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Plant an Oakleaf Hydrangea in a Shade Garden

This is the time of year I absolutely love! The mornings are nice and comfortably warm to be able to sit outside, but by late afternoon it’s nice and hot. In the yard, my garden is finally filling in and lush! We have some really large trees on our property, and so we have quite a few shade garden areas. When we first moved in, I struggled with finding plants that would be pretty, and have some flowers so the tree areas didn’t look too bare. One shrub came from a division in my mom’s yard.I knew  I had to plant an Oakleaf Hydrangea (hydrangea quercifolia) the minute I saw it and it quickly has become one of my favorite early summer to late fall features in the yard! It’s planted in our secret path area and makes a nice compact, statement just before the arbor.

Oakleaf hydrangea blooming with white flowers

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The nice thing about the Oakleaf Hydrangea is that it grows all over North America and has  wide hardiness zone. It is an understory tree (a lot like my Forest Pansy Redbud).It doesn’t like full sun, so it’s perfect in those shady areas and under larger, towering trees!

Oakleaf hydrangea wiith white flowers

The Oak Leaf Hydrangea is a native to every state in the Untied States and is very drought tolerant! The usda hardiness is zones 5-9. In those conditions it will grow 3 -12 feet tall. Mine seems to have topped out at about 6 feet, which is perfect for the area I have it in. The flower clusters develop on old wood, and pruning is generally not needed except to control it’s shape. Prune an Oakleaf Hydrangea just after it starts to bloom in late spring.

Midsummer Oakleaf hydrangea turning from cream to pink

The mophead flowers are pretty in every stage and the bark has an interesting texture!  The foliage resembles those of an oak tree, hence the name. The flowers  themselves start as a creamy white, and then fade to a really pretty strawberry pink and then dry to a rusty brown.This makes the flowers of the Oakleaf Hydrangea  great for dried arrangements as well.

Oakleaf hydrangea turning pink to brown

I love clipping the Oakleaf hydrangea at every stage including when the flower buds appear. It’s almost hard not to over clip it and leave it alone. As a shrub, it is slightly more resistant to powdery mildew than other hydrangeas. It does have common pest and insect issues such as aphids,  and spider mites which can be seen by the curling brown leaves. Deer will also munch on these pretty bushes down to the stem. They can also get leaf blight which will sow up on the bottom leaves first. This can normally be controlled with a fungicide.

Oakleaf hydrangea with pink flowers turning brown

The large oak-like leaves make a statement in the landscape on their own! They look amazing in a mass planting and many times, will send up suckers. You can dig out the  Oakleaf hydrangea baby plants and replant them elsewhere as they transplant well! They have also been used in the past to create a gorgeous hedge.

Oak leaf hydrangeas generally are self-sufficient, don’t need fertilizer, but to appreciate either mulch or plant such as hosta planted around their base. They grow at a rate of 12″-24″ a year.

Leaves of the Oakleaf Hydrangea

They also make a really amazing  vase filler. While they don’t always last as long as other flowers, for a few days they look amazing!  Their large, glossy leaves add some real drama.  For another gorgeous shrub in your landscaping, try the Eastern Snowball Viburnum.

Oakleaf hydrangea in a vase

What I also love is I’ve accidentally rooted them in a vase, and been able to transplant them!  Forget about something in a vase long enough, it’s either going to die or grow. This one mostly grows. I kind of love happy accidents like that (check out this post to find out about other plants you can root in water.).

They seem hardier than other hydrangeas as well. I have quite a few varieties in my yard and these are quite robust. They have to be my second favorite next to my pinky-winkies. You can find an Oakleaf Hydrangea to purchase here under live plants.

Love the idea of making more plants for free? Check out this post.