Friday, May 30, 2014

Help please! Oakleaf hydrangea....

The first 2 pics are of my wonderful oakleaf hydrangea last April, and then in mid-June.

I've trained this long-limbed beauty up some tall stakes.  It shows the plant better, allows for more air-flow in that corner of the bed, and makes it easier to give it an annaul cup of Hollytone around the base every spring.

It's been just glorious for 5-6 years.

But something has gone horribly wrong with it.

Sure it was a long winter.  But it's seen snow, wind, ice, sub-freezing temps before.

It's seen drought.

It's seen abundant rain (remember 2011?? 60" of the stuff!)

It gets good light and winter protection.

But this year --

It started budding out in April per usual, then when the leaves were only 3-4" long, growth ceased

The leaves hang, dangling like earrings.  There is no firmness to them.

I looked up armillaria root rot, but I do not see any signs such as amber mushrooms in the yard, not any tendrils/shoestrings on the roots near the base of the stem (with is bare and woody, showing no bark).

Can anyone help me identify the problem/disease?  I see no gnaw marks on the base of the plants.

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.  Thanks!

Click pics to enlarge for more detail.

========== Follow up - the lack of bark on the main trunk was the culprit.  The shrub died.  I dug it up and will replace with another oak leaf hydrangea.


  1. Hi Kris, just stopping in to say HI!
    Wish I could help with your plant problem but I have no clue. We lost more lilacs this year due to the harsh cold, they just shriveled up and died. Have you called your local extension office? They love to solve plant issues.

  2. Kris, are you talking about the shrub oakleaf hydrangea. I grow mine out in the middle of the shrub border just as a bush. Training it has me confused.

    I don't know the answer to it's sickness, but we have a sapling Kolreuteria tree growing along the drive that begun by drooping leaves and no new growth. It is now dead...I am cutting it down. I have no idea what happened. Usually you can't kill one even by cutting it down since it comes back from roots.

    1. I had a gorgeous crabapple next to the house. About 4 years ago, just after a full bloom, I happened to notice that inside room was very bright. I looked outside. The crabapple was dead! Toast! And after all those flowers. Just up-n-died as they say. One thing I noticed next to the hydrangea, I lost a good hosta, and the crabapple there has yellowing leaves. All are next to the gas meter. I'm going to call the gas company to come out and have a sniffer test around it. Maybe gas is leaking into the soil?

  3. If there is a pattern of plants dying in that area, then it sounds like a leak to me. I'd definitely have the gas company come out. I'd also send out a soil test. Whatever the cause, it's systemic and soil borne. If they are at fault, they need to replace the shrub at full replacement value for an equal sized plant.

  4. Wish I could help :{

    I have a bed where supposedly tough plants die. First it was asparagus (OK, not the same bed but one a couple of feet away), next the rhubarb, and this year a buddelia and a tree peony have given up. It's no more exposed or wet than anywhere else. I prepped the soil myself . . . and given how well everything else grows here, it's one big mystery.

  5. I tried replying to this awhile back and something fritzed out. Lets try again... This was such a wonderful winter for those of us who love the cold and snow, but so many plants did not fare well. I lost a variegated hydrangea, three butterfly bushes, a 'Sensation' lilac, a David Austin rose, and I forget what else... I thought the peach tree was a goner, but it's making a slow recovery. The peach tree and two of the three cherry trees didn't bother to bloom. I've decided the coral bark Japenese maple that so many people have stopped and asked about over the years probably isn't going to make it. And now the toughest plant in the garden, one of my Asian pears, looks like it took a hit....the leaves are small, and the fruit is wilting. :-(

    Some things actually seem to have done great - mostly things that spend the winter more under ground than above - the asparagus, the peonies, the clematis.... (Although now I'm seeing some odd wilt on a couple of the clematis as well)

    While I'd love for more snowy winters like this past one, maybe we can get a compromise where it's not so hard on the plants.


Thank you for visiting. I appreciate your notes, comments and questions and will try to reply to each one! :-)