Hydrangeas aren’t particularly enjoyed by pests and bugs, but occasionally there are a few pests that will cause trouble.
Sometimes, it’s the leaves of your hydrangeas that suffer the pest attack, other times, bugs will wreak havoc on blooms.
Knowing which pests or bugs take a liking to your hydrangeas and what you can do about them will help you prevent attacks or treat the ones that underway.
Below, I cover all the pests that may threaten your hydrangeas and offer solutions on how you can get rid of them quickly and efficiently.
Common Hydrangea Pests & Treatments
Pests, insects and bugs can set up shop on your hydrangeas causing all sorts of trouble. Here are the most common ones you should watch out for:
Aphids are small, green or black insects that feed on the sap of plants causing leaves to curl. To feed on the sap, these soft-bodied insects will usually attack new growths because they’re much easier to penetrate.
Ants on your hydrangeas can also indicate an underlying aphid problem because ants like to feed on the honeydew left behind by aphids.
If you don’t want to go down the route of insecticidal soaps and sprays, you can try addressing the issue by first spray hosing down the leaves with water.
If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to spray your hydrangeas with a broad range insecticidal soap or one that’s formulated to kill off aphids.
You’ll be quick to notice these bugs with shiny green and brown bodies munching on the petals or leaves of your hydrangeas.
Swarms of beetles can take down an entire plant in a matter of days, so if you notice them on your hydrangeas, it’s best that you take them down first.
The most straightforward way to deal with them is to remove them manually. Pesticides are another option.
Slugs are another pest that can start eating the leaves of your hydrangeas if decaying matter is not around for them to feed on instead.
Ragged leaf edges or holes in your hydrangea leaves signal a slug problem. Slugs are active at night and can be captured with slug traps.
You can also spray the plant with soapy water to deter them from the leaves.
– Spider Mites
Spider mites gather on the underside of leaves and spin protective silk webs. As insects that feed on the sap of plants, they puncture leaves.
The webs are one way to tell if you have a spider mite infestation; the other way is to look for yellow or off-white spots on the leaves.
Spider mites thrive in hot and dry conditions. To treat a spider mite infestation, you can use miticides, natural or not, such as neem oil and Pyrethrum.
Ladybugs are a natural predator of spider mites. You can introduce ladybugs to your garden, and they will help you keep spider mites at bay.
Another sap-feeding insect that can damage hydrangeas are whiteflies. These are small, 1/16 inch long, white-winged insects that live on leaves.
Symptoms of a whitefly infestation include yellowing of the leaves, accumulation of honeydew (and ants as a corollary). In advanced cases, stunted growth and dieback can also be observed.
As far as insecticides go, the insecticide imidacloprid is most efficient against whiteflies. However, it has a detrimental effect on pollinators and other beneficial insects, so you might want to use it as a last resort.
Natural alternatives include neem oil or you can use a homemade mixture of dish soap, water and rubbing alcohol.
Keeping Pests Away
There are a few ways you can reduce the occurrence of infestations and bug problems:
– Planting distance
Unless you’re planning a hydrangea hedge, don’t plant your hydrangeas too close to each other.
Depending on variety keep a 6-8 foot distance between hydrangea shrubs.
This will reduce the chances of pests and other diseases spreading from one shrub to the other.
Water your hydrangeas at the base of the plant so that leaves don’t get wet.
This can cause fungal diseases. Water in the early morning so that leaves have enough time to dry should they get wet.
Because some insects thrive when the weather is dry and warm, hosing down the leaves of your hydrangeas can help.
But make sure the stream is not too strong as it can easily damage leaves.
Remove dead, diseased leaves and blooms, especially to increase aeration, which will reduce diseases, but it can also keep some pests away.
When pruning, make sure to disinfect blades between snips to avoid spreading diseases and eggs of pests to other parts of the same shrub or to other shrubs.
– Preventative spraying
Spraying with organic pesticides or insecticides like neem oil or other commercially available ready-to-use formulations can help prevent pest problems.
Spraying your hydrangeas from time to time will keep pests at bay and/or reduce their numbers.
– Visual inspection of leaves
Prevention starts with monitoring the state of your hydrangeas.
Visually inspect the leaves at every watering and take a peek at the underside of the leaves too, since many pests set up shop there.
When possible, remove pests manually (e.g., slugs, beetles). If there are heavily infested leaves or entire stems, you can remove them to prevent spreading.
Identifying the problem and applying the treatment on time will reduce the likelihood of serious damage and uncontrollable infestation.
– Natural predators
One of the easiest ways to deal with certain pest problems is to introduce beneficial bugs into your garden that will feed on these pests without damaging your plants. Ladybugs can remove a lot of pests including spider mites.
While hydrangeas aren’t a particularly delectable treat to pests and insects, they do get infested occasionally.
Some of the pests will attack leaves, others will munch on bloom petals.
Prevention is the best strategy to deal with pesky pests, but don’t dismiss treatment options either when it comes to it.
Favor organic, natural pest repellents in your preventative care or treatment regimen and reach for the hard chemicals only as a last resort.