Diary April 10, 2012 - Oakleaf Hydrangea

My favourite deciduous shrub - hands down - is the Oakleaf Hydrangea. Its flowers are conical
rather than round, it has year round interest and it definitely has a strong personality! In my
designing days, I often incorporated it into clients' yards.

The shrub's latin name is Hydrangea quercifolia. It likes moist, well-drained soil and grows in
sun or shade. If it's in full sun, make sure it gets enough water. Mine is in the darkest shadiest
location of my whole garden and obviously loves it there! It's over 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide!!
The hardiness zones are 5-9.

The flowers are a lovely long conical shape. In the spring they start out a beautiful white, then
turn a delicate pink before finally changing to a bronze-y brown. If I'm feeling Martha Stewart-ish,
I cut them and spray paint them gold for the Christmas centrepiece.
The leaves are large, leather-y and shaped like an oak leaf, hence the name :)

I see this bush the instant I walk out the front door. Gorgeous!!

The colour show starts in the fall and it's pretty spectacular.  The leaves turn red, purple, orange
and burgundy. I may not wear those colours but Mother Nature somehow makes them look great together! Some articles say that the leaves aren't as colourful if in deep shade but I have not
found that. (See?)

As if the colour wasn't enough, the branches have this very interesting peeling bark that stays
throughout the winter.

Oakleaf Hydrangeas require little pruning if any (maybe if there's some winter die-back). If
there is die-back, prune only back that far.
The shrub can be used in a border or planted under tall trees but is often best used as a
specimen plant.
Give the Oakleaf Hydrangea a try this year - you may come to love it as much as I do!
 Oakleaf hydrangea is one of the few hydrangeas native to the United States (H. arborescens being the only other native of which I am aware).