Why Your Hydrangea Is Turning Brown

Last Updated on November 20, 2022 by Stephanie

The most common reason that hydrangea flowers and leaves change color is due to the fact that they are losing water than the roots draw up. Wind can take moisture away from the leaves, causing them to brown and then curl up. Insufficient moisture around the roots causes the leaves and flowers to change color.

The most common causes for flowers and hydrangea leaves becoming brown:

  • Hydrangea require that the soil remain humid. Dry soil can cause the flowers and leaves to brown and then wilt.
  • The excessive wind drains moisture from leaves faster than roots may draw in moisture and cause the leaves to brown and curl up.
  • The flowers and leaves of hydrangeas in pots will turn brown if the pot isnt big enough and it dries too fast.
  • The suns rays can burn the leaves of hydrangeas and turn their brown and crisp in appearance.
  • Fertilizer burns cause the edges of the leaves of hydrangeas to turn brown.
  • A cold snap in the Spring could cause the newly emerging flowers and leaves to become brown and soft.
  • Leaf spot fungus caused by the overhead watering can create brown spots on the leaves of hydrangeas.

Read on to find out the reason why your hydrangeas leaves and flowers are becoming brown, and the best strategies to bring back your flowering hydrangea…

Hydrangea Leaves and Flowers Turning Brown and Wilting

The reason why hydrangea leaves turning brown and flowers is due to the fact that the hydrangea is losing more water from its leaves than it draws upwards at the roots. When the ground around roots are not always moist, the hydrangeas leaves and flowers begin to turn brown and then wilt, in a sign of stress.

Wind also drains enough water from the vast surface area of the leaves, even when the soil is damp close to the root. The hydrangea flowers and leaves may still become brown and curly because the roots arent able to absorb and replenish the water loss quickly enough to replace the water loss from the leaves.

The soil of the hydrangea needs to hold plenty of moisture within the root zone.

If theyre in sandy, dry or stony soils, then the water drains too fast for the roots of the hydrangea to absorb the water they require, which could be the reason for the leaves of your hydrangea becoming brown and dying.

There isnt a universally accepted guidelines for watering Hydrangeas since it is dependent on weather, climate and other factors like the age of the hydrangea plant, but hydrangeas must be kept hydrated (with an extensive irrigation) frequently to ensure that the soil remains damp.

In the summer months, the year, it could be essential to water your hydrangea almost every day (especially when it is in pots).

The Solution…

In order to revive hydrangeas that have flowers and brown leaves, it is essential for them to replicate the environment of native hydrangeas habitat by planting hydrangeas where the soil that retains moisture, and making sure to water the hydrangeas as frequently as is necessary in order to ensure that the soil remains moist, and protecting the hydrangea from winds that drains moisture.

  • The ideal hydrangeas are planted or transplanted into soil that is amended with organic matter (compost or leaf mold, or manure that has been well rotted) to an 18-inch depth that is sufficient to allow for the root system after the hydrangea has reached maturity. This improves the hydrangeas resistance to drought, and consequently reduces the chance of flowers and leaves becoming brown.
  • If its not feasible to plant your hydrangea again, then it is essential to give your soil a thorough watering preferring to use a hose to make sure the soil around your hydrangeas plant is moist and evenly distributed to a good depth, since hydrangea roots are incredibly long.
  • Give the hydrangea an extremely thorough soak because it encourages the roots to expand deeper into the soil, allowing them to get access to water, which improves its resistance to drought. If you water too little, it will result in the roots of the hydrangea growing close to the surface, which makes the plant vulnerable to heat and increases the chance of the flowers and leaves becoming brown.
  • Spread a 2 inch layer of mulch (compost leaf mold, compost or manure that has been well rotted) on the soil surface surrounding your Hydrangea. The mulch will help to preserve soil moisture and create the ideal equilibrium of water.
  • Make sure that your hydrangea is away from winds as it can sap excessive water from the leaves and makes the leaves flowers turn brown. The hydrangea grows naturally in woodlands, so planting hydrangea in a tree is efficient way to create shelter and create the ideal conditions. It is also possible to create additional shelter by planting other plants to protect against wind, or move the hydrangea into an area that is more protected in the garden.

You can cut off any brown leaves or flowers using pruners at any time during the year, or wait for the leaves to naturally fall.

different shades of hydrangea flower close up

It is nevertheless important to emphasize that a gentle pruning is the best, and to avoid any pruning that is too vigorous as it could remove the growth of the flower. presented.

I would also like to emphasize the importance of watering regularly and the mulching of the lawn.

Hydrangea naturally produce a layer made of leaves that fall on wood floor each year, which helps to conserve water, so adding the layer of compost or leaf mold will help replicate the soils that retain moisture that hydrangeas are adapting.

When the hydrangea has grown in the right conditions, the leaves will remain green, even though the flowers typically do not regenerate and you might have to wait until they flower next year.

(Read my article on ways to revitalize a dying Hydrangea).

Potted Hydrangea Leaves and Flowers Turning Brown

The reasons for the leaves of potted hydrangeas becoming brown is largely similar to the reason why every bloom of hydrangea goes brown.

There are however a few specific characteristics that are specifically related to the cultivation of hydrangeas in pots , which can increase the chance of browning flowers and leaves.

The leaves of hydrangeas in pots tend to turn brown because they are planted inside pots which are too small and are drying out too fast. Hydrangea have deep root systems and have a huge need for moisture within the soil. If the soil is dry, then the leaves will wilt or curl and then become brown in the indication of stress.

If the pot isnt big enough then it is not able to hold enough for potting soil , which holds water.

When I notice an hydrangea that has brown leaves in a pot I always look at the roots since they tend to be in pots and are less able to access moisture.

It is important to note that pots require watering much more frequently than hydrangeas that are planted in the garden since pots dry very quickly during hot weather and lead to a dying the hydrangea.

The Solution…

  • Plant the hydrangea in the pot that is at minimum 12 inches in diameter with the same proportional depth. A pot this large will ensure that the hydrangeas have enough soil for the roots to get the nutrients and moisture they need. As the hydrangea grows it is important to check to determine whether the roots are pot connected because the root system could be quite large, and in this case the hydrangeas are planted in a larger pot.
  • Include some leaf mold in the mix of potting. Leaf mold has a remarkable capacity to hold in water (even more than compost) which is why it can to ensure the perfect level of moisture in the potted Hydrangea.
  • Give your hydrangea a thorough soak every now and then to ensure that the soil remains always damp. The hydrangea should be watered thoroughly to ensure that any excess water drips through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, ensuring that your soil remains evenly wet and the water is reaching the roots exactly where it is needed.
  • In the summer months, season, it is possible for potted hydrangeas to be watered each day to avoid the leaves becoming brown. Hydrangeas are in high demand for water due to their huge, abundant leaves. In warmer climates, watering hydrangeas just once or twice a week during the spring and summer is typically the ideal amount to ensure ideal soil moisture.

With a bigger pot and more frequent irrigation, the hydrangea will have the necessary resources requires to ensure that its leaves remain healthy and green, rather than turning brown.

Make sure your pot sits placed in an area that is protected, away of the wind, and is in the dappled light of morning sun, followed with afternoon sun.

Cut back any brown flowers or leaves at any time or let them go to the hydrangeas to fall naturally.

Hydrangea Leaves Turning Brown on the Edges (Fertilizer Burn)

If your hydrangeas leaves are brown around the edges, this usually is due to fertilizer burn caused by fertilizer used frequently or in a high a concentration. Hydrangeas require fertilizers that slow release because the high nitrogen content causes the edges of the leaves to brown as an indication of stress.

Hydrangeas are a heavy feeder which thrive in soil that is fertile and benefits from the application of fertilizers in the spring to encourage healthy growth and show more blooms.

But hydrangeas are extremely sensitive to excessive use of fertilizers, causing the edges of their leaves to become brown and crisp and could decrease the appearance of blooms.

It is usually because lawn fertilizer is diluted during heavy rain, which is then absorbed into garden boards in which your hydrangeas are planted.

There is no better option in the case of fertilizer because a little too much fertilizer may encourage growth of the foliage in the absence of flowers. Applying excessively or frequently causes leaves to have brown edges that result in the hydrangeas to drop.

The Solution…

The most important thing is to find the correct fertilizer for hydrangeas.

Personally, I would recommend Miracle-gro all-purpose granular fertilizer that has all the nutrients that the Hydrangea needs to grow and bloom at the correct concentration to prevent the edges of the leaves becoming brown.

The granulated formula releases nutrients slowly, reducing the chance of burning from fertilizers.

(Read my article on why isnt my Hydrangea blooming?)

Too Much Sun Scorches Hydrangea Leaves and Flowers Brown

The leaves and flowers of hydrangea are scorched and brown if they are exposed to too much sunlight. Hydrangeas can be found under a canopy of trees with dappled light all day. They do not like the suns rays, that not only burns the leaves but also cause drought stress.

The Hydrangea are woodland plant that flourishes in the shade of trees, which shield them from sun, wind and frost damage during Winter.

While hydrangeas are able to grow even in the shade, they usually produce green foliage, but with less flowers.

The key to growing the hydrangeas (ensuring an attractive display of flowers , and avoiding burning the leaves to brown) is to determine the ideal proportion of sun to your garden.

The most common hydrangeas thrive they are in a sunny area with morning sunlight, followed by afternoon shade or diffuse light all day.

The balance between sunlight and shade means that hydrangeas have enough energy to produce flowers, but is also protected from heat and intense sunlight to stop the leaves and flowers from turning brown and dying.

The Solution…

To achieve the ideal balance between shade and sun and to avoid the leaves becoming brown, plant your hydrangea in the shade of a tree in order to recreate its natural environment of light dappled or try to shade it by using larger plants like bamboo.

You can also find an area that is shaded in the garden. The aim should be to make sure that the hydrangeas are shaded in midday and in the afternoon, when the sun is the most intense as well as temperatures at the most extreme.

This will not only stop the leaves from turning brown, but it will it will also ease drought stress during the most scorching time of the day.

Cut back any leaves or flowers that are brown or allow the hydrangeas to let them go naturally.

Cold Weather (Hydrangea Buds and New Growth Turning Brown)

The newly emerging leaves and flowers of hydrangeas change brown when exposed to late Spring frost or cold wind. The buds that are just emerging and leaves are extremely tender and prone to being damaged by an abrupt cold snap, which causes the buds to become brown and then fade away.

The flowers naturally flourish in protected areas beneath trees that block against harsh cold winds and provides a stable microclimate where the fresh flowers are able to emerge without a substantial risk of frost.

If the flowers and leaves from hydrangeas are damaged by frost, the leaves become brown and the buds may change into a mushy texture.

It is typically the growth with the most outer edges which is the most affected because it is the most exposed to the elements.

The damaged buds arent capable of flowering and the new buds are likely to not be able to recover.

The Solution…

Frost damages to the flowers as well as leaves can be more common in areas where the hydrangea is exposed, so you should plant or move your hydrangea plant to an area that is more shaded in the garden, near your home or in close proximity to other hedges and plants.

The hedgerows are particularly effective for absorbing wind since they create a wall of protection to your hydrangea , and also aid in reducing the effects of frost.

But once the flower buds and younger leaves are brown, theres nothing that you could do in order to bring them back. So cut back any growth that was damaged by frost and trim it back to encourage healthy growth.

The flowers of Hydrangeas are usually developing buds that are further down the branches that are naturally more secure than the buds that are in the uppermost portion of the plant. They typically survive frost.

The hydrangea will still bloom, even though it might be a bit later and have less flowers appearing, but with a bit of patience, there could still be plenty of flowers to display during the summer.

(Read my article on ways to bring back the dying Hydrangea).

Flowers and Leaves Turning Brown From Overhead Watering

The leaves and flowers of hydrangea may turn brown due to excessive watering from overhead, which could cause damage to delicate flowers and create conditions for the growth of leaf spot fungus, which manifests as tiny marks of brown on leaves of hydrangea and may cause the leaves to fall off.

When watering hydrangeas, make sure to place the water near the base of the plant, not on the flowers and foliage. They are tough enough to take a little rainwater on their leaves. rain, but over-watering the leaves during the summer is what usually creates conditions for the fungus leaf spot to grow.

leaf spot can be described as a fungal infection that doesnt cause death to the hydrangea, but the strain of the disease may slow its growth rate and decrease the amount of flowers that are displayed.

The leaves will eventually be removed and it is essential to get them cleared and then burn or eliminate the leaves to stop spreading of the fungal.

The practice of watering the base of the hydrangeas is a great method to reduce the effects caused by leaf spot fungus. It also stops it from spreading to other areas in the plant.

The most effective way to resolve the issue, as it is a common occurrence each year, if not treated is to apply the spray of fungicide and leaves with multiple applications, usually for 14 days between each however, you must always adhere to the manufacturers instructions.

(Read my article on what is the reason my hydrangeas turning green?)

Key Takeaways:

  • The leaves and flowers of Hydrangea become brown because of the effects of drought, wind and excessive sunlight. Hydrangea prefer to be grown in areas that are protected from the sun, with sun dappled, humid soils, and are protected from the wind. There is not enough water around the roots causes the flowers and leaves of hydrangea to turn brown and wilt.
  • The flowers and leaves of potted hydrangeas become brown when placed in smaller pots because smaller pots get dry too fast for the roots of the hydrangeas to absorb water. The roots of hydrangeas are extensive system that require constant watering to avoid the flowers and leaves turning brown.
  • Inadequate fertilizer application or applying it too frequently causes the edges of the hydrangeas leaves to become brown and crisp. The roots of hydrangeas are extremely sensitive to excessive fertilizer, therefore it is essential to apply an organic fertilizer that releases slowly at the beginning of spring to avoid the edges of the leaves becoming brown.
  • A late frost in the Spring could result in the flower buds and growing foliage growth of hydrangeas to become brown and soft. The newly sprouted growth is brittle and more susceptible to damage from frost. The mushy, brown hydrangea buds dont develop into flowers and must be trim.
  • The fungus that causes leaf spot develops dark brown marks on hydrangeas leaves and is typically caused by overwatering its leaves. A lot of moisture on the leaves creates conditions that allow this fungal pathogen to flourish and cause dark brown marks on the leaves of hydrangeas, along with less flowers.


Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)