Curly stems and leaves on my Hydrangea's

This year my Annabelle Hydrangeas are emerging inconsistently. Some of the branches and leaves look completely normal, whereas, others are growing "curly". The new stems and leaves turn every which way and some of the leaves are turning brown and shriveling up. Also, I recently noticed the same thing happening to parts of my Pee Gee Hydrangea shrub which is at the opposite end of the garden. Recently we had to remove a very large Oak tree that was shading the Annabelles very nicely.
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

Hydrangeas can suffer from sunburn, but that's more of a scorched look. The leaves will go crispy brown and fall off. The curling you describe sounds more like aphid damage, although they're not a common pest on Hydrangea. Look closely at the tops and bottoms of the leaves and along the stems to see if you can find any small insects. Even if you do find aphids, killing them won't help the damaged stems to recover this year. You'll probably just have to prune off and dispose of the contorted parts. One of the best (and surely the safest) control for aphids are ladybugs. You may be able to buy ladybugs at your local garden center. They're also available online.


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