Oakleaf Hydrangea Info: How To Care For An Oakleaf Hydrangea

White Flowered Oakleaf Hydrangea Plant
oakleaf bloom
(Image credit: Gardening Know How, via Nikki Tilley)

You’ll recognize oakleaf hydrangea by its foliage. The leaves are lobed and resemble those of oak trees. Oakleafs are native to the United States, unlike their famous cousins with pink and blue “mophead” flowers, and are tough, cold hardy, and drought resistant. Read on for more oakleaf hydrangea information and tips on how to care for an oakleaf hydrangea.

Oakleaf Hydrangea Information

Native to the southeastern part of the country, oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) are attractive all year long. These hydrangea shrubs bloom in spring and early summer. The panicle flowers are greenish white when they are young, picking up subtle shades of pink and brown as they age. 

After new flowers stop coming, the blooms stay on the plant and look lovely as they mature. The lobed leaves can grow large, up to 12 inches (31 cm.) long. Bright green in spring and fall, they turn brilliant shades of red and orange as autumn turns into winter. 

They are also lovely and interesting shrubs in winter since the bark peels back, revealing the dark layer beneath. These features make it a pleasure to start growing oakleaf hydrangeas in your garden. You will find that oakleaf hydrangea care is quite easy.

Growing Oakleaf Hydrangeas

When you start growing oakleaf hydrangeas, you need to learn more about oakleaf hydrangea care. Like most hydrangeas, oakleaf requires a location with some sun and well-draining soil to thrive. 

Oakleaf hydrangea information tells you that these shrubs can grow in shady areas, making them more versatile garden plants. You’ll get better fall flowers, however, with a little more sun. Ideally, plant them where they get direct sunlight in the morning and more shade in the afternoon. 

These shrubs can grow in cooler regions, down to USDA plant hardiness zone 5. However, you’ll find that growing oakleaf hydrangeas is easier in regions that get some heat in summer.

How to Care for an Oakleaf Hydrangea

If you planted your hydrangea correctly, you should find that growing oakleaf hydrangeas is not difficult. These native shrubs are virtually disease and pest free and, once established, are drought tolerant.

 Oakleaf hydrangea information tells you that the plants can grow 10 feet (3 m.) tall with an 8 foot (2 m.) spread. If you haven’t allowed sufficient room for their mature size, you may have to start pruning the hydrangeas to keep them small enough for the space. Pruning oakleaf hydrangeas can also help establish a full shrub. 

Pinch back new growth or else trim older growth if this is your intent. Since these shrubs bloom on the prior year’s growth, don’t prune them until they bloom. This gives them time to grow new buds that will bloom again the following summer.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.