Hydrangea quercifolia Varieties
Oakleaf Hydrangea
 
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Family: Hydrangea (Hydrangeaceae)
Native Habitat: Georgia, Florida, Alabama & Mississippi

Oakleaf Hydrangea is a wonderful shrub that is native to states of the deep south. It does have surprisingly good hardiness for a plant with such a southern heritage. We have had a lovely clump of Oakleafs in our display gardens for 25 years. They have survived temperatures colder than -25F but will usually show some damage after winters that have temperatures colder than -20F. We had temperatures as cold as -20F during the winter of 2008-'09. Smaller stems were killed to the ground and larger stems did die back part way. However, re-growth was strong the next spring and the clump appeared as usual within a few months. Flowering was much reduced the next season.

This is a plant you'll enjoy in all seasons. The thick, leathery foliage is shaped like guess what? Oakleaves maybe? Both the common and Latin names proclaim that to be the case. The leaves are quite large and can provide wonderful textural contrast in the garden. Fall color can vary from dull-burgundy to bright-red. The large flower panicles can be over a foot long but are more commonly 6 to 8". The white flowers are borne in June and July. They will then begin a slow fade through a pinkish color and finally dry a medium- brown. The dried panicles will stay on the plant until the next apring unless cut off. They do make nice dried flowers for home arrangements. There is even ornamental interest in winter. The bark is a nice shade of cinnamon-brown and exfoliates in long strips giving a nifty shaggy appearance.

We give you three offerings of Oakleaf Hydrangea:

H. quercifolia - this is the regular species. Much as described above with a normal height of 5 to 6 ft. and a spread of 3 to 4 ft. However, you will see some variation among plants offered.

'Alice'- A vigorous large growing selection with extra large flower panicles. With age (if not occasionally pruned back by winter cold here in Zone 5) can reach 12 ft. high and wide. Flower panicles can be as long as 14". Nice burgundy-red fall color.

'Sikes Dwarf' - The other end of the bell curve from 'Alice'. A dwarf form that will grow to perhaps 3 ft. or a little taller. Slow growing. Foliage and flower panicles are also smaller than other forms. This is a good plant for smaller landscapes.

Ornamental Characteristics:
Large oakleaf-shaped leaves up to 8" long. Long panicles of white flowers that fade to pinkish and finally to brown. Flowers in June and July. Brownish panicles will persist thru fall. Attractive, shaggy, cinnamon-brown bark. Nice fall color of burgundy or red.
Habit & Growth Rate: Upright shrub with little branching. Slow to medium growth rate.
Landscape Uses: Shrub border, massing.
Hardiness:
Zone 5 to 9. Surprising hardiness for a plant of the deep south. May die back to the ground after hard winters. Will quickly regrow in spring. Flower buds may also be killed after coldest Zone 5 winters.
Culture:
Best in moist & well drained soil. Full sun to 1/2 shade. Probably best in part shade.
Awards: Award of Garden Merit, Royal Horticultural Society
Recommended Highly, Ohio Nursery & Landscape Assoc.