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Hydrangea quercifolia Plant of Merit

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Kemper Code:  D380

Common Name: oakleaf hydrangea
Zone: 5 to 9
Plant Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Hydrangeaceae
Missouri Native: No
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Height: 6 to 8 feet
Spread: 6 to 8 feet
Bloom Time: May - July   Bloom Data
Bloom Color: White changing to purplish pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture:

Best grown in fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Mulch root zone in summer and provide somewhat constant moisture. Winter protection (e.g., burlap wrap) is advisable in USDA Zone 5, particularly when the plant is not fully established. Little pruning is needed, but should be done any time after flowering.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

Oakleaf hydrangea is an upright, stoloniferous, deciduous shrub with a broad, rounded habit that typically grows 4-6' tall but frequently reaches 6-8'. Features elongated, conical clusters (4-12" long) of fertile and sterile, white flowers which slowly turn pinkish purple with age. Long late spring to summer bloom period. Distinctive, deeply lobed, somewhat coarse, oak-like, deep green leaves (to 8" long) turn attractive shades of bronze, crimson or purple in autumn. Mature stems exfoliate to reveal a rich brown inner bark which is attractive in winter.


No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to leaf blight. Heavy flower panicles may droop considerably, particularly when moistened by rain.


Mass or group in a mixed shrub border or naturalize in a native plant or open woodland garden. Also may be used for backgrounds, accents or specimens, foundation plantings or hedges.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011

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