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Oakleaf hydrangea

  • Trees and Shrubs
Hydrangea quercifolia
Photo: Robert Mineau
 Hydrangea quercifolia



Origin and description

This small shrub (1.5 m x 1.5 m) with a rounded growth habit produces large leaves shaped similarly to oak leaves. Dull green in summer, in the fall they turn red, purple and orange. Flower heads form in pyramidal panicles consisting of tiny fertile flowers and large white sterile florets which often turn purple.

Species, cultivars and related plants

‘Snow Flake,’ ‘Snow Queen,’ ‘Little Honey,’ ‘Snow Giant,’ ‘Pee Wee,’ ‘Sike’s Dwarf’.


All parts of the plant are poisonous.

Common name

Oakleaf hydrangea

Latin name (genus)

Hydrangea quercifolia

English common name

French common name

Botanical family

  • Hydrangeaceae

Growing conditions

Lighting conditions

Sun or partial shade.


Rich, cool and well drained.

Hardiness and protection

Barely hardy in our climate, choose a site sheltered from winter winds, where snow accumulates, but does not melt too quickly in the spring (east or north side of the foundation). Although the roots will survive in Zone 5, stems and flower buds are susceptible to frost (Zone 6), especially during a cold winter without snow. If there is a frost, new shoots will spring from the roots but they will not flower. In the fall, the stems must be protected under a thick layer of shredded-leaf mulch (30 cm). In spring, the mulch should remain in place until the end of the spring frosts. Small cultivars (‘Sike’s Dwarf’) are most likely to flower because they winter under the snow.

Pruning and maintenance

The flowers bloom on old wood, so prune lightly. Pruning too heavily (coppicing) will prevent flowering in that year. In the fall, just cut the stems that have flowered back to a pair of healthy buds and cover with mulch. In spring, prune to remove any stem sections damaged by the cold.


  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6

See also

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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