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Hydrangea runaway Bride

Hi there, I have 3 of these plants in pots on my patio. Two of them look very sick. The leaves are almost white and are very small. Is this a virus? Or perhaps a nutrient deficiency? Or too much sun? The third is only slightly better. I bought them last year and they have been in these pots for a exactly a year. Many thanks


  • ElferElfer Posts: 329
    edited June 2021
    Welcome to the forum. Let's just cover the bases in order to track their progress since you got them.

    Did you pot them up after you bought them?
    If so what media did you pot them in?
    Have you given them a fertiliser of any sort or just watered them, if so when?
    How often and how much have you been watering them?

  • HazybHazyb Posts: 336
    Earlier in the season my runaway bride was pale green.

    I bought some miracle grow azalea, camellia and rhododendron  liquid feed , applied weekly,  and it has made a difference to the colour.  

    It has always been in ericaceous compost. 



  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    They need to be in a shadier spot, and a soil based medium if in a pot - not compost on it's own. Anything potted long term need a lot more care than in the ground - especially shrubs.  :)
    You also need to refresh the soil content every year as nutrients are depleted by the plant in a pot. Regular watering and some feeding too, but especially watering. If shrubs get dehydrated in pots, it can be hard to rehydrate them properly again, and unless there's enough moisture content in the soil, additional water tends to run through rather than being absorbed. Many people mistakenly think plants are wet enough when they see water run through, but it can actually be the opposite.  :)
    I can't tell what the pots are made of, but if they're terracotta, or similar, the pot itself absorbs water, so just be aware of that too. Glazed pots are better :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • luis_prluis_pr Hurst, Texas Zone 8aPosts: 122
    edited June 2021
    I suspect a nutrient deficiency like, for example, iron/etc. chlorosis since the affected leaves are found throughout all areas in the pictures and the leaf veins remain dark. This is usually triggered by the potting soil not being acidic; when the soil turns alkaline, I regularly (see product instructions) give them some garden sulfur, aluminum sulfate, greensand or iron-chelated liquid compounds. Symptoms of iron chlorosis progress like so: the dark green leaves turn a lighter green color but the leaf veins remain dark green. If the problem continues, the leaves turn yellow but the leaf veins remain dark green. Then the leaves turn white but the leaf veins remain dark green. Eventually, the leaves die and fall down. Since the leaves are yellow to white in color in Pictures 1 and 2, I would recommend using iron-chelated liquid compounds because, while the problem takes weeks to be corrected, it will take less time with the liquids than if you used the slightly slower granular products. Typically though, the liquid compounds need to be re-applied more often than the granular products do. Plant nurseries sell soil pH kits that you can use to check if the soil is acidic, neutral or alkaline. Use potting soil for ericaceous plants like azaleas, camellias or hydrangeas.

    For a problem with too much sun, the leaves would completely turn yellow, including the leaf veins, and those leaves that remain shaded deep inside or below other leaves would remain dark green. In such a case, avoid direct sunlight after 10-11am so give them afternoon and evening shade.

  • Thanks so much everyone. I potted them up straight after buying them. They are in garden soil with some compost mixed in not ericaceous compost. I added some miracle grow pellets into the mix while potting. I water them every day in this heat, but usually as and when they need it. I have not top dressed them yet this season. I have fed them with seaweed extract. They are positioned in full sun and the one that is doing slightly better gets more shade. I am embarrassed to say that I did not realise that they required ericaceous compost. I have fed them with seaweed extract, both in their water and as a foliar spray. So it sounds like a change of medium is required along with a slightly shadier position, and the correct feed (as in Azalea food)? I am so grateful for your help. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    Compost alone is no use for shrubs in pots - that's where the main problem is. Attending to the moisture and shade is very important. Pots dry out more readily, even in wetter areas because the foliage prevents a lot getting through to the roots. In a shadier spot it will stay moist for longer and be less stressed  :)
    I would disagree about ericaceous soil. Neutral soil is perfectly fine for any white hydrangea. Ericaceous soil is only relevant when you want blue hydrangeas to stay blue. The reverse for pink ones. White hydrangeas stay white regardless of the pH.
    I also wouldn't keep feeding any plant that's stressed for any reason. It's like giving someone who's had a massive operation a 3 course roast dinner. Let it recover first by getting it into the right growing medium. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Mine definitely likes shade.  This picture is now and shows a little morning sun on it but it will be in shade for most of the day. Fairly large pot under some trees.
  • luis_prluis_pr Hurst, Texas Zone 8aPosts: 122
    edited June 2021
    Very pretty, Daliahdelights. Did it not win accolades a while back? Just wondering, do the sepals have a very faint pink tint color on them or is the computer screen playing tricks on my eyes?
  • ElferElfer Posts: 329
    I got two Hydrangeas a couple of months ago, a runaway bride as well as a "little blue" which looked rather poorly with a zillion stems and frost bite leaves. Gave the little blue a haircut and potted both up using 50% ericaceous compost 25% John innes no3 and 25% potting grit with a few stones at the base so as not to block drainage. Runaway bride didn't really need ericaceous compost and could have used MPC but I had some anyway so decided to use it. I used bark to mulch the top. Both plants have been in morning sun, afternoon shade but will probably move them to dappled shade later in the year as it gets hotter, although runaway bride is supposed to be ok in morning sun. I have not given either any fertilizer but will probably give them some hydrangea feed over the next few days.

    As you can see both are very happy and the condition it was when it arrived from crocus! Some say that the runaway bride needs to be dead headed for continued bloom but still undecided as it looks so pretty, might pinch a few if they start to wilt or perhaps do it anyway in mid July.

  • luis_prluis_pr Hurst, Texas Zone 8aPosts: 122
    Nice pictures, nice hydrangeas and good taste in container colors, Elfer!
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