Oakleaf Hydrangea – Brown and Crispy Leaves

Q: My oakleaf hydrangea looks awful! The leaves are brown and crispy.

A: You have a quandary. Like mophead hydrangea, oak leaf hydrangea blooms on stems that grew this year. If you prune all of the dead-looking stems in November you won’t have any flowers next year. But the drought has parched both kinds of hydrangea, so neither looks good now. I’d remove all of the dead flowers first, then lightly scrape the bark of the tallest stems to see which ones have live green tissue underneath. If any are dead all the way to the ground, remove them. Of the remaining stems, shorten the tallest ones by half but leave some of the shorter stems untouched. They will produce flowers next year and the tall stems you pruned will flower the following year.

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