Oakleaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea quercifolia

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The flower panicles of 'Harmony' usually weigh down the branches.

Plant type: deciduous shrub
Hardiness: Zones 5 to 9

The oakleaf hydrangea forms a broad-ranging mound, supposedly four to six feet but usually getting much larger (usually wider) as it ages. Shrubs of 10 to 12 feet are common. Beginning in late spring or early summer, panicles of white flowers appear and, as the season wears on, fade to pinkish and later to brown; the cultivars usually have showier flowers than the species. The large leaves resemble the plant's namesake and are deep green in summer, turning reddish-orange to purple in fall. Exfoliating bark gives the shrub some winter interest. Overall texture is coarse, both in summer and in winter.

Cultivation: Give this shrub a moist, well-drained, rich soil in sun or part shade, and mulch to keep roots cool. Prune after flowering.

How to use it: Given its multiseason interest, the oakleaf hydrangea deserves a place in the landscape where conditions allow and there's room.

In fall the foliage of 'Snowflake' turns burgundy.

Selected cultivars:

  • 'Harmony'. Panicles are 12 inches long and usually weigh down the branches.

  • 'Pee Wee'. A compact form, averaging three feet high and wide. Flowers are four to five inches long. A great version for small gardens.

  • 'Snowflake'. The 12- to 15-inch panicles appear double-flowered as more bracts and sepals continue to form on the old flowers.

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