I have so many favorite plants, but Hydrangea quercifolia or Oakleaf Hydrangea is one of my favorite favorites. It is a beautiful four-season plant which is another way of saying, it saves time and money.
Native to the southeast, it is a great addition to our local gardens. It grows six to eight feet, with some varieties topping out at twelve feet. The large leaves emerge a light green in spring, turning deep green by summer, giving this plant a lush appearance. The summer bloom is a cone shaped flower which can be a foot long. The blooms are primarily white, developing a pink tinge, and then a deeper russet as their season ends. The leaves of the Oakleaf hydrangea remain in place well into the winter. The leaves turn shades of deep purple and red, staying on the plant until November and sometimes into December. Come January when the leaves are finally gone, the beautiful peeling bark of the plant can be seen and along with the dried flower heads, provide a good deal of winter interest that many gardens often lack.
Oakleaf hydrangeas can handle the heat, but prefer some afternoon shade. They do not ‘faint’ in the middle of the day as their mophead cousins do. They also do not like wet feet, so make sure there is good drainage when planting. Pruning is rarely necessary, but if you do, make sure it is done after blooming and before the end of August. The following year’s flower buds are set in late summer and early fall
I am a big fan of white and a big fan of hydrangeas, so this plant is high on my ‘must have’ list.