Brown Spots on Hydrangea Leaves

wilted hydrangea leaves
What's Wrong?

I have not grown my own hydrangeas, but I did help care for the shrub in the front yard at my rental home. The landlady did not have a green thumb, and since the plant was not really mine, I generally just made sure it got enough water so I could photograph the blooms in summer and fall.

My last year living there, I noticed that part of the plant was not as green as the rest and some of the leaves were getting brown (see photo).

I no longer live there, but I’d like to know what this is for when I do grown my own hydrangeas.

Certain types of hydrangea shrubs can get diseases and have problems with powdery mildew, and mineral deficiencies. They can be affected by mites, aphids and Japanese beetles.

In fact the yard was full of grubs which turn into Japanese beetles and although I did seem some beetles on this plant, they didn’t seem to be doing much damage.

So why are the leaves turning brown? And only on a portion of the plant? Could it be Cercospora leafspot or some other similar fungus?

I’m guessing it is a fungus which appears when the leaves stay wet and the fungus can easily spread to other leaves and hide in the fallen leaves beneath the plant.  It sounds like a good idea to clean up around the bottom of the plants and remove old leaves.  I am an organic gardener, so I would try removing as much of the infected part of the plant as I could and check the local store for an organic spray to help the situation.

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