How To Grow Oakleaf Hydrangea: Caring Of Hydrangea Quercifolia

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Hydrangea quercifolia (hy-DRAN-jee-ah kwer-sih-FOH-lee-ah) is a deciduous flowering shrub that originates in the Southeastern United States and is naturalized in many areas of North America as well as Asia.

This member of the Hydrangeaceae family of plants is commonly known as Oakleaf or Oak Leaf Hydrangea.

Hydrangea oakleaf flowers Pin

Its botanical name is derived from the Greek words for the oak tree (Quercus), water (hydor), and vessel (aggeion), and is descriptive of the leaf shape and the fruit capsule of the plant.

Growing Tips For Oakleaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea Quercifolia Care

Size and Growth

Oakleaf Hydrangea is a deciduous shrub that can grow in its mature size between 4′ and 8′ feet tall with a spread as great as 10′ feet wide. The plant has an irregular or upright growth habit.

As the common name implies, this plant has oak-like leaves. The green leaves are coarsely textured and leathery. 

In the autumn, the green foliage turns attractive shades of orange, red, burgundy, purple, and lavender.

The papery bark of the woody stems exfoliates in the autumn, revealing cinnamon-colored wood underneath. This is a great feature for winter interest.

Flowering and Fragrance

Unlike other types of hydrangeas, oakleaf hydrangea has clusters of multibranched white flowers with large panicles and pointed tips held by strong, sturdy stems. 

It also comes in both single blossom and double blossom. As the flowers age they fade shades of pink.

These lightly scented cone-shaped panicles of white blooms appear in late spring to early summer and turn light pink, lavender, and tan as the season progresses. Large, showy panicle flowers may be up to a foot long.

Oakleaf Hydrangea blooms transition into brown or copper-colored berries late in the summertime. Pollinators are attracted to the flowers, and birds enjoy the berries.

These clusters of flowers are also composed of sterile flowers that cover the fertile flowers closer to the plant’s stem.

Light and Temperature

Hydrangeas like full sun or partial shade, so six hours or more of direct morning sunlight is ideal. Alternatively, you can plant them afternoon shade with just a few hours of sunlight.

These plants are winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5a through 9b.

Watering and Feeding

Oak Leaf Hydrangea is drought-resistant and typically does well with natural rainfall. In arid areas, deep, occasional watering is preferable to frequent light watering.

Soak the root ball and soil at ground level (avoiding overhead watering) only when the top few inches of soil feel quite dry. 

Remember to avoid watering, as oakleaf hydrangeas will likely be subjected to root rot when left to stand in water.

Hydrangeas typically need little or no fertilizer; however, if you have alkaline soil, you may wish to supplement with an acidic granular fertilizer early in the springtime.

Work the fertilizer product into the soil along with existing mulch, water, and re-mulch in preparation for the spring and summer months.

Soil and Transplanting

Oakleaf Hydrangeas thrive in well-draining, moist soil but can also do well in loamy, sandy, silty, and slightly acidic soil with lots of organic matter.

When planting in the landscape, remember that these plants may attain a spread of 10′ feet, so allow a space of 6′ to 12′ feet between plants.

Plant at a depth that leaves the root flare visible at the soil’s surface. Add a 3-inch layer of organic mulch to help protect the roots and retain moisture, but don’t let the mulch touch the plant’s roots and trunk.

Remember to plant oakleaf hydrangea in the fall or milder months in spring to avoid transplant shock.

Grooming and Maintenance

Be sure to prune just after bloom time is over. These hydrangeas bloom on old wood in late summer, so pruning in the autumn could result in the loss of flower buds.

In the springtime, inspect your plant and prune away only damaged stems.

Over the winter months, they require consistent mulching, watering sessions, and protection. 

You can give winter protection and retain soil moisture by mounding 6″ to 8″ inches of mulch around the base after the ground freezes. A burlap wrap will also work.

How to Propagate Hydrangea Quercifolia

This native shrub spreads naturally through ground shoots, so you may be able to propagate it through division. 

The most common way of growing new Oak Leaf Hydrangea plants is with stem cuttings.

To do this, choose green stem tips with leaves but no blooms. You’ll want cuttings that are about 4″ to 6″ inches long and have a minimum of one growth node.

Strip the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting. Keep 2 to 4 leaves at the tip.

Dip the cutting in the rooting hormone, and place it into a pot of sterile, moist potting medium.

Place your cuttings in a location that stays consistently warm and receives bright, indirect sunlight. Remember to avoid direct sunlight because it can hinder the roots from growing.

Cover the cuttings lightly with a plastic bag to help retain humidity. Water lightly as needed. Never let the soil be soggy.

You should see root growth within about three months. When this happens, you can transplant your cuttings into larger pots or transition them into the garden.

Hydrangea Quercifolia Main Pest Or Diseases

Oakleaf hydrangeas are prone to leaf spots, so improving water drainage and soil aeration is best.

Excessively damp, humid weather can also lead to powdery mildew and leaf blight problems. Weakened plants may be subject to spider mites and aphid infestation.

Deer may eat the leaves.

Is the plant considered toxic or poisonous to people, kids, and pets?

Hydrangea quercifolia is considered toxic because it contains Hydrangin, a cyanogenic glycoside. 

Sweating, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting may ensue if the leaves, flowers, or bark are consumed.

Is the plant considered invasive?

Hydrangea quercifolia is not listed as an invasive plant.

Suggested Hydrangea Quercifolia Uses

Versatile, easy-to-grow Oakleaf Hydrangea makes an excellent addition to pollinator, butterfly, and woodland gardens. Its pretty, showy flower heads bring joy to play areas and children’s gardens.

This versatile shrub also makes an excellent choice for mixed borders, foundation planting, native plant gardens, or shade gardens.

Its showy flowers also make an excellent cut flower and can be dried for dried flower arrangements.

Planted around a bird feeder, these plants provide natural food for the birds, perches, and winter interest during cold weather.

As a specimen plant, an accent plant, hedge, woodland border, or for a mass planting, there isn’t a better choice than the Oak Leaf Hydrangea shrub with the spectacular shades of its flower and foliage color.

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