Equally stunning in the landscape as it is in cut floral arrangements, Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea Quercifolia) is a deciduous shrub beloved for its lush blooms and graceful form. It is more winter-hardy than the mophead or lacecap varieties (macrophyllas) hydrangeas, and can live quite happily in dryer locations than these varieties. Typically Oakleaf hydrangeas come in two forms: single and double-blossom types.
The Oakleaf gets its name from the shape of its beautiful large leaves, which often turn brilliant shades of orange, yellow and burgundy in the fall if planted in a sunny location with a little afternoon shade. The Oakleaf can handle hot summers, but it needs good drainage, with average water needs. It is not happy with “wet feet.” Its long-lasting blooms carry through from early to late summer. Cuttings are show-stoppers in a floral arrangement, and make a particularly beautiful, and long-lasting dried floral arrangements.
Native and early varieties have white flowers that fade to blush pink before deepening to a dusky rose. If left on the plants into winter, the flower heads mature to a honey tone, for added color and texture to the winter landscape. Newer varieties include different color flowers, such as pink… and come in a range of sizes. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘PeeWee’ and ‘Sikes Dwarf’ are perfect for smaller gardens, growing only to about 4 feet tall and wide.
White Oakleaf hydrangea varieties include ‘Snow Queen,’ which grow 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. Blooms are white with single petals. ‘Alice’ is another single flowered white variety that grows 5 to 8 feet tall and wide. ‘Snowflake’ is a variety sold as a double flower, with twice the number of petals for a fuller, richer look. ‘Gatsby Moon’ has double florets similar to ‘Harmony,’ but is more weather-resistant. Its blooms fade from white to a lovely green that remains for most of the summer. Its leaves turn a rich burgundy in the fall. ‘Gatsby Star’ is truly unique – the panicle hydrangea blooms are covered in tiny star-shaped petals that remain brilliant white all season long.
Oakleaf hydrangeas make an attractive informal hedge and look beautiful against a backdrop of everygreens. Oakleaf hydrangeas will need at least a year to get established, and blooms appear on old wood. Prune during mid-summer, after blooming. This way you won’t cut off the flower buds for the current year or inadvertently remove next year’s potential blooms.
For more information on the various Hydrangea varieties, check out this great chart from Proven Winners.
Here are some of the Hydrangeas here at Farmside – Limelight Hydrangea Hedge – one of our favorites in full bloom now at Farmside!
Contact us at Farmside Landscape & Design for more ideas on landscaping with flowering shrubs.
Main image photo credit: Proven Winners – Gatsby Pink® Oakleaf hydrangea