|Hydrangea quercifolia subsp. var.||Oakleaf hydrangea|
Hydrangea quercifolia sprouts shoots from underground stolons and often grows in colonies. Young stems are covered in a felt-like light brown bark, and the larger stems have attractive cinnamon-tan-orange bark that shreds and peels in thin flakes.
Leaves are yellowish green on top and downy-white underneath. They have three, five or seven pointed lobes and are 4-12 in (1.2-30.5 cm) long and almost as wide. Plants in shade have larger leaves than those grown in sun. Hydrangea quercifolia leaves turn rich shades of red, bronze and purple in autumn that persist in winter.
Flowers are borne in erect panicles 6-12 in (15.2-30.5 cm) tall and 3-5 in (7.6-12.7 cm) wide at branch tips. Flowers age in colour from creamy white, aging to pink and by autumn and winter are a dry, papery rusty-brown.
Hydrangea quercifolia grows best in a woodland situation on alkaline soils. Preferring partial to almost full shade, with morning sun and afternoon shade is best as optimum. Oakleaf hydrangea will tolerate drought, but may not flower. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-9. 'Snow Queen' is hardy to Zone 5; other cultivars and species may not be. Propagation is via cutting or division..
Fresh or dry, hydrangea quercifolia is an attractive cut flower.
Pests and diseases
There are several named cultivars of Hydrangea quercifolia:
- Pee Wee under 3-4 ft (0.9-1.2 m) in height.
- Snow Flake which has 12-15 in (30.5-38.1 cm) clusters of double flowers.
- Snow Queen cold-hardy and with denser flower clusters.
Oakleaf hydrangea and the popular peegee hydrangea (H. paniculata) are the only hydrangeas with cone-shaped flower clusters; all the others have their flowers in ball-shaped or flat-topped clusters.
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963