Hydrangea Leaves

What to Do When Hydrangea Leaves are Turning Brown- Causes and Solutions

Hydrangeas are versatile medium-sized shrubs valued for their late summer flowers and their ability to thrive in a variety of situations. As such, they easily find their way into any indoor garden. These woody shrubs form large, oval leaves and flowers that are green in bud, but open to become white, pink, red, purple, and blue in a rounded cluster. The blues need to be kept in an acid soil mix or they change color to pink or red.

If grown indoors, hydrangeas prefer cool, light, and airy conditions and are well-suited to growing in a cool conservatory. However, this plant is not free of pests. The leaves of your hydrangea are likely to turn brown at some point and here are the most common causes for browning leaves and wilting, along with the recommended solutions.

Hydrangea leaves - brown

Why do Hydrangea’s Leaves Wilt and Turn Brown

Here are the most common causes for browning leaves and wilting, along with the recommended solutions.

Fungal diseases

Problem: Fungus can appear due to poor airflow, inadequate watering, and pruning. Consequently, your plant will develop brown spots on the leaves, usually at the end of the summer or fall. These, however, don’t hinder the blooming ability, but still, look unattractive.

Remedy: To prevent fungal infestations and brown leaf spots, never water from above, provide pleasant air and prune with sterilized shears after flowering to allow more space between the branches and hence better airflow around the leaves.


Problem: Aphids and scale insects will pay hydrangeas unwelcome visits, leaving them in a state of shriveling and browning.

Remedy: Dissolve soap in water and flush the plant with it. If that doesn’t work, resort to organic insecticides. Transplanting is another option. Chemical products should be your last one, as these can also cause browning and wilting.

Brown Hydrangea's Leaves

Too much fertilizer

Problem: While using fertilizer is conducive to fuller plant growth, it must be handled with extreme caution. Overfertilizing can result in the build-up of salt and increase the acidity of the soil. And so you are left with brown and burnt leaves.

Remedy: Avoid too much fertilizer by using half the recommended strength. Use slow-release fertilizers and water after fertilizing. If you still happen to encounter this problem, get rid of accumulated salt by thoroughly rinsing the plant with plenty of water or transplant it.

Too much heat

Problem: Hydrangeas will use water more quickly if exposed to excessive heat. Consequently, the hydrangea leaves will start curling up, wilting, becoming crisp and dry to the touch, eventually turning brown if not given enough water.

Remedy: Hydrangeas like cooler locations and the temperature of around 15 degrees C. Ensure good airflow, ventilation and try to reduce heat in summer, which to hydrangeas seem as the endless summer.

Too much sun

Problem: If exposed to full sun for extended periods of time, hydrangeas’ leaves turn brown and look burnt, especially if accompanied by insufficient moisture.

Remedy: Don’t expose hydrangeas to fierce sun. Rather, let them enjoy semi-shade or diffused light.

Inadequate watering

Problem: Hydrangeas undergo a shock if given too little or too much water. Either of the two extremes is likely to cause the browning of the leaf edges and tips.

Remedy: Adopt healthy watering habits depending on the weather. Water freely from spring to fall about three times a week, but sparingly in the cold winter weather.

Related: Best Watering Cans: Reviews and Guide

Low humidity

Problem: If the humidity is low and the air too dry and hot, your plant’s leaves will wither and dry.

Remedy: Make sure the soil is thoroughly moist and group your hydrangea shrub with other plants after watering for better moisture retention.

Nutrient deficiency

Problem: The lack of chlorophyll or iron can result in the browning of the hydrangea leaves.

Remedy: Use rich, fertile, organic soil and the right amount of standard fertilizer to improve the quality of the soil.

Transplanting shock

Problem: When you bring your newly purchased hydrangea home and plant it into a pot or your outdoor garden, it will need some time to adapt. It is used to being constantly moist, so when transplanted, this will not be the case and it might show signs of wilting and turning brown.

Remedy: Use well-draining soil with enough drainage holes. Water thoroughly before transplanting it while loosening the root ball, and continue to water regularly.

Poor drainage

Problem: Another cause of the browning of the leaves is inadequate drainage and waterlogging. As a result, the plant sits in constantly wet soil, which leads to brown leaves, root rot, and your plant may even die when the roots are damaged.

Remedy: Choose a pot that’s large enough with drainage holes or drill a few yourself. Use quick-draining, organic soil.

Cold air

Problem: Cold currents of air in the winter will cause the plant to develop brown leaves and wilt in the end.

Remedy: Ensure constant temperatures without any disturbance in the winter.

Other issues

There are some other infrequent problems with hydrangea leaves. They might turn yellow due to insufficient light, dry air, wet soil, or overfertilizing, maturing to become brown in color.

Powdery mildew is another issue, along with bacterial leaf spots and drooping leaves as a result of the lack of air and water.

Hydrangea, brown spots

Hydrangea Specs & Care

Hydrangea is the genus of deciduous and evergreen shrubs and climbers, rarely trees, grown for their domed or flattened flower heads. Each one consists of small, inconspicuous blooms mingled with much larger, sterile ones bearing showy, petal-like sepals.

Hydrangeas are ideal for a larger pot because they flower each year. Once they outgrow their current pot, transplant them outdoors.


Genus: Hydrangeaceae

Origin: Japan

Common names: Hydrangea, Hortensia

Type: medium shrub

Height: 2 ft. (60 cm) or more

Leaves: large, oval, medium to deep green

Flowers: green in bud, opening blue, red, pink, or white

Flowering period: June-July

Light: Bright indirect sunlight or semi-shade with good air circulation, even some full late afternoon sun or early morning sun. It needs more shade in dry areas.

Temperature: Cool, ideally below 15 degrees C

Humidity: Regular

Soil: Fertile, moist but well-drained organic soil. Keep blue hydrangeas in an acid soil mix or else they turn pink or red.

Moisture: Keep the soil thoroughly moist from spring to fall. Water it around three times a week. Be careful with the amount of water you apply in the winter.

Fertilizer: Use standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks.

Propagation: Take 10 cm softwood cuttings in spring or summer.

Related: 35+ Indoor Gardening Propagation Hacks

Repotting: No need to repot, but transplant outdoors after flowering.

Toxicity: All parts of hydrangeas may cause upset stomach if ingested and skin allergies.

Where to plant: Outside or in large containers. Also ideal for a cool conservatory.

Special notes: Hydrangeas should be planted outside after flowering since they are unlikely to bloom indoors the second time. Mulch around the plant for better moisture retention.

Hydrangea flowers

Hydrangea species

Some common hydrangea plants include:

  • Hydrangea macrophylla
  • Hydrangea paniculata
  • Hydrangea serrata
  • Hydrangea involucrata
  • Hydrangea heteromalla
  • Hydrangea heteromalla
  • Hydrangea quercifolia “Brido” and “Flemygea”
  • Hydrangea arborescens “Grandiflora”
  • Hydrangea villosa
  • Hydrangea seemanii

The most common one is H.macrophylla which makes an excellent border plant. Some cultivars include: “Lanarth White”, “Altona”, a soft blue “Europa”, “Libelle” and “Mariesii Lilacina”.

The second most popular is H. paniculata whose cultivars bear larger though fewer cone-shaped flower heads if pruned hard in spring. Some of them are: “Dvppinky” or pinky-winky, “Big Ben”, “Phantom”, soft red “Dharuma”, rose gold “Interhydia”, “Limelight” and “Silver Dollar”.

Hydrangea flowers


Should I cut off brown hydrangea leaves?

Remove all the dead and nearly dying leaves from your hydrangea, since they can’t go back to being green again. It will make a more pleasant sight in that way. However, if the infestation is light, give the leaves some time to try and recover

Why are my hydrangea’s leaves curling and turning brown?

As we have seen, this bush could exhibit curling, brown leaves, and brown spots due to various reasons – fungal diseases, poor air circulation, extreme heat and sun, low humidity, inadequate watering, too much fertilizer, poor drainage, pest infection, and roots damaged by overwatering. A lot of possible causes, I know. But maintaining hygienic conditions and healthy plant care habits will minimize the risk of curly, crisp, and brown leaf blades.

Why do my hydrangeas leaves look burnt?

The most common reason for the appearance of burnt leaves is very hot weather. Try to minimize summer temperature and provide good air circulation, but avoid full sun by all means. Water thoroughly every few days. Another reason for this occurrence is water evaporation from the leaves due to underwatering or low humidity


Encountering leaf discoloration at some point in the life of your hydrangea is inevitable. It should communicate to you that something is wrong in the environment in which your shrub is growing and it’s a plea for action.

All in all, prevention is the best remedy. Adequate sunlight, air circulation, good quality soil, sound water, and fertilizer application will safeguard against these undesirable occurrences such as wilting and browning leaves, along with fungal and disease preventive measures.