ShadyGardens Blog

June 6, 2010

Alabama State Wildflower: Oakleaf Hydrangea

Filed under: Alabama, Hydrangea, native, Oakleaf, quercifolia, shrub, state, wildflower — shadygardens @ 1:50 pm
Hydrangea quercifolia, Oakleaf Hydrangea
I am glad to learn that my favorite native shrub, the Oakleaf Hydrangea, is the State Wildflower of Alabama. Since I was raised in Alabama and we now live in Georgia very close to the Alabama state line, I am naturally drawn to plants native to Alabama.
The Oakleaf Hydrangea is very easy to grow, tolerating a wide variety of conditions. This deciduous shrub is native to the southeastern United States.
Hydrangea quercifolia gets its common name of Oakleaf Hydrangea from the large leaves shaped like those of our mighty oak tree. Deciduous foliage turns red in autumn and later falls from the plant but can hang on for quite a while when grown in shade during a mild winter. Once foliage falls from the plant, cinnamon colored exfoliating bark adds to its beauty.

Large blooms appearing in panicles in May and June last all season. Blooms begin white in color but change gradually to a rosey pink or purple and finally age to a soft brown persisting into the winter. Blooms are also quite long lasting as a cut flower.
The Oakleaf Hydrangea will grow large and can reach a size of about 8 feet tall and just as wide. 
This deciduous shrub is not picky about soil, even tolerating heavy clay, but grows best in well-drained soil with moderate moisture. The Oakleaf Hydrangea is very drought tolerant once established and was the only hydrangea that bloomed in our garden during the severe drought of 2008 and 2009.
Hydrangea quercifolia can be found growing wild in all areas of Alabama, making it the ideal choice for the official wildflower of the state of Alabama.

June 25, 2009

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf Hydrangea is my favorite hydrangea, because it’s beautiful in every season! In winter, the branches exhibit lovely cinnamon colored exfoliating bark, and the large flower buds already forming are attractive. In spring, the new leaves are a reddish purple. In summer, there are the very large panicles of white blooms that turn purplish by summer’s end, hanging on into fall. In fall, the leaves turn a rich mahogany red, contrasting beautifully with the then dried rosy brown flower stalks used by many in floral arrangements. Oakleaf hydrangea is one of our most beautiful American native shrubs, and should be in every garden, especially native plant gardens! Hydrangea quercifolia is much easier to grow than other hydrangeas. The fact that it is native to the southeastern United States is probably the reason for that. It’s accustomed to our summer droughts, making it more drought-tolerant than other hydrangeas. It isn’t picky about soil. And oakleaf hydrangea can take more sun than most other hydrangeas.

October 31, 2008

Fall Color in the Garden with Native Plants

Filed under: fall foliage, Hydrangea, Oakleaf, quercifolia — shadygardens @ 3:21 pm

Fall is a wonderful time of the year for a gardener. Cool, crisp temperatures make outdoor work actually enjoyable. As I drove through the country this week, I couldn’t help but love all the changing foliage colors along the roadside. Natural landscapes just come alive when temperatures drop.

What can we do to bring some of that color to our home garden? Many gardeners rush out to the garden center to purchase popular choices, but many of the available plants are so invasive that they should not be planted at all! We all should do a little research prior to purchasing new plants for the garden.

Native plants are superior to exotics in many ways, but the most important asset is that native plants will not overpopulate themselves to take over and choke out other plants. We should all choose native plants whenever possible.

I know I say it all the time, but my favorite of all plants is our native Oakleaf Hydrangea. Just as spectular in fall as in other seasons, Hydrangea quercifolia’s large oak-shaped leaves change to a brilliant burgundy wine when autumn’s cooler temperatures arrive.

Another native shrub guaranteed to attract attention is Virginia Sweetspire. Itea virginica is a native American plant that is available in several forms–all display vibrant foliage colors of wine, burgundy, or red in fall. Spring blooms are fragrant and loved by pollinators, but the foliage is usually the main reason this shrub is planted–it is simply breathtaking! (Moist soil is a requirement for this plant to thrive.)

June 6, 2008

Oakleaf Hydrangea – My Favorite Native Plant at Callaway Gardens!

Filed under: drought tolerant, Hydrangea, native, native plants, Oakleaf, quercifolia, shrub — shadygardens @ 2:46 am

Oakleaf Hydrangea is my favorite hydrangea, because it’s beautiful in every season! In winter, the branches exhibit lovely cinnamon colored exfoliating bark, and the large flower buds already forming are attractive. In spring, the new leaves are a reddish purple. In summer, there are the very large panicles of white blooms that turn purplish by summer’s end, hanging on into fall. In fall, the leaves turn a rich mahogany red, contrasting beautifully with the then dried rosy brown flower stalks used by many in floral arrangements. Oakleaf hydrangea is one of our most beautiful American native shrubs, and should be in every garden, especially native plant gardens! Hydrangea quercifolia is much easier to grow than other hydrangeas. The fact that it is native to the southeastern United States is probably the reason for that. It’s accustomed to our summer droughts, making it more drought-tolerant than other hydrangeas. It isn’t picky about soil. And oakleaf hydrangea can take more sun than most other hydrangeas. And I believe it really is true that you learn something every day, because, although you might already know this, I didn’t realize until this year as I passed our largest shrub that the Oakleaf Hydrangea is fragrant!

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