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Oak Leaf Hydrangea

The oak leaf hydrangea is native to North America. This deciduous shrub has big coarse leaves with 3, 5 or 7 lobes and an open loose mounding growth habit. The multiple stems grow from 6 to 8 feet tall, and they spread even wider.

The new stems are coated in a felty, copper fuzz. Older stems have a pretty cinnamon/tan/orange bark that peels and shreds in thin flakes. The leaves are a yellow-green with a fuzzy white on the underside.

In the fall, the leaves turn to rich colors of purple, bronze and red. They often stay on the plant well into winter. The flowers appear in cone-shaped clusters that put on quite a display for months.

As they age, the creamy white flowers turn slightly pink. By fall they are dry, brown and papery. They make nice dried flowers.

Landscaping Ideas

The Oak leaf hydrandea looks nice as a specimen plant, but they may not suit all situations. They look very nice beneath a large oak. They also fit in well if you have a partly shady border of shrubbery or in a woodland garden.

A mixed border or massed in a group are also nice ways to display this plant. They pair nicely with azaleas, as they begin their show just as the azaleas are finishing up.

The flowers of the oak leaf hydrangea look lovely in cut bouquets and make beautiful dried flowers for arrangements. The shedding bark adds interest to the plant in the winter.

Planting and Care Tips

The oak leaf hydrangea should be planted in an area with partial shade for the best results. Mulch around the roots in summer to preserve moisture. In zone 5, winter protection is necessary, especially when the plant is young.

Pruning is optional most of the time, but when you do choose to prune, do it after flowering has finished. There are no serious problems with insects or disease with this hydrangea. They may suffer from leaf blight sometimes. The heavy flowers sometimes droop, especially after a rain.

Hydrangea Information

  • Scientific Name: Hydrangea quercifolia

  • Best Soil: Moist, well drained soil

  • Light: Sun to partial shade; can tolerate almost full shade; avoid full sun in hot climates

  • Growth Rate: Moderate

  • Foilage: Yellow-green on top and fuzzy white on the bottom with 3, 5 or 7 lobes

  • Fall Color: Red, bronze and purple

  • Bloom: White/off-white cones of flower clusters; age to pinkish tones and then turn papery brown in autumn

  • Mature Size and Shape: Grows from 6 to 8 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide in a mounded, loose form

  • Hardiness Zone: 5 - 9

  • Plant Spacing: Space them 4 to 6 feet apart

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