It’s bold, has great crimson fall color, and it’s beautiful. And did I mention BOLD? Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) is not a shrub for the timid or faint of heart. With eight-inch long leaves shaped, not surprisingly, like an oak’s and twelve-inch white flower panicles, the Oakleaf brings a large and highly noticeable coarse texture to the landscape that contrasts nicely against the finer, smaller leaves of nearby plants.
At 6-8 feet tall by six feet in width, its overall size is also not a trivial matter when devising the best placement for this native beauty. Oh did I not mention that? In addition to its innate attractiveness as an accent plant, the Oakleaf Hydrangea is one of two hydrangea species native to the continental U.S., the other being the shade loving Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens). A native to woodlands in the southeastern United States, Oakleafs fair well and even thrive in deep shade where their already massive leaves can grow to the size of large dinner plates in order to soak up available sunlight, making them the perfect addition to a woodland garden or naturalized landscape. They look lovely planted singly as accent or specimen plants, but make a bold statement when planted in large groupings. They can also function as attractive and uncommon hedges or foundation plantings.
Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) grows best in zones 5-9, reaches a height 6-8 feet with a spread of about 4-6 feet, prefers well-drained slightly alkaline soils, flourishes best in partial shade, blooms in late summer to early fall on old wood, and is best known for its dark green oak-shaped leaves. Common varieties sold are ‘Alice’ and ‘Snow Queen’.