Take Care of Oakleaf Hydrangea

Asking me to choose my favorite plant is like asking what my favorite child is! A difficult question to answer, but since I am not in peril of harming fragile little Egos, I must say that one of my favorite plants is the oak-leaved hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). The reason for this is a plant with four seasons Of interest. I like it because it saves me time, energy and money. Once established, it rewards me spring, summer, autumn and winter.

Hydrangea quercifolia is native to the United States, growing about six to eight feet tall and sometimes up to 10 to 12 feet. The large dark green leaves have silvery undersides and are similar in shape to the Northern red oak, from which it gets its common name. It is hardy from zones 5-9.

The cone-shaped flowers can grow up to a foot long. The flowers are mostly white and gradually develop a pinkish Red that turns red with the seasons. Individual florets can be single or double.

Although I look beautiful and lush throughout spring and summer, I look forward to the next warm days and cool nights in October and November that turn the red flowers and foliage into a variety of shades of yellow, Orange, red, brown and Burgundy. In protected places, the leaves persist for a long time before falling off to show an irregular branched structure of exfoliated bark in cinnamon tones. The contrast with a blanket of white snow is breathtaking.

Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom best where summers are warm, but prefer Shade in the afternoon. It is further north and can be planted in full sun. The greater the exposure to the sun, the more productive the flowers, and you get the most spectacular autumn color.

This shrub tolerates drier soil than its Mophead cousins, but does not tolerate wet feet. Plant it in moist, well-drained, acidic soil, which was added with compost or other organic matter. It can be used as a mass planting in shady wooded areas or as a pattern in the landscape.

Although pruning is rarely necessary, you should do it after flowering and before August. The next year’s flower buds are placed inafter summer and early autumn. “Deadhead” old flowers at any time by simply cutting. I like to leave the flowers on the plant to enjoy it during the winter months.

If you cut flowers for flower arrangements, you can cut longer stems before August. After that, cut only short stems or you risk losing flowers for the next year.

You will find that oak-leaved hydrangeas are relatively free of pests and ailments. This is another plus in my book, because it means that the plants look good all year round and do their best without chemical intervention (always a last resort in my book).

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