WSU Extension


Hydrangea : Marginal leaf necrosis
(revision date: 4/23/2014)

Browning and dieback of leaf margins and tips can be a symptom of several problems that restrict water flow to the leaves. Drought, excess heat, excess sunlight, overfertilization, and herbicide injury are all possible causes. Damage to the root system or stems may also show as wilting and leaf necrosis due to the inhibition of water uptake and movement. Salt damage may occur on plants growing near sidewalks due to winter use of de-icing products.
Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Plant in an appropriate location--hydrangeas prefer light shade and moist, well-drained soils.
  • Provide proper watering and nutrition. Excess fertilizer, particularly during hot weather, can result in leaf damage.
  • Improve drainage in soggy soils, or plant on a berm to improve drainage. Overwatering or soggy soils can damage the roots' ability to take up water.
  • Examine stems for damage from string trimmers, cankers, or other injury.
  • Use a layer of organic mulch over the root zone to retain soil moisture and to moderate soil temperatures.
  • Do not apply herbicides near susceptible ornamentals or when drift is likely to occur. Use special care when applying broadleaf weed killers to turf near ornamental plantings.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

None recommended

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Caption: drought damage to H. macrophylla
Photo by: R. Maleike