Hydrangea quercifolia is a species of hydrangea desirable for its large, showy leaves and clusters of white flowers. The leaves of this hydrangea, which turn purple, wine or burgundy-colored in the fall, are shaped like oak tree leaves, giving rise to the shrub's common name of "oakleaf hydrangea." Native to the United States, it is a hardy shrub that does not require specialized care. In fact, once established, the shrub requires no attention at all, according to the University of Florida.
Hydrangea quercifolia are temperate-zone plants. These shrubs grow best in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 5B through 9, according to the University of Florida. They will not thrive in areas with very cold winters or very hot summers.
Oakleaf hydrangeas have large, sensitive leaves that can get scorched if exposed to prolonged direct sunlight, especially at noon. These plants do best in locations where they have morning sunlight followed by afternoon shade. Hydrangea quercifolia can even grow in full shade, according to the University of Connecticut, especially in the warmer growing zones.
Soil and Water
These hydrangeas, like all hydrangeas, prefer moist, slightly acidic soil, according to Ohio State University. The soil should be rich in nutrients and well-draining, as standing water can lead to root rot, especially in young plants. Oakleaf hydrangeas are slow growing and can benefit from organic compost worked into the soil around the plant, or a layer of organic mulch (3 to 4 inches), which will not only add nutrients to the soil, but help keep it cool and moist as well.
Fertilize your Hydrangea quercifolia in the spring with an acidic fertilizer formulated for flowering shrubs. Apply according to the directions on the label according to the size and age of your plant. Feed again in the summer if you notice the leaves on the plant turning yellow, which indicates a lack of nutrients in the soil.
Hydrangea quercifolia is highly popular for its large clusters of showy, white flowers, but home gardeners also love the hardy nature of this plant. Oakleaf hydrangeas do not suffer from any serious insect pest or disease problems, according to Ohio State University. Large plants may need protection from strong winds, as the long, slender branches can sometimes break in windstorms, especially if they are heavy with blossoms.