

Hydrangeas in pots in your home generally love morning sun and afternoon shade. Avoid direct sunlight, as this can dry out the soil. Provide your plant with 6 hours of exposure to sunlight. 

Hydrangeas outdoors prefer full sunlight, but strong wind bothers them. Find a sheltered spot outside for your plant.

If the lighting is not adequate, it can lead to a droopy plant. In the end, the plant can completely wither, if you do not take certain measures.

Problem Nr. 2 – Water 

What happens when your hydrangea does not get enough water or when there is too much water? Let’s see.

Lack of water

Hydrangeas cannot survive for a long time without water. This plant is usually watered twice a week. Of course, it depends on the type of hydrangeas or the size of the pot. In any case, water the plant well, at least once a week.

If the leaves are droopy, it usually means that your hydrangea needs water. Lack of water can lead to wilting of the plant itself and its decay.

Too much water

Excess water in the soil can occur for several reasons:

  • if you water the plant too often.
  • if you use a larger amount of water when watering than you should.
  • when the drainage is not adequate.

All this can lead to chlorosis or yellowing of the leaves. This condition can result in the destruction of the plant itself.

Before watering, check the soil condition to avoid overwatering. Insert your finger into the soil to see if it is dry or wet.

Reduce the frequency of watering or reduce the amount of water when watering.

Also, increase the number of drainage holes. It is best to put small pebbles at the bottom of the pot, it increases the drainage.

When placing the plant in the soil, leave it two inches from the top of the soil to the top of the pot. You do this to prevent overwatering. Gently press the soil around the plant to remove air pockets.

RELATED ARTICLE: Read “Rhaphidophora Decursiva: Care Guide”. 

Problem Nr. 3 – Leaf Issues

Let’s see what problems can affect the leaves of your hydrangea.

Yellowed Leaves

The reasons for this can be rotting off the roots, improper watering, and inadequate drainage.

Check whether and how much you water your plant. Do not water more than necessary.

We have already talked about drainage. If the water is not drained well, it can lead to root rot.

Tip: Before watering the flowers, check with your finger that the soil is dry. Only then you can water your plant.

Droopy Leaves

Here is usually about improper watering of the plant. Watering twice a week is usual, but that also depends on many factors.

 Also, hydrangeas need to constantly have moist soil, but never wet soil.

Edges of Leaves Turning Brown

The reason may be the excessive use of fertilizers so that the roots burn.

 The fertilizer contains the salt aluminum sulfate. This salt is added to the soil to change the color of the flowers. But if there is too much of it, it can damage the roots. As a result, the edges of the leaves turn brown.

 If this is the condition at the beginning, flash soil with water to wash away all that aluminum sulfate.

Holes in the Leaves

You can often see holes in the leaves of your hydrangea. The cause of this inconvenience is pests.

The flies lay eggs on the underside of the leaves. When the eggs hatch the larvae emerge and then they eat the leaves.

Check the plant from time to time, especially the underside of the leaf.

If you notice any damage, then apply a chemical agent. Instead, you can use a companion plan to invite useful pests that will feed on flies larvae, or eggs.

Read on to learn more about pests.

Problem Nr. 4 – Yellowed or Brown Hydrangeas/ Wilted Hydrangeas

If your hydrangeas begin to turn yellow or have already taken on a brown color, the reasons may be high outside temperature, frost damage, root rot, or too much fertilizer.

If the flowers turn brown during the summer heat, then the plant is drying out. During the warm months, hydrangea should be watered regularly, the soil should be kept moist.

 It’s good to put a layer of mulch around the plant, and even to move the plant to a more pleasant place.

Wilted pink hydrangeas

Image by Andreas from Pixabay

Maybe you have noticed that your hydrangeas look wilted. The reasons for this may be lack of water, high outside temperature, or insufficient lighting.

Note: As the end of the blooming season approaches, the flowers slowly dry out and begin to wither naturally.

Problem Nr. 5 – Fertilization

The best time to fertilize your plants is late winter and early spring. I recommend using slow-release fertilizer for woody plants.

Too much fertilizer can burn the roots of your plant. The leaves may turn brown, as said before. This applies especially to fertilizers that contain a lot of nitrogen. The plant will droop, and eventually produce fewer flowers.

Therefore, adjust the frequency and amount of fertilizer according to the needs of your plant.

Problem Nr. 6 – The Ambient Temperature

Usually, the temperature in the house is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius). For hydrangeas, a slightly lower temperature of 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 16 degrees Celsius) is better.

High temperatures lead to rapid loss of moisture. Then the hydrangea leaves lose their freshness and become droopy. The petals of the flowers begin to fall.

When the nights are warm, above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius), bring the plant inside.

Also, when it is very cold outside, better bring hydrangeas inside or cover them.

Problem Nr. 7 – Frost damage

Properly drawn blue snowflake with 6 spokes

This can be one of the problems with hydrangeas in pots outdoors.

In locations where late spring frosts or early fall frosts occur, hydrangeas turn brown and may turn black over time. New shoots are usually affected. 

Care during the winter

Hydrangeas that are outside should be protected. You can move them to a place where there are no extreme frosts. That can be a garage, balcony, or patio. 

 In early spring, new shoots will grow. They are specially prone to frost damage. They can become dark, blacken, and may not flower.

 Hydrangeas have large roots, also prone to frost damage. In that case, cover and protect the pots. Tip: You can water the pots before the frost. That helps.

Before the ground freezes, you can dig a hole in the ground in your garden and bury the pot with your hydrangea there. It should look like it is buried in the ground.

 You may also  surround the pot with insulating materials, a ball of hay, or straw.

Problem Nr. 8 – Reduced Growth and Flowering

The reason for this problem can be poor soil fertility. The soil needs a lot of nutrients, from fertilizers or compost.

Fertilize the plant regularly, because the roots use nutrients from the soil very quickly.

Hydrangeas bloom once a year for many weeks. To what extent the plant will bloom depends a lot on the pH of the soil.

Alkaline soils (PH 7 and above) give lavender-colored flowers. Acidic soil (PH 6 and below) give yields blue flowers.

Problem Nr. 9 – Pests

One of the problems with hydrangeas in pots can be pests. Hydrangeas are usually free of pests. However, let’s see which uninvited guests mostly attack these plants in the garden, but also in pots.


These pests are responsible for the yellowing of the stems and the leaves. They can also transmit diseases from plant to plant.

Aphids are insects, usually green in color, but they can also be brown, yellow, or black. They have long antennae.

 Most often they can be found on the underside of the leaves. You can’t notice them so easily since they are similar in color to the plant itself. But if your plant starts to turn yellow then look for them.

 If there is an infected plant nearby, remove it to prevent appearance of aphids. You can remove these insects by hand. Using insecticidal soup is also effective.

Black Vine Weevil

Macro shot of a Weevil with orange stripes on a blue textile

The larvae of this pest eat the roots of the hydrangea. The plant begins to turn yellow from below and slowly dies. Black adults can be seen on the leaf before the eggs hatch.

Here it is best to use a pesticide. Remember: Do not use pesticides while the plant is blooming in order to keep pollinators safe.

Four-Lined Plant Bug

These bugs live mainly in the plant tissue of hydrangeas. They are also found in many other plants.

 When four-lined plant bugs hatch, they cling to the plant and start biting the leaves. These pests leave behind small damages on the plant. The older they are, the more damage they cause. 

You can notice brown holes all over the feeding area, usually appearing in the cluster. These bugs will not destroy the your hydrangea, but they will spoil its aesthetic appearance to some extent.

 When you notice four-lined plant bugs shake them off the leaves. For prevention and control, use insecticidal soap or neem.


This is a type of moth that can be brown or white in color. Leaftiers lay eggs on the branches. When the caterpillars hatch, they produce silk that binds several leaves together. Then they start eating the leaves.

 If you notice webbed and damaged leaves on your plant, separate the leaves and remove the caterpillars by hand.

Japanese Beetle

Japanese beetle on the leaf

This pest is a frequent problem on oakleaf hydrangeas. It is not found in other types of hydrangeas.

 Adults cause more damage to the plant. They have green or blue heads and copper-colored backs.

 It is easiest to control them while they are still in the larval stage. In almost every garden center you can find a spray that kills the adult forms of these pests. Be sure not to use pesticides while the hydrangeas are blooming to keep pollinators safe.


These are definitely the most dangerous pests for hydrangeas. They live in the soil destroying the roots of our plants and then they go towards the stem.

How to notice them? Your hydrangea will take on an inexplicable yellow color and will begin to wither during the summer.

You may think that the plant needs to be watered more. If you water the plant and there is not much success, then nematodes are the problem.

In order to prevent, make sure that the soil is not too wet. Also, the scissors should be clean and sterile when trimming the plant. Nematodes are otherwise transmitted through infected tools.

You can also find nematode control in garden centers.

Rose Chafer

Close-up of an insect rose chafer on a green leaf

Adult forms of rose chafer beetle are green in color with long legs. A lot of these pests can be found in soil that is sandy. They do not tolerate well draining soils that are rich in compost.

Rose chafer beetles can damage the roots, similar to Japanese beetles. They lay eggs in topsoil. These pests attack sun-loving hydrangea varieties because they like to lay their eggs in sunny areas.

You can remove them by hand or using a soapy water. However, it’s a temporary solution, because they can reappear.

For grubs would be better to use grub killer.

Hydrangea Scale

These pests are very small and yellow in color.  Hydrangea scale is an insect that sucks the sap from plants.

These brownish-whitish creatures can be seen on the leaf of your hydrangea. They lead to a sickly appearance of the plant, loss of leaves, and less flowering.

They do not leave any major damage, your hydrangea will not die because of it. You can remove them by hand.


Brown slug in close-up on the ground with whitish pebbles

They occur in areas with high humidity and moderate temperatures. Slugs attack the leaves of young hydrangeas.

Keep the garden clear of plant debris. If you notice ragged edged leaves and holes in the leaves, it is probably slugs.

They like to hide in dark places. Make sure that the leaves are dry, and water only the base of the plant.

You can spray with soapy water to remove slugs, or remove them by hand. A good idea is to put marigolds nearby, as these creatures do not like them.

Spider Mite

This insect is common in gardens. It attacks plants that do not like dry air and heat. 

Spider mites are very tiny and use webbing to protect themselves and their eggs. You can notice this webbing in your hydrangea.

 To prevent their appearance, water the plant regularly. Also, apply mulch to keep the soil moist. As a last resort use insecticidal soap.

Problem Nr. 10 –  Fungal Diseases

Usually, hydrangeas should not be placed next to other plants because fungal diseases can occur. Let’s take a closer look.

Botrytis blight

This disease is also known as gray mold. It attacks flowers, buds, and leaves. The attacked plant parts begin to deform and take on a brown color.

Brown dots and spots can first be seen on the flowers of your hydrangea. Affected parts of the plant are most often covered with a gray mold.


It forms leaf spots. This disease appears as small round gray spots with reddish margins.


At the beginning, orange spots appear on the underside of the leaves. After that, all the leaves can turn yellow and fall. This fungal disease is caused by water splashing onto the leaves.

Check the underside of the leaves from time to time. Water the base of your hydrangea, not the leaves, so that water does not fall on them. Cut the damaged leaves.

If it is a bigger problem, use a fungicide. But if you want to avoid using chemicals, there are some tricks. For example, cut old stems, then more air is created, etc.

Powdery mildew

This is a fungal leaf disease. Leaves slowly become gray with a powdery coating. It occurs when there are large temperature changes (hot days and cold nights).

Therefore, water the base of the plant, not the leaves. Cut the damaged leaves. If it’s a bigger problem, buy Neem oil. It is a naturally occurring pesticide, which is found in seeds from the neem tree.

Problem Nr. 11 –  Pruning

Purple hydrangeas in a pot outside

Actually, the hydrangea does not really need to be pruned. Be careful doing this. With these plants, the only method of pruning should be “deadheading”.

Do that at the right time. Otherwise, instead of improving, it can damage the plant.

If you prune the hydrangea too much, then it is exposed and left unprotected from the cold and frost.

Specially, don’t prune smaller hydrangeas excessively.


As you have seen, some complications can occur when growing hydrangeas in pots.

That includes inadequate light, problems related to watering, leaf issues, yellowed or brown hydrangeas, pests, and much more.

Here you could also learn about possible solutions for each problem.

Using this article related to the problems with hydrangeas in pots, start solving various situations yourself when growing your favorite flowers.

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