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What's wrong with my climbing hydrangea?

Hi everyone

I planted a reasonably established 1m tall climbing hydrangea Petiolaris in May this year and it thrived for a few weeks, putting on lots of new growth. It's been looking sad in the last 4-5 weeks though and about 30-40% of the leaves have what look liked scorched edges, and a handful of leaves have further brown discoloration. There is some new growth during the more recent weeks but not very much.

It's planted in a container, a large trellis planter, it is in a south facing position, it gets full sun for about 2 hours a day, in the early afternoon. The garden itself is a small south facing courtyard, it has a warm, dry microclimate (we are in London), but it is also quite overlooked by other buildings and has high walls so most areas get both strong light and good shade depending on the time of day. The plant is in slightly gritted general purpose compost and currently is getting a good watering once a day unless it has rained.

A couple of photos are below - the first is the 'scorch' effect that is affecting a noticeable portion of the leaves and the second is the brown discoloration which is affecting a handful. The water on the leaves in the photo is from a recent rainfall - when I water I aim at the base of the plant with the hose.

Could anyone shed some light on what the issue may be?

Any help much appreciated!


  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    Not sure what's wrong but this is one climber that can't be grown in a container for long. Full grown they can reach over 50ft. 
    Usual cause is not enough water and lack of nutrients as general purpose compost is not meant for permanent planting as it runs out of nutrients after about 6 weeks, John Innes 3 is usually recommended, but I would get it in the ground in  autumn if you can.

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    Judging by your comments of sun and water on the leaves, avoid watering into leaves when the sun is out as that will scorch the leaves. Agree with K67, these climbing shrubs will not thrive in a container. They need masses of watering in the summer and the roots may get too hot. Best grown in the ground where the roots stay cool. I suspect your shrub is suffering due to the heat and lack of water. Watering once a day may still not be enough to keep your plant happy. It's probably barely surviving right now.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,921
    edited July 2019
    It'll never thrive in a container, as the others have said. They need a lot of room for the root system, and to get decent growth above ground.
    They're really best suited to a north facing aspect, and if they're in sun, they definitely need to be in the ground. If you can't manage that, it would be better to give it to someone who can give it the conditions it needs to thrive. There are plenty of other climbers which will work in the conditions you have.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Great - thanks all. Sounds like it needs to go elsewhere!
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