|Monday Melange: Oakleaf Hydrangea|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Monday, 27 September 2010|
The leaves of oakleaf hydrangea (;Hydrangea quercifolia;), one of four hydrangeas native to the US, turn beautiful shades of bronze, purple, and dark red in autumn and the flowers are perfect for dried flower arrangements.
Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) is one of four hydrangeas native to the US. A deciduous shrub, the distribution of oakleaf hydrangea ranges across the southeastern US from South Carolina and Tennessee south to Florida and over to Louisiana. Hardy between USDA zones 5 and 9, it is a member of the Hydrangea family (Hydrangeaceae), and can be grown as far north as Pennsylvania. The leaves resemble oak leaves, hence the name.
Oakleaf hydrangea blooms between May and July. The flower clusters are similar to the French hydrangea in that there are both fertile and sterile flowers, but differ in color and shape of the flower clusters. The flowers of oakleaf hydrangea are white in color and change to a purplish-pink and are elongated rather than round as with the non-native hydrangeas. Several cultivars are available including 'Little Honey' and 'Snow Queen', the most popular cultivar of oakleaf hydrangea. The flowers are showy but not fragrant and are excellent for dried flower arrangements.
Oakleaf hydrangea is known for its spectacular fall color as well, with leaves that turn various shades of bronze, dark red, and purple. It is a low maintenance shrub that prefers full sun to part shade and well-drained soils. It has a rounded habit, growing to a height of 4 to 6 feet by 6 to 8 feet wide. Oakleaf hydrangea will naturalize, but is not considered invasive. Use it as a specimen or in a woodland edge setting or in an informal hedge.