The oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) is native to the southeastern United States, where it grows in the forests. Although it is cold hardy to minus 10 degrees, it loves the heat and doesn't require as much water as other hydrangeas. Oakleaf hydrangea will grow from 4 to 6 feet in height and bloom with either single or double, white cone-shaped flowers from July through September. In the fall the foliage presents with typical fall colors: brown, red and orange. Planting the young hydrangea in a gallon pot is easy and presents an opportunity to give it a good, strong start.
Choose a planting location. Ideally the oakleaf hydrangea should receive morning sun and afternoon shade but will do fine growing in full shade.
Perform a soil pH test. Soil analysis is available at county cooperative extension offices for a nominal fee. The agents are familiar with local soils and micro-climates and can offer suggestions on appropriate soil amendments according to the results of the soil test. Oakleaf hydrangea thrives in a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5.
Dig up the planting area to a depth of 12 inches. As you dig, place the soil in the wheelbarrow.
Add a 3-inch layer of compost and any soil amendments required to the planting area. Gradually add the soil that was removed, mixing it with the compost and other amendments.
Dig a planting hole that is the same depth and twice the width of the pot in which the oakleaf hydrangea is growing. Since you have a one-gallon pot, the hole should be dug 8 inches deep and 12 inches wide.
Remove the oakleaf hydrangea from the pot and place the roots on the bottom of the hole. Cover the roots with soil and pour a bucket of water over them. This will help to settle the soil around the roots and remove air pockets. When the water drains, finish filling the hole with soil.
Water the oakleaf hydrangea until the water puddles. Allow the water to drain and then spread a 2-inch-thick layer of compost around the hydrangea. Keep it 2 inches away from the trunk of the shrub and spread it out 12 inches.