If you notice holes or discolored spots on your hydrangea leaves, you’re probably already searching for the culprit.
You’re sure something’s feeding on them, but what?
Can you figure out what is eating your hydrangeas just by looking at them?
In this article, we’ll look at how to diagnose a pest problem in hydrangeas, and what you can do about it.
What is Eating My Hydrangea Leaves?
If there are webs on the hydrangea leaves, the problem is spider mites. Slugs are the problem if there’s a jagged pattern to the bite marks. Aphids are the problem if there are a lot of ants on the plants due to the honeydew. You can find Japanese beetles on hydrangeas in the middle of the summer.
It might not be this simple to find out who is eating your hydrangeas, but it is a start.
If you can understand the damage to the leaves, that will give you an initial understanding of who is doing the eating. However, to make an identification you will need to see the pests with your own eyes.
Snails can often be found at night. The others should be readily visible if you spend enough time around the plants.
Once you have seen the damage and identified the pest, you can take steps to protect your hydrangeas.
It’s also possible that the issue isn’t a pest at all, but rather a fungal infection that looks like bits.
If the problem areas are brown or yellow, it might not be a pest at all.
4 Common Hydrangea Pests
1. Spider Mites
These tiny arachnids eat the sap and lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves. They wrap infected areas in webbing and the plant matter quickly decays as they eat at it.
You can remove spider mites by spraying with a water solution of insecticidal soap.
If you’re outdoors or you don’t want to use insecticides, you can discourage spider mites by keeping your hydrangeas wet and cool since spider mites prefer hot and dry environments.
You can also add ladybugs, who eat spider mites.
These soft-bodied creatures cause immense damage to the hydrangea leaves quickly. They aren’t easy to see using merely the naked eye, but the honeydew residue that they leave behind attracts ants.
You can treat aphids by spraying the hydrangea with water (a strong stream of it) or washing down its leaves with an insecticidal soap solution.
Jagged bite marks are characteristic of slugs munching on hydrangeas.
To get rid of them, spray the plant with a soapy solution. If that doesn’t work, you can set traps around the plants to kill the snails.
4. Japanese Beetles
These large brown and green insects can eat a lot of hydrangeas, especially when there are a lot of them in the middle of the summer.
Unfortunately, the best way to defend your hydrangeas from these beetles is manual — by pulling them off the plant and crushing them or throwing them into a bucket of soapy water.
Frequently Asked Questions about Pests that Eat on Hydrangea Leaves
How Do You Protect Hydrangea Leaves?
Although there are many insecticides available, these might not be efficient until you see what is eating the hydrangea. But, if your plant’s leaves are brown, spotted, and discolored, the issue may be fungal and might need to use specific fungal treatments, or remove the leaves entirely.
What Can I Spray On My Hydrangeas?
A solution of water and insecticidal soap works against the most common hydrangea pests. There are also organic and chemical pesticides that are designed to protect against pests, as well as natural pesticides like neem oil. For mold, you would need a fungal spray.
Should I Cut Damaged Leaves Off Hydrangea?
If there are any infected or dying parts of your hydrangea, remove them cleanly so that the plant can recuperate and redirect its energy toward new growth. Although cutting off damaged leaves does make the plant initially weaker, it will recuperate better than if it were hampered by pests.
Finding Out What’s Eating Your Hydrangeas
Diagnosing plant problems is an inexact science, but you can get a fairly good idea of what is eating your hydrangeas just by looking at the leaves.
Are there holes? Are there jagged bite marks?
Do you see any residue? Are there any brown or yellow areas?
Understanding the signs of the most common hydrangea pests can help you identify them quickly.
Slugs chew jagged holes in leaves. Aphids leave a residue that attracts ants.
Spider mites make webs. Japanese beetles are large enough to be spotted immediately.
If it’s not an obvious pest, it could be a fungal infection, which requires an entirely different course of treatment.
Hydrangeas don’t have a lot of common pests and are very resilient plants, but they do have some issues with spider mites, aphids, slugs, and Japanese beetles.
When you know to look for the signs and you can take action quickly, it’s possible to protect your plants from getting eaten.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.