Oakleaf Hydrangeas

Hydrangea quercifolia

The Oakleaf hydrangea is one of the few hydrangeas native to the United States (H. arborescens being the only other native we are aware of). This makes the shrubs easier to grow and care for.

The other benefit of growing the under-utilized oakleaf hydrangea, is that the shrubs have 4 seasons of interest! The plant has beautiful large blooms in late spring and early summer through late fall. In late fall, the leaves turn beautiful red, orange and yellow colors, much like a burning bush. Leave the flower heads on over the winter, for added winter interest and to benefit the local wildlife.

NOTE: Unlike the mophead, the Oakleaf can grow very well in drier soil, but it cannot tolerate "wet feet." It is important to provide excellent drainage when planting this hydrangeas. It can get root rot in a heart-beat if it stands in soggy soil even for short periods.

Oakleaf Hydrangea Varieties

Oakleaf Hydrangea Care

The Oakleaf hydrangea is a dramatic, white or pink blooming shrub with four seasons of interest. It blooms best in areas where summers are somewhat hot, but it is winter hardy farther north than the macrophylla (mophead). A tremendous advantage of the Oakleaf is that it can thrive in much dryer locations than its cousins. Mopheads struggle in my sandy soil, but the Oakleaf hydrangeas thrive with very little attention.

Oakleaf hydrangeas can be purchased in two forms: the single blossom types and the, so called, double-blossom type.

Oakleaf Single & Double Flower Petals

Oakleaf Hydrangea Foliage

The Oakleaf gets its name from the shape of its beautiful large leaves. These leaves often turn colors of brilliant red, orange, yellow and burgundy in the fall if planted in a sunny location with a little afternoon shade. The Oakleaf hydrangea can tolerate and even thrive in much sunnier areas than the mophead and lacecaps (macrophylla).


Here is another beautiful image of the fall color of oakleaf hydrangeas from a fellow plant addict Nancy Jorgensen.


Pruning Oakleaf Hydrangeas

Pruning oakleaf hydrangeas should be done using pruning method 1. The plants bloom on "old wood" or the branches grown the previous year. This means that if you prune at the wrong time of the year you could trim off next year's flower buds. The best time to prune oakleaf hydrangeas is in July or early August. For more information on pruning method 1, read our hydrangea pruning guide below.