Hydrangea quercifolia or Oakleaf Hydrangea is a small deciduous shrub reaching about 6′ tall about the same if not more in spread.  Growing in full sun to full shade this North America native shrub is a consistent bloomer and easy to care for.  15403729_10154810520266506_8481840236998264752_o

What I find appealing to about this plant is the lack of any maintenance that is needed through the growing season.  Some hydrangeas need timely pruning or the addition of special fertilizers to keep their blooms blue, white, or whatever color they have been hybridized to show.  Oakleaf are forgiving and do not need anything special.  However, newly installed plants should have some hardware cloth put around the base to keep voles from doing any damage.

One of the standout features of this plant besides the flowers and the oak shape leaves is the bark.  The bark is exfoliating leaving behind an attractive cinnamon/orange new growth.  Bark is often overlooked when choosing shrubs or trees as an ornamental feature.  Young twigs are also attractive with their fuzzy orange/brown appearance.

I do need to caution you, this plant is visited by the Japanese beetles and can have some serious defoliation if the insect pressure is high.  Aphids and spider mites are two other potential pests that can be managed with strong streams of water.

So if you are in the market for a new shrub this might be something to put on your short list.

Scott Evans
Scott Evans is a horticulture assistant with Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties. A certified arborist through International Society of Arboirculture and Nebraska Arborist Association. Scott is also Tree Risk Assessment Qualified through ISA. Scott co-leads the Master Gardener program in Douglas & Sarpy counties. Along with volunteer management he provides his expertise with disease and insect identification, lawn and landscape weed management, plant health, and I.P.M. practices. He also enjoys growing many houseplants ranging from African violets to cacti and succulents. Scott has two Bachelors of Science, one in Biology (emphasis in Botany, Ecology and Environmental Science) and second in Environmental Geology from Northwest Missouri State University. He earned his Master of Agriculture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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