Majestic oakleaf hydrangea is one of the easiest types to grow. It's also one of the showiest thanks to its big clusters of white summertime flowers, attractive peeling bark, and textured foliage that turns brilliant shades of purple-red in fall. Oakleaf hydrangea can be a big shrub (it grows 8 feet tall) that's great for providing summertime privacy or as a backdrop in the shade garden. Like smooth hydrangea, it's native to areas of North America.
Give oakleaf hydrangea a spot in shade or partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. It stands up to dry soil a bit better than most other types, but still appreciates moisture during drought. Like any other hydrangea, it will perform best if there's a lot of organic matter in the soil. Oakleaf hydrangea is hardy in Zones 5-9.
Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on last year's branches, so the best time to prune them is right after the flowers fade in late summer. Because the bark is interesting as it matures, many gardeners do not prune their oakleaf types.
Hydrangea quercifolia 'Alice' offers extra-large blooms and more spectacular fallcolor. It grows 10 feet tall.
Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey' shows golden-yellow foliage and clusters of white summertime flowers. It grows 4 feet tall.
Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake' bears clusters of double white flowers. It grows 8 feet tall.
Hydrangea quercifolia 'Vaughn's Lillie' displays spectacularly dense clusters of white flowers. It grows 4 feet tall.
It used to be that the beautiful blue- and pink-blooming hydrangeas would bloom once a year, usually in June. But plant breeders have been hard at work, and their efforts are paying off in a new type of hydrangea: rebloomers. Series such as Endless Summer and Let's Dance offer big, colorful blooms every few weeks in summer and fall. Many of these varieties offer beautiful fall color.
Reblooming hydrangeas do best in a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Like other hydrangeas, they prefer moist, well-drained soil that has a lot of organic matter in it. The plants aren't very drought tolerant, so you'll probably need to water them during dry spells.
Here's a hint: The level of acidity in the soil affects the flower color of blue and pink varieties. The more acidic the soil is, the bluer the flowers will be; the less acidic, the pinker the flowers will be. Add soil sulfur or aluminum sulfate for bluer flowers and add dolomitic lime for pinker flowers. Both of these products are available from your local garden center -- read the packaging directions to determine how much of the product to use in your garden.
Rebloomers produce blossoms on both last year's branches and this year's stems, so you can prune them at any time without significantly affecting their flowering cycle. Many gardeners find the plants grow and bloom best if they only cut off parts of branches that died over winter.
Encourage your hydrangea to produce more blossoms by cutting off the flower heads as they start to fade.
Hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer bears mophead clusters of pink or blue flowers. It grows 5 feet tall. Zones 4-9
Hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer Blushing Bride bears white flowers flushed with light pink. It grows 5 feet tall. Zones 5-9
Hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer Twist-n-Shout bears blue or pink lacecap-type flowers. It grows 5 feet tall. Zones 4-9
Hydrangea macrophylla Let's Dance Moonlight bears rich blue or pink mophead-type flowers. It grows 5 feet tall. Zones 5-9
Hydrangea macrophylla Let's Dance Starlight bears rich blue or pink lacecap-type flowers. It grows 5 feet tall. Zones 5-9
Hydrangea macrophylla Mini Penny bears blue or pink mophead-type flowers. It grows 4 feet tall. Zones 5-9
Hydrangea macrophylla Penny Mac bears blue or pink mophead-type flowers. It grows 6 feet tall. Zones 5-9
Continued on page 3: Mophead Hydrangeas