Tag Archives: hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangea quercifolia – Oakleaf hydrangea

27 Aug

 By Stacie Palmer – Planscaper at Dennis’ 7 Dees

Snow Queen

Let us introduce you to an autumn superstar: oakleaf hydrangea. You may be under the assumption that all hydrangeas are alike; myth debunked!

Native to the North American southeast, oakleaf hydrangea thrives in partial sun and rich, porous soil that has good drainage. Although oakleaf hydrangea is more tolerant of drier soil than mophead and lacecap hydrangeas, it is a plant that prefers regular water—definitely while establishing in the garden. Note: it does not tolerate ‘wet feet,’ so ensure that you’ve properly amended soil for optimal drainage. Fast growing, this rounded deciduous shrub introduces delectable texture, color, and presence.

From its deeply-lobed, large deep green leaves, to its elongated creamy-white flower panicles, gorgeous fall color, and cinnamon-color bark, this extraordinary shrub offers literally 12 months of interest. Better yet, there’s a variety for both large and small gardens!

fall color!

Spring arrives and we revel in oakleaf hydrangea’s amply-sized foliage. Late summer the flowers arrive! As summer progresses, the flower panicles transition from white to rosy/pinkish-mauve, and persist on the shrub well into fall–if you can resist cutting them for a bouquet! Summer winds down, the nights become cool, and plants prepare for slumber. It is at this time the foliage magically transforms into a feast for the eyes, rich with color. Green leaves evolve into an absolutely stunning crimson with purple and/or bronze tones. Enjoy the show, for winter is not far behind. Once oakleaf hydrangea drops its leaves, exfoliating cinnamon-colored bark is revealed. The plant’s unique texture holds us over until spring arrives and the cycle begins anew.

Pee Wee fall color

Common varieties of Hydrangea quercifolia are ‘Snow Queen,’ which produces stacks of single florets, and grows to an average of 4’-6’ tall and wide. Looking for something smaller? ‘Pee Wee’ matures at a mere 3’-4’ tall and wide and has all the same unique traits as its larger cousin. Either variety makes a wonderful specimen/focal point, massed grouping, or foundation plant within a bed.

Pee Wee

Should you need to prune your oakleaf hydrangea, do so after it has flowered to avoid cutting off next year’s flower buds. Pruning of this plant is not required, yet some people do so to create what is generally considered a ‘tidier’ look. Keep in mind that flowers can persist on the plant well into early winter, adding to its seasonal interest. Flowers left on the plant over the winter can easily be snapped off the branches in early spring (done just below the origin of the flower, taking caution to not disturb the new growth about to happen). Carefully remove dead branches at any time.

Looking to bring the beauty indoors? Just as other species of hydrangeas, the flowers of the oakleaf make a wonderful addition to a fresh and/or dried arrangement.

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