Garden Care

11 Common Problems With Oak Leaf Hydrangeas: How To Deal?

Oak leaf hydrangeas, with their green foliage and colorful blooms, add a touch of charm to gardens and landscapes.

Yet, beneath their beauty lies several potential challenges that can thwart their vitality and allure.

There are some common problems with oak leaf hydrangeas that damage these remarkable plants.

Understanding these potential pitfalls helps gardeners preserve and nurture these botanical trees, especially in cold seasons. Let’s dive in!

What Are The Problems With Oak Leaf Hydrangeas And Their Solutions?

problems with oak leaf hydrangeas

Common oakleaf hydrangea problems include chlorosis, mites, root rot, mildew, and other plant diseases.

They can affect these plant types’ health and beauty, especially during the flowering period, resulting in stunted growth over time.

Yellow Leaves Due To Chlorosis

Yellowing leaves, known as chlorosis, occur when new leaves take on a yellow spot appearance, often with green veins. The cause is often low iron levels in the acidic soil.

To deal with chlorosis, you can use a special kind of iron product that you can get at gardening stores. Following the directions, put this in the soil to ensure you use the right amount.

Another good idea is to change the soil’s acidity by adding sulfur or pine needles when you plant the hydrangeas. This alkaline soil helps the plant get the iron it needs from the ground.

Leaf Margins Burned By Mites

Tiny mites, some barely visible, can take a toll on oak leaf hydrangeas. These common pests often make the edges of the leaves appear burnt, similar to sunscald.

When the pest infestation grows, these leaves can develop multiple brown spots and start wilting.

A useful solution is to spray the undersides of the leaves with adequate water early in the morning to dislodge the mites.

If this approach doesn’t work, you can use insecticidal soapy water as per the instructions on the label to treat the mites.

Another preventive measure is to apply dormant oil spray to the bare canes in early spring before leaves emerge. It can help eliminate many overwintering mites.

Leaves Skeletonized And Panicle Flowers Damaged By Rose Chafers

Rose chafers, the sluggish insects, may create holes in the leaves and wreak havoc on the showy flowers.

They feed on the petals and leave behind their waste, rendering the attractive flowers dirty or even resulting in residual flowers and papery bark.

Manual removal by hand can be effective for only a few leaf beetles. However, applying a synthetic insecticide spray later in the day can provide control for larger infestations.

If rose chafers still appear, covering the plants with cheesecloth or white garden fleece is best. It should be done about a week before the expected appearance of these beetles.

Leaves Curled And Distorted By Aphids

oakleaf hydrangea problems

Troublesome aphids gather on tender shoots and leaves, using their mouthparts to draw out plant sap. This activity stunts growth and deforms the oakleaf hydrangea flowers and leaves.

As a result, hydrangea might change color to yellow or brown leaves. It leads to curled or puckered foliage, even dead leaves under direct sunlight.

Just like how you deal with aphids on kale, a cold water spray three times a day, especially early morning, can dislodge the pests from the diseased plant’s surfaces.

Besides, you can use insecticidal soap according to the label instructions as an alternative solution.

Leaves Webbed Together By Leaftiers

The caterpillars are like little green worms with dark heads, eating the leaves and sticking them together to make a hiding leaf spot. The leaves can even turn brown and die because of the damage.

If you don’t have many caterpillars on plants, you can squash them to eliminate them. But if there are many, you can use something called “Bt.” 

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis Toxins) is like a helpful bacteria you put on the leaves. When the caterpillars nibble the leaves with Bt on them, they stop eating and die in a day or two.

Small Bumps On Twigs Caused By Scale Insects

Tiny insects might leave those little bumps on the twigs of your oak leaf hydrangeas. These bugs, especially the oyster shell scale, can sometimes bother these plants.

You can use a special oil called “superior” horticultural oil, spraying on the plants where you see the bumps. It covers the bugs and stops them from breathing, which helps you get rid of them.

Knotted Growths On Stems And Roots Due To Nematodes

Nematodes cause lumpy growths on the sturdy stems and strong roots of your oak leaf hydrangeas by poking into plants and sucking from them. This makes the oak leaf hydrangea fall off.

The hydrangea starts looking weak, its leaves droop, it stays small, and its dark green leaves might turn yellow or brown.

To deal with these pests, you can put a lot of compost or leaf mold in the dry soil around your smooth hydrangeas. It helps good fungi grow and fight against nematodes.

Also, you can pour fish emulsion into the soil surface around the plants. This feeds the deciduous shrubs and keeps the nematodes away.

Flower Buds Spotted, Deteriorate From Botrytis Blight

Botrytis blight, also one of the cedar tree diseases, can give rise to bacterial leaf spots on oakleaf hydrangea buds and fertile flowers, along with subsequent wilting and the development of gray fuzzy growth.

This is among the fungal oakleaf hydrangea diseases that thrive in humid environments and can rapidly spread. Resolving this issue involves the following steps:

  • Remove infected leaves and sterile flowers
  • Water the plant to provide adequate moisture on lobed foliage
  • Enhance air circulation around plants
  • In severe cases, use fungicides labeled for combating Botrytis leaf blight.

Leaves Covered With White Powder (Powdery Mildew)

Oak leaf hydrangea shrubs can suffer from powdery mildew, recognizable by the white powdery layer on leaf undersides. This ailment can turn the leaves purple or even purplish-brown.

A remedy involves sulfur fungicide application, coating all plant parts as per guidelines. Fallen foliage must be cleared in autumn to prevent fungus overwintering.

Besides, you can try anti-transpirant sprays to enhance leaf resistance by deterring spore attachment.

Leaves Spotted With Brown Pustules (Rust)

Powdery brown (rust disease) can make leaves brittle, forming yellowish to rusty brown pustules, mainly on the undersides of leaves. Overwintering occurs on older plant parts.

Dealing with this problem includes pruning and discarding affected branches. Meanwhile, applying garden sulfur to unaffected areas weekly until symptoms diminish can help.

This strategy ensures the well-being of oak leaf hydrangeas.

Armillaria Root Rot

care of oakleaf hydrangea

Armillaria root rot is a fungal disease that infiltrates through waterlogged roots. It can be exacerbated by poor water drainage.

While all hydrangeas require well-drained soil, larger varieties are especially vulnerable.

You can use fungicides, although they have limited effectiveness. Besides, uprooting and sealing the infected plant within a plastic bag can control the disease.


How Much Sun Does An Oakleaf Hydrangea Need?

Oakleaf species thrive with morning sun and afternoon shade. Providing a space in your garden that receives morning and direct sunlight per day is best.

Moreover, partial shade is also ideal for healthy growth and optimal bloom time.

What Is The Best Oakleaf Hydrangea Fertilizer?

The best fertilizer for oak leaf hydrangea can include options like manure, compost, or a balanced granular fertilizer such as a 10-10-10.

Using an organic fertilizer labeled for flowering shrubs is also effective.

Applying oakleaf hydrangea fertilizer upon planting and again in spring or fall is important, and avoiding excess fertilizer for optimal results.

How To Take Care Of Oakleaf Hydrangea?

Providing oak leaf hydrangeas with sufficient sunlight, moist but well-drained soil, and space to grow is best.

Also, overhead watering until fertilized with balanced options in spring or hot summer months can help to maintain soil moisture.

Prune as needed, but avoid late summer fertilization. Remember to remove dead flowers or spent white blooms and protect against winter cold temperatures.

These can preserve the health of the accent plants and all clusters of flowers.


While oak leaf hydrangeas are beautiful and versatile plants, they are susceptible to various issues.

Proper care or special care, from choosing the airy location to providing well-draining soil, can mitigate problems with oak leaf hydrangeas.

Pay attention to watering, old stem cuttings, winter protection, and annual pruning.

Adequate hours of morning sunlight are also best for the vigorous growth and vibrancy of these woodland garden additions.

Samuel Mark

Hello I am Samuel. Samuel's Garden is a garden blog where I share my experiences in garden caring and tree growth. Hope you enjoy it!

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