Why Are My Hydrangea Leaves Turning Black? 8 Causes And Fix

Form Past few days you have noticed that hydrangea leaves turning black from the edges spreads inward into middle or even full leaves become black and you don’t know what is causing it to change, let me tell you the solution before that these plants are basically shrubs with large flower heads, easily grown and comes with a lot of variety which has different colors. To Fix the black leaf problem it could be anyone the reason told below.

Hydrangea Leaves Turning Black due to various reasons including insufficient water, overwatering, fungal diseases like powdery mildew, late frost damage, improper fertilization, and root rot. To fix the issue, Make sure the hydrangea gets enough water, modify watering techniques to prevent overwatering, treat fungus-related ailments with the proper fungicides, shield the plant from late frost by covering it or moving it, maintain a regular fertilization schedule using a balanced hydrangea fertilizer, and enhance drainage to prevent root rot.

Why Are My Hydrangea Leaves Turning Black? Symptoms How to Fix Prevention
Insufficient Water Black spots on leaves due to fungal diseases Water hydrangeas when the soil is slightly dry Properly water hydrangeas; avoid wetting leaves
Fungal Diseases Black spots and discoloration on leaves Maintain good air circulation; use fungicide Remove debris; ensure good airflow around plants
Insufficient Phosphorus Blackening starting from leaf tips Check soil pH and add phosphorus fertilizer Use pH-neutral soil; fertilize properly
Late Frost Damage Blackened and wilted leaves Remove damaged leaves; cover plants during frost Monitor weather; protect plants during frost
Excessive Sunlight Leaf burn and blackening Provide shade during hottest parts of the day Position plants in partial shade; avoid overexposure
Improper Fertilization Leaf burn and blackening Follow recommended guidelines for fertilization Avoid over-fertilization; use appropriate fertilizers
Pest Infestation (e.g., aphids) Black spots and deformities Use horticultural oil; apply fungicide Monitor for pests; take preventive measures

I will explain the solution with the most common reason to the last resort if the problem didn’t solve from the first solution.

1. Frost Damage

Climate change has become a pressing global issue, impacting various aspects of our lives, including the natural world. One area greatly affected by these changes is plant life, with temperature fluctuations posing challenges to the growth and well-being of many species. Hydrangea plants, known for their vibrant blooms, are not exempt from these challenges. Excessive moisture and temperature variations can have adverse effects on hydrangeas, causing their leaves to turn black along the edges.

During winter or early spring, when temperatures drop, water droplets can accumulate on the foliage of hydrangea plants. These droplets, combined with the cold temperatures, create an unfavorable environment for the plants. The excess moisture on the leaves can lead to fungal growth and diseases, ultimately resulting in the blackening of the leaf edges. Climate change has exacerbated this issue, with some regions experiencing extreme heat while others face freezing cold climates.

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Thankfully, there are measures that can be taken to counteract frost damage and protect hydrangeas from these adverse conditions. One effective method is to use horticultural fleece as a protective cover. Horticultural fleece is a lightweight blanket-like material specifically designed to shield plants from cold temperatures and frost damage. Its ease of use makes it a practical solution for gardeners and plant enthusiasts.

When using horticultural fleece to protect hydrangeas from frost, it is important to cover the entire plant, including the foliage. This helps maintain a stable temperature around the plant. By creating a barrier, the fleece prevents excessive moisture from accumulating on the leaves, reducing the risk of blackening. Additionally, the fleece acts as an insulator, trapping heat and preventing cold air from reaching the plant.

Moreover, horticultural fleece allows the plants to breathe and receive sufficient light, ensuring their overall health and growth are not compromised. The material is permeable, enabling air and water to pass through while still providing adequate protection against frost. This balance between protection and ventilation is crucial for the long-term well-being of hydrangeas.

Another advantage of using horticultural fleece is its versatility. It can be easily removed and reused when weather conditions improve, making it a cost-effective and sustainable solution. Additionally, its lightweight nature makes it convenient to handle and store when not in use.

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Why Are My Hydrangea Leaves Turning Black? - 8 Causes And Fix
Why Are My Hydrangea Leaves Turning Black?


2. Too Much Sunlight

Hydrangeas are known for their ability to thrive in shade or partial shade, as they do not typically require direct sunlight for optimal growth. However, if you choose to transplant or move a hydrangea to an area with excessive sunlight, it can have detrimental effects on the plant, potentially leading to the blackening of its leaves.

Excessive sunlight exposure can result in leaf burn, causing the edges of the leaves to turn black. This burning effect typically starts at the edges and gradually spreads across the entire leaf surface, giving the leaves a green-blackish coloration. If you observe these symptoms after relocating your hydrangea to a sunny location, it is important to take prompt action to address the issue.

To mitigate the damage caused by excessive sunlight, the first step is to relocate the hydrangea to a more shaded area. By providing the plant with relief from direct sunlight, you give it a chance to recover and prevent further blackening of the leaves. Moving the hydrangea to a shady spot for a few days allows it to adjust and adapt to its new surroundings. Often, this change in location proves effective in reversing the leaf blackening caused by excessive sunlight.

If relocating the hydrangea to a shaded area does not yield the desired results, there are alternative measures to consider. One option is to use protective covers or shade cloth to filter the intensity of sunlight reaching the plant. These materials can be placed strategically above the hydrangea to create a partially shaded environment, reducing the risk of leaf burn. Additionally, incorporating structures such as pergolas or arbors can provide natural shade, benefiting hydrangeas planted in overly sunny locations.

In addition to shading, ensuring proper hydration is crucial for the health of the hydrangea plant. Increased sunlight exposure can accelerate moisture evaporation from the soil, potentially leading to water stress. Regular watering, especially during dry and hot periods, helps the plant maintain adequate moisture levels and alleviates the stress caused by excessive sunlight.

Furthermore, it is important to consider the specific variety of hydrangea you have planted. Different hydrangea species and cultivars have varying tolerances to sunlight and shade. Some varieties, such as Hydrangea macrophylla, thrive in partially shaded conditions, while others, like Hydrangea paniculata, can tolerate more sunlight. Understanding the light preferences of your specific hydrangea variety will guide you in selecting an appropriate location for optimal growth.

hydrangea flower buds turning black
hydrangea flower buds turning black

3. Overwatering

Hydrangeas are plants that require adequate watering to thrive, but it is important to avoid excessive water as it can lead to drainage issues in the soil. Prolonged periods of wet soil can create conditions conducive to root rot, which in turn can cause black spots, black leaves, brown leaf margins, and discolored, dry leaves.

Overwatering can be detrimental to hydrangeas, so it is essential to recognize the symptoms associated with this issue. If your hydrangea plant displays black or brown leaf spots, it is important to consider whether overwatering may be the cause. However, if these symptoms are not present, further investigation is necessary.

To determine if overwatering is affecting your hydrangea plant, closely examine the symptoms. Overwatered hydrangeas often exhibit wilted leaves that may have black or brown areas. The affected spots might feel mushy to the touch, indicating the presence of rot. Additionally, the leaves may show signs of yellowing or browning along the edges or throughout the entire leaf surface. If these symptoms align with what you observe in your hydrangea, overwatering is likely the underlying issue.

To address the problem of overwatering, it is crucial to adjust your watering practices accordingly. Start by ensuring that the soil has proper drainage by incorporating organic matter such as compost or peat moss. These additions will improve soil structure and prevent water from accumulating around the roots. If you are growing hydrangeas in containers, make sure the pots have drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. In the case of in-ground plantings, consider creating raised beds to enhance drainage.

When watering your hydrangeas, strike a balance that provides enough moisture without saturating the soil. Check the moisture level by inserting your finger into the soil up to the first knuckle. If the soil feels dry at that depth, it is an indication that it is time to water. On the other hand, consistently wet or waterlogged soil signals the need to reduce watering frequency.

Proper irrigation techniques also play a role in preventing overwatering. Water the hydrangeas at the base of the plant rather than from overhead to minimize foliage wetness. Watering in the morning allows the leaves to dry off during the day, reducing the risk of fungal diseases associated with prolonged moisture.

In addition to adjusting watering practices, addressing any existing root rot issues is crucial. Carefully remove affected plant parts, including blackened or mushy roots, using clean and sanitized tools. Properly dispose of the removed plant material to prevent the spread of disease. In severe cases of root rot, it may be necessary to replace the plant entirely.


4. Too much Fertilizing

Overwatering is not the only issue that can affect hydrangea plants; over-fertilization can also lead to problems. When the concentration or ratio of salts in the potting mix becomes unbalanced due to excessive fertilizer application, it can have negative consequences. Too much fertilizer can cause leaf burn, which can manifest as blackening of the leaf edges and gradually spread to darken the entire leaf surface.

To determine if over-fertilization is the cause of the blackening leaves, it is important to test the soil and address any underlying issues. Start by assessing the pH level of the soil, as it plays a crucial role in nutrient availability and uptake. Hydrangeas generally thrive in slightly acidic soil, with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. If the soil pH is too high (alkaline), it can hinder the plant’s ability to absorb certain nutrients effectively, leading to deficiencies and leaf problems.

To correct the pH imbalance, soil amendments can be used. If the soil is too alkaline, adding organic matter like peat moss or elemental sulfur can help acidify it. Conversely, if the soil is naturally acidic, adjustments can be made to raise the pH by incorporating lime or dolomitic limestone.

In addition to pH levels, it is important to evaluate the nutrient levels in the soil. Over-fertilization can cause imbalances and deficiencies, which can contribute to leaf issues. Conducting a soil test can provide valuable information about the nutrient composition and any deficiencies present in the soil. Key nutrients to consider include nitrogen and magnesium, as their deficiencies can lead to leaf discoloration.

If a soil test reveals nutrient deficiencies, targeted fertilization can address the issue. Using a balanced fertilizer specifically formulated for hydrangeas or one that targets the identified nutrient deficiencies is recommended. Following the recommended application rates and frequency will provide the necessary nutrients without overdoing it.

It is crucial to note that soil tests should be conducted if previous solutions, such as adjusting watering practices and addressing potential root rot issues, have not resolved the problem. In some cases, issues with fungal diseases or insect pests can also cause blackening of hydrangea leaves.

Fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew and leaf spot diseases, can affect hydrangeas and cause leaf blackening. Insect pests like aphids and spider mites can also damage the foliage, leading to leaf discoloration. If fungal or insect problems are suspected as the cause of the blackened leaves, appropriate treatments, such as fungicides or insecticides, may be necessary to address the issue.


5. Insect Problem

Aphids are small insects commonly found on hydrangea plants that can cause various problems if not properly controlled. These pests feed on the sap juice of the leaves, excreting a sugary substance known as honeydew. This honeydew attracts a fungus called sooty mold, which grows and thrives on the sticky residue, resulting in the blackening of different parts of the leaves. While aphids themselves only feed on the sap, the presence of sooty mold creates a more visible issue as it covers the leaves, turning them black.

To address the problem of aphids and sooty mold, one effective solution is the use of insecticidal soap specifically formulated to eliminate these insect problems. Insecticidal soap is a safe and efficient method for controlling aphids and other soft-bodied insects. Its mechanism of action involves suffocating and dehydrating the insects upon contact, effectively eliminating them from the plant.

When applying insecticidal soap to combat aphids, it is essential to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Typically, the soap solution should be sprayed directly onto the affected areas of the plant, ensuring thorough coverage of the leaves. Both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves should be treated, as aphids tend to congregate on the undersides. The soap solution breaks down the protective coating of the aphids, leading to their demise.

Multiple applications may be necessary to effectively control aphid populations. It is important to use insecticidal soap judiciously and only when needed, as it can also impact beneficial insects. Avoid applying the soap solution during periods of high temperatures or direct sunlight, as this can increase the risk of leaf damage.

In addition to using insecticidal soap, there are other natural methods that can be employed to manage aphids and prevent sooty mold. One approach is the introduction of beneficial insects into the garden, such as ladybugs or lacewings, which feed on aphids. These natural predators help keep aphid populations in check and reduce the likelihood of sooty mold formation.

Maintaining good garden hygiene is also essential in preventing aphid infestations. Regularly inspect the plants for signs of aphids and promptly remove any affected leaves or plant parts. Pruning overgrown branches and maintaining appropriate spacing between plants can improve air circulation, creating an environment less favorable for aphids and sooty mold.

Furthermore, ensuring overall plant health is crucial in preventing aphid and sooty mold problems. Providing hydrangeas with adequate sunlight, proper watering, and appropriate fertilization will enhance their resistance to pests and diseases, including aphids and the subsequent growth of sooty mold.

why are my leaves turning brown on the edges

6. Insufficient water

Insufficient water can have detrimental effects on hydrangea plants, particularly during dry weather conditions or when proper watering practices are not followed. When a hydrangea does not receive enough water, it can exhibit various signs, including the leaves turning brown or black.

Hydrangeas have moderate water requirements and thrive in moist soil. When the plant lacks sufficient water, it can experience water stress, leading to leaf discoloration. Inadequate water availability hampers the plant’s ability to perform crucial functions such as nutrient uptake and photosynthesis, resulting in browning or blackening of the leaves.

During periods of dry weather, it is crucial to monitor the moisture levels of the soil surrounding the hydrangea plant. If the soil becomes excessively dry, it deprives the plant of the water it needs to sustain healthy growth. Similarly, insufficient watering practices, such as infrequent or shallow watering, can contribute to insufficient water supply to the plant’s root system.

To address the issue of insufficient water, it is important to establish a consistent watering routine for hydrangeas. The frequency of watering depends on various factors, including the weather conditions, soil type, and the size of the plant. As a general guideline, hydrangeas typically require deep watering once or twice a week, ensuring that the soil is adequately moist without becoming waterlogged.

When watering hydrangeas, it is advisable to apply water at the base of the plant rather than overhead. This allows the water to reach the roots directly, where it is most needed. Additionally, utilizing a soaker hose or drip irrigation system can ensure that water is delivered evenly and efficiently to the root zone, minimizing water loss through evaporation.

Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the hydrangea plant can help retain soil moisture. Mulching not only conserves moisture but also regulates soil temperature and suppresses weed growth. Use materials such as wood chips, compost, or shredded leaves to create a mulch layer of about 2 to 3 inches thick. However, be cautious not to place the mulch directly against the plant’s stem, as this can promote moisture-related issues.

Regularly monitor the moisture levels of the soil by inserting your finger into the soil or using a moisture meter. Check the moisture content a few inches below the surface. If the soil feels dry at that depth, it indicates that watering is required. Conversely, if the soil feels consistently wet or waterlogged, it suggests overwatering, which can also lead to leaf problems.

In addition to providing sufficient water, it is important to consider the specific watering needs of the particular hydrangea variety you are growing. Different hydrangea species and cultivars have varying tolerances to drought. Some varieties, such as Hydrangea macrophylla, are more sensitive to dry conditions, while others, like Hydrangea paniculata, are generally more drought-tolerant. Understanding the specific watering requirements of your hydrangea cultivar will help you tailor your watering practices accordingly.

How to Fix It

  • Regularly watering the hydrangea will ensure that it gets enough moisture. The amount of watering required will vary depending on the climate, kind of soil, and size of the plant.
  • Water thoroughly and deeply, enabling it to reach the root zone. Shallow irrigation might result in moisture at the top while the deeper roots stay dry.
  • Regularly insert your finger approximately one inch into the soil to check the moisture level. It’s time to water if it seems dry at that depth.
  • To assist a plant retain moisture, think about putting mulch around the base of the plant. Mulch functions as a barrier, slowing the soil’s evaporation of water.

hydrangea leaves turning red

7. Root rot

Symptoms: Too much water in the root zone together with a poorly draining location may result in root rot, which encourages leaf black spots. When the roots are always wet, fungus infections proliferate and cause root rot.

How to Fix It:

By planting the hydrangea in soil that drains well or by adding organic materials to the soil to strengthen its structure, you may increase drainage.

Keep the plant’s root zone from becoming too damp and avoid overwatering. Deeply but seldom water the plant, letting the top inch of soil dry out before watering it again.
To stop the spread of root rot, cut off and replace any unhealthy roots. Apply a root rot-specific fungicide and remove any infected foliage.

By avoiding overcrowding and properly spacing hydrangeas, you can ensure that there is enough air circulation around the plant. Having enough airflow helps keep the leaves and roots from being wet for extended periods of time.

You may assist in preserving healthy hydrangea leaves and fostering general plant vitality by addressing these typical problems and putting the right repairs into place.


8. Environmental stress

Hydrangea leaves may become black as a result of a variety of environmental stressors, including intense heat, freezing temperatures, exposure to strong winds, or direct sunshine.

How to fix It

  • When the sun is at its most strong, give hydrangeas the proper shade, particularly in warm areas. You may shield the leaves from sunburn and heat stress by planting them in areas with some shade or by using shade cloth.
  • When it’s severely cold outside, cover the hydrangea with a frost blanket or relocate it to a protected spot to prevent frost damage.
  • Protect the plant against high gusts, which may dry out the leaves and harm them physically. Utilizing barriers or planting windbreaks may lessen the effects of wind.
  • To make sure the plant is properly hydrated during times of environmental stress, use a regular watering routine. Do not allow the soil to get too wet or extremely dry.


Do Hydrangeas need to be protected over winter?

Hydrangeas leaves turning black may benefit from protection during the winter, especially in colder regions. Here are some steps to consider for winter protection:

  1. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, around the base of the plant to insulate the roots and protect them from extreme cold temperatures.
  2. Covering: Consider covering more vulnerable or newly planted hydrangeas with a breathable material like burlap or frost protection fabric. This can shield them from harsh winds and frost.
  3. Avoid pruning: It is generally recommended to avoid pruning hydrangeas until spring. Leaving the dried flower heads intact over winter can provide some protection to the buds beneath from the cold.

Remember to check the specific care requirements for your hydrangea variety, as some may have specific winter care instructions.

Don’t prune the flower heads until spring

It is advisable to refrain from pruning the flower heads of hydrangeas until spring. By leaving the dried flower heads intact over the winter, they can offer some protection to the buds underneath from the cold temperatures. Pruning can be done in early spring, before new growth emerges. However, it’s important to note that certain hydrangea varieties may have different pruning techniques, so it’s best to consult specific care instructions or seek guidance from a gardening expert.

Did my hydrangea survive its frost damage?

Determining if your hydrangea leaves turning black has survived frost damage can be challenging and depends on the severity of the frost and the resilience of the plant. Here are some signs to look for:

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  1. Delayed growth: Frost-damaged hydrangeas may exhibit a delay in new growth compared to previous years. The plant might take longer to sprout new leaves or produce flowers.
  2. Wilted or blackened leaves: Frost damage can cause the leaves to wilt or turn black. However, it’s important to differentiate between frost damage and other potential causes, such as diseases or pests.
  3. Check for new growth: Inspect the branches and stems of your hydrangea for signs of new growth. The presence of buds forming or small green shoots emerging indicates that your hydrangea is recovering.
  4. Be patient: Sometimes it takes time for the plant to fully recover from frost damage. Hydrangeas are generally resilient and can bounce back with proper care and favorable conditions.

If you are uncertain about the condition of your hydrangea or suspect severe damage, it is recommended to consult a local gardening expert for personalized guidance.

How do I prune my Hydrangea?

The pruning method for hydrangeas depends on the specific type or variety you have. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Bigleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla): Prune immediately after flowering. Remove spent flower heads, dead or damaged wood, and thin out crowded stems for better air circulation.
  2. Oakleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia): Minimal pruning is needed, mainly to remove dead or damaged wood. Pruning can be done after flowering or in early spring.
  3. Panicle Hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata): Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Remove about one-third of the oldest stems and shape the plant as desired.
  4. Smooth Hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens): Prune in late winter or early spring. Cut back all stems to about 6-12 inches from the ground to encourage vigorous new growth.

Always use clean, sharp pruning tools to make precise cuts and minimize damage to the plant. It’s important to note that some hydrangeas bloom on old wood (previous year’s growth), while others bloom on new wood (current year’s growth). Understanding the blooming habit of your specific hydrangea variety is crucial for proper pruning.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Proper watering is essential to prevent black spots on hydrangea leaves. Water the plants when the soil around the roots is slightly dry, about 1 inch deep. Avoid wetting the leaves while watering.
  2. Fungal diseases such as Botrytis cinerea and powdery mildew can cause black spots on hydrangea leaves. Ensure good air circulation around the plants, remove plant debris, and use a fungicide formulated for hydrangeas.
  3. Lack of phosphorus in the soil can lead to blackening of hydrangea leaves. Check the soil pH and add garden lime to neutralize excess acidity. Consider using a phosphorus fertilizer designed for hydrangeas.
  4. Late frost can cause damage to hydrangeas, resulting in blackened and wilted leaves. Remove damaged leaves and protect the plants with garden fabric during frost periods.
  5. Excessive sunlight can cause leaf burn and blackening. Provide shade during the hottest parts of the day and maintain proper hydration without overwatering.
  6. Avoid over-fertilization, particularly with nitrogen-rich fertilizers, as it can cause leaf burn. Follow recommended fertilization guidelines and choose slow-release fertilizers specifically formulated for hydrangeas.
  7. Pest infestation, such as aphids, can cause black spots and deformities on hydrangea leaves. Control aphids using horticultural oil and treat sooty mold caused by their secretions with a fungicide.

By addressing these factors and providing appropriate care, you can restore the health and beauty of your hydrangeas, enjoying vibrant and healthy foliage.



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Wrap Up

I hope you get the answer on “Hydrangea Leaves Turning Black”  and if you like to read more articles check below. 

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Amelia Clark

I'm Amelia Clark, a seasoned florist and gardening specialist with more than 15 years of practical expertise. Following the completion of my formal education, I dedicated myself to a flourishing career in floristry, acquiring extensive understanding of diverse flower species and their ideal cultivation requirements. Additionally, I possess exceptional skills as a writer and public speaker, having successfully published numerous works and delivered engaging presentations at various local garden clubs and conferences. Social Profile: LinkedIn  YouTube  Pinterest Facebook