Thursday, May 20, 2010

What is an oakleaf hydrangea?

What is an oakleaf hydrangea?
Oakleaf hydrangea is a native plant for all seasons. Early spring brings the excitement of tender, lettuce-green emerging leaves. Then, in late spring, the flower clusters appear—large creamy pyramids that tend to put one in mind of giant soft-serve ice cream cones. Aging is a long and beautiful process for these flowers: As the months pass, they change from light pink to rose to a pleasing tan, and they remain on the plant well into winter. The leaves stick around a long time, too, turning rich wine colors and hanging on until late November or even early December. Come January, the sculptural branches and peach-colored exfoliating bark provide plenty of winter interest.

This grand plant is easy to grow. It’s disease and insect free, drought tolerant once established, and heavy blooming even in shade. Oakleaf hydrangea has a naturally beautiful shape and rarely needs pruning, but if you do choose to prune, you’ll want to wait until immediately after flowering, since buds are set in early fall. The Georgia Native Plant Society named oakleaf hydrangea its Plant of the Year for 2000.

Family: Hydrangeaceae (Hydrangea Family)

Description: Large deciduous shrub with 3 to 8" oak-shaped leaves. 4 to 12" elongated panicles of creamy white flowers appear in late spring. Fall leaf color is red, purple, and burgundy.

Size: 6 to 8’ high and wide.

Habit: Large, coarse-textured, upright, irregular shrub; tends to sucker and form colonies.

Growth Rate: Slow to medium.

Light: Part shade to full shade.

Planting and Care: For best results, plant in moist, well-drained, acid soil. Plants are fairly drought tolerant once established.

Ornamental Value: Attributes include interesting, large, lobed summer foliage; showy white flowers clusters in late spring; wine-colored leaves in fall; and exfoliating bark.

Landscape Usage: Use in the shrub border, as a specimen, or in masses at the edge of a wooded area.

Wildlife Benefits: Seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals.

Native Habitat: Found along streams and riversides and on hillsides in open woods in the Piedmont, mountains, and Coastal Plain.

Propagation: Layering, division, semi-hardwood cuttings, seed (no stratification).
Reply:Hydrangea quercifolia reaches a height of up to 6 ft. It is a deciduous shrub of loose habit, with broadly ovate dark green leaves that have three to seven sharp lobes similar to an oak leaf. Many grow it for its bold handsome foliage. The flowers are white and appear in erect terminal panicles, 4-12 in long in July.In the fall the leaves turn bronzy-purple, a spectacular sight.

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