It’s time for another featured plant and this month, we’ve chosen one of the most reliable, tough, and beautiful plants we can think of – the oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)!
Oakleaf hydrangeas are just putting on their stunning show of big white blooms in the early summer and they’ll hold those blooms all summer long! When the summer ends, the blooms will dry down but remain on the plant for beautiful winter interest. They also have amazing fall colors of purples and reds on their large, unique leaves before losing them for the winter. After the leaves drop, you’ll be left with plenty to look at in the winter with their dried flowers and colorful, exfoliating (peeling) bark.
The oakleaf hydrangea is native to the eastern US which means, in our local area, this plant is a great choice for supporting local insects and wildlife. This is one of the best native plants for big, bold blooms which our clients love and we install a lot of them! Four season interest, fast growing, super tough, and good for our ecosystem? You can’t ask for much more in a plant.
Like every other plant, you need to have the right spot for this plant. Oakleaf hydrangeas are pretty sizable plants so you’ll need quite a bit of space for this plant. They are very fast growing and can easily reach up to 8-10 feet tall and wide within 10 years. There is a dwarf variety ‘Sikes Dwarf’ that is supposed to stay around 3-4 feet tall and wide but we don’t really trust it to stay quite that small. Plan on the ‘Sikes Dwarf’ still growing to 5-6 feet tall and wide.
Oakleaf hydrangeas grow best with a little bit of shade from the hottest parts of the day but we’ve seen them growing in full sun situations and they are doing just fine. Placing them in partial shade gives you the longest period to enjoy those white blooms and the leaves will last a bit longer into the fall than when planted in full sun. This is one of our go-to plants for privacy borders and for creating backdrops in shadier flower beds. Check out some photos from our installation of these plants!
Here’s our quick summary on the oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)!
Sunlight: Shade, Part shade, or Full Sun (best in part shade)
Soil: Average, well-drained soil
Water: Drought tolerant after establishment
Maintenance: Prune after flowering for shaping purposes. Should be a loose, natural shape. Do not prune into boxes or balls.
Hardiness Zone: 5-9
Bloom Time: Early summer to late summer
Size: 6-10′ tall and wide
Landscape Uses: Back edges of landscape beds, naturalized areas, privacy screens