Hydrangea quercifolia

Common Name
Oakleaf Hydrangea

Hydrangeaceae (Hydrangea Family)

Tree or plant type / form
Deciduous Shrub

Landscape Use
Effective as a specimen or accent plant for building foundations or near structures. Group or mass in shrub borders or in open woodland areas. Good informal hedge.

Season of interest and/or other ornamental feature(s)
Noted for producing pyramidal panicles of white flowers from late spring to early summer atop bold, oak-like, dark green leaves that lend a course, shaggy element to the garden.  Fall foliage color can be a mix of orange, purple, and burgundy.  Older branches exfoliate to reveal cinnamon-colored bark beneath that adds subtle winter interest.

Size at Landscape Maturity
Medium shrub reaching 6 to 8 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide in 10 to 15 years. Selected cultivars are generally more compact in size, maturing at 4 to 6 feet tall.

Light exposure
Full sun to part shade; adaptable to shadier positions but flowering will be diminished.

USDA Hardiness zones
5 – 9

Origin / Native locale
Southeastern US

Wildlife Value (incl. pollinators)
Attracts butterflies, other insect pollinators, and songbirds

Soil Type & Drainage
Does well in a variety of soil conditions.  Prefers rich, moist soils with good drainage but can handle occasional dry spells.

Adaptable to drought and dry soil; has exhibited more deer resistance than other hydrangeas.

Leaf Description
Green, leathery oppositely arranged leaves with 3 to 7 prominent lobes, resembling oak leaves.  The leaves are fuzzy when young and grow to 3 to 8 inches long and 2 to 6 inches wide.  Showy fall color in shades of orange to deep red.

Bloom Time in Northeast Ohio
Mid to late June; aging florets provide extended interest.

Flower Description
The 4 to 12-inch-long panicles are a mix of small white fertile florets and showier white sterile florets.  After flowering, the sterile florets fade to pinkish or tan and persist into late fall or winter, adding months of ornamental appeal.

Cone / Fruit
Displays inconspicuous brown fruit capsules in fall that persist into winter.

Available at
Secrest Arboretum Plant Discovery Days and selected local nurseries.

Additional information  
Several improved or refined cultivars of Hydrangea quercifolia are available in the nursey trade.  ‘Snow Queen’ is a longtime standard while ‘Ruby Slippers’ and ‘Munchkin’ are newer varieties introduced by the US National Arboretum.  ‘Snowflake’ is a “double” flowered selection that produces unique sterile florets with more sepals than typical.

Use the Secrest Aboretum Explorer to find locations where this plant is located on the Wooster campus.

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