How to Plant a 5-Gallon Oakleaf Hydrangea


Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) are coarse textured shrubs with large oak-like leaves. Long panicles of white flowers bloom in early to midsummer. The flowers age to muted pink or dark red, and then to tan. Oakleaf hydrangeas grow 6 to 10 feet tall, and 3 to 5 feet wide. They are hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9, but might die back during the winter in colder zones. Plant oakleaf hydrangeas in sun to partial shade. They do better in hotter climates with some shade. They grow in acidic to slightly alkaline soil that is kept evenly moist. They do not like "wet feet," but are moderately tolerant of drought.

Step 1

Buy an oakleaf hydrangea in a 5-gallon pot from a trustworthy nursery or garden center. Select a plant that has a uniform shape with no crossed or bent limbs. Choose a healthy plant with no signs of disease such as dead or dying leaves, powdery mildew or slimy areas. Remove the plant from the pot and check for healthy white roots that are not compacted or growing in a circle.

Step 2

Set the plant in a shaded area and water thoroughly with a water hose.

Step 3

Decide where you want to locate the plant. Use a hoe and rake to remove the grass and weeds from a 3-feet by 3-feet square area, or a circular area 3 feet in diameter.

Step 4

Use a shovel to dig a hole about 6 inches deeper and wider than the pot in the middle of the prepared area. Use your hands or the hoe to break up any clods in the soil from the hole. Remove rocks, roots and other debris from the soil.

Step 5

Replace a 6-inch layer of soil in the planting hole. Remove the plant from the pot and set the plant in the hole. The level of the soil around the plant should be level with the ground. If it is not, take the plant out of the hole and add more soil to the bottom of the hole until it is level.

Step 6

Push soil into the hole around the root ball of the plant with your hand or foot. Tamp the soil firmly around the root ball. Do not mound the soil up around the stems of the plant. Spread excess soil evenly around the plant.

Step 7

Put a layer of mulch 3 to 4 inches deep in the cleared area around the plant. Do not mound the mulch up around the stems. Water thoroughly with a water hose.

Step 8

Water the plant thoroughly two or three times a week until the plant becomes established, then water once a week. Older plants may not need weekly watering. If the leaves of the plant begin to droop, it needs more water.

Things You'll Need

  • Water hose
  • Rake
  • Hoe
  • Shovel
  • Mulch


  • University of Florida Extension: Oakleaf Hydrangea

Who Can Help

  • Virginia Tech: Oakleaf Hydrangea
  • Auburn University: Plant Identification Resource
Keywords: plant oakleaf hydrangea, oakleaf hydrangea, plant Hydrangea quercifolia, Hydrangea quercifolia

About this Author

Melody Lee worked as a newspaper reporter, copywriter and editor for 5 years. In addition, she has edited magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design and is a Florida master gardener. She has more than 25 years of gardening experience, which includes working at nurseries and greenhouses.