Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) is a deciduous shrub valued for its attractive foliage, flowers and ease of growth. The plant's leaves reach up to 8 inches in length and have deep lobes similar in appearance to an oak leaf, hence the name. Oakleaf hydrangea blooms during late summer, producing flowers in shades of white and pink. Gardeners often leave the blossoms on the plant after flowering ends for ornamental purposes, as they bronze during fall. Native to North America, oakleaf hydrangea thrives throughout the country with only routine care, and makes an ideal addition to perennial borders and flower gardens.
Select a planting site that receives partial to full shade and consists of well-drained, fertile soil. Apply a 2-inch layer of organic compost over the site and use a garden spade to work it into the soil before planting. Space oakleaf hydrangea plants 6 to 8 feet apart.
Spread a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch over the soil surrounding oakleaf hydrangea plants to provide insulation, improve moisture retention and stunt the growth of weeds. Begin the layer at least 3 inches from the plant's crown to prevent rotting by allowing air circulation.
Water oakleaf hydrangea once a week during spring, summer and fall to prevent the soil from drying out. Decrease the frequency of watering to once every 10 days during winter, when active growth has ceased. Soak the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches at each application.
Feed plants three times per year, in March, May and June, using a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer. Check the manufacturer's directions for proper dosage information. Water lightly immediately after applying to release the nutrients into the soil.
Prune oakleaf hydrangea once a year, as soon as flowering ends, to improve the health and appearance of the plant. Use hedge clippers to remove all damaged, diseased or overgrown branches, but do not remove more than 1/3 of the plant's growth during any single pruning.