Many plants capture our imagination and make us want to plant large displays throughout our gardens.  Sometimes these treasured plants look amazing but don’t fare well over time.

This plant, the invincible Oakleaf Hydrangea is another story! Oakleaf Hydrangeas have a totally different look to them than the traditional mophead or lacecap hydrangeas.  Large multi-lobed leaves that resemble large oak leaves give this hydrangea its name.  The interesting shape & texture of the leaves as well as their size provides a striking display in the shade landscape.

In mid-Spring, cream colored blooms emerge in large, long panicles at the tips of the long branches. The blooms can be as much as a foot long!  Depending on the variety, the blooms will turn to a slight blush, a tea color, or even a more chartreuse hue as the season progresses and will remain throughout the fall and winter if not pruned off.

The attributes of the Oakleaf hydrangea do not end here – in the fall, the leaves turn red and purple and remain until as late as December.  The exfoliating bark of the plant then takes center place in the winter landscape.

And the care is easy!  These plants prefer part-sun but do very well in shady areas, and can take more sun than the traditional hydrangeas.  The Oakleaf hydrangea also can withstand drought conditions once established.  If needed, as with traditional hydrangeas, prune just after blooming by the end of July.  If you wait any longer, any pruning will remove next years’ blooms, as these plants bloom on last years’ wood. Water as needed and fertilize with a good slow release balanced fertilizer.