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Spotlight: Oak Leaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea quercifolia is one of our all-time favourites!

We love this beautiful hydrangea with lush curvy leaves, a similar shape to the oak (quercus), hence the name ‘oakleaf’ (quercifolia), and long graceful conical flower heads. November is it’s time to shine, in full glorious flower now. In our Sydney garden the leaves turn bronze colour in late summer and autumn and holds until the new shoots begin in spring. In cool gardens the leaves will fall. This woodland plant loves shade and shelter. Our mature plant has a suckering growth habit, 1.5m tall and 2m wide. This hydrangea, unlike its cousin, H. macrophylla, is drought tolerant once stablished

 

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Alice'

This variety is larger than the species, with the same graceful conical flower heads of white lace-cap form, turning soft pink with age. ‘Alice’ will grow to 2.5 m and needs space to spread to show her graceful form. The leaves turn crimson in cold climate gardens in late autumn and fall.

 

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’

A double-flowered form called 'Snowflake', is a truly exquisite bloom. The flower heads age to a soft green and last for several months. Michael McCoy in his blog ‘The Gardenist’ says “On the double-flowered form, the very aptly named ‘snowflake’, individual flowers are multi-layered and the panicles can grow enormous – I mean seriously, implausibly, huge”. He goes on to discuss whether to prune or not to prune … “The choice of pruning regime also dictates this plant’s sociability. If hard-pruned, you can cover the ground beneath it with smaller spring bulbs, or early woodland perennials like violets or primroses, which will flower when the hydrangea is nothing but stumps, and then quietly recede into dormancy as the hydrangea clothes itself in those unsurpassable leaves. Left unpruned, Hydrangea quercifolia can hold on to some of its foliage, and will leaf up much earlier in spring, narrowing (but not entirely eliminating) the window of opportunity for something else to be flowering in the space it’ll eventually, and beautifully, consume.”

 

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee’

'Pee Wee' is compact (1m x 1m), upright, deciduous with smaller leaves and smaller flower panicles, and has a more restrained habit with less frequent suckering.  

 

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey’

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey’ is a compact spreading cultivar that grows to 1m tall x 1.5m wide. It is a branch sport of 'Pee Wee'. Showy, deeply-lobed, somewhat coarse, oak-shaped leaves emerge golden yellow in spring, retain good golden colour well into summer, gradually fade to chartreuse and then green by early fall before finishing the year with a blast of crimson red fall colour (only in cool climate gardens).