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How to Plant Oakleaf Hydrangea

Wondering how to plant oakleaf hydrangea? Discover the best tips for soil preparation, planting techniques, and care to ensure your oakleaf hydrangeas thrive.

How to Plant Oakleaf Hydrangeas

Hello and welcome to Hydrangea Love!

It is our honor and specialty to focus exclusively on hydrangeas and complementary plants here, and today’s article is no different.

Today, we’re talking oakleaf hydrangeas!

(Click here to read about the main types of hydrangeas and their differences.)

Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) are beloved for their stunning, cone-shaped flower clusters and distinctive oak-shaped leaves.

Native to the southeastern United States, these versatile shrubs are known for their multi-season interest and relatively low maintenance requirements.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to successfully plant and grow oakleaf hydrangeas in your garden.

But first, let’s dive a little deeper into what these beautiful plants are.

What are oakleaf hydrangeas?

Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) are deciduous shrubs known for their distinctive oak-shaped leaves and beautiful cone-shaped flower clusters.

In the summer, oakleaf hydrangeas produce large, showy flower clusters that start off white and gradually turn pink or even red as they age.

The foliage provides a stunning display in the fall, changing from green to rich shades of red, orange, and purple.

Oakleaf hydrangea care

In addition to their ornamental appeal, oakleaf hydrangeas are relatively easy to grow and maintain.

They thrive in well-drained soil and partial to full shade, making them versatile additions to a variety of garden settings.

These shrubs can grow up to 6-8 feet tall and wide, creating an impressive focal point in the landscape.

Oakleaf hydrangeas are also drought-tolerant once established, making them a resilient choice for gardeners looking to add both beauty and durability to their outdoor spaces.

How to Plant Oakleaf Hydrangea

How to Plant Oakleaf Hydrangea

In this section, we’ll discuss everything from choosing the right location for your oakleaf hydrangeas, to preparing the planting site, planting, and continued care.

Choosing the Right Location


Oakleaf hydrangeas thrive in partial shade but can tolerate full sun in cooler climates.

Ideally, they should receive morning sunlight and afternoon shade. Too much direct sunlight in hotter regions can lead to leaf scorch.


These shrubs prefer well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

Although they can adapt to various soil types, enriching the soil with organic matter such as compost can promote healthier growth and more vibrant blooms.


Oakleaf hydrangeas can grow up to 6-8 feet tall and wide, so make sure to plant them in a location where they have plenty of space to spread.

Adequate spacing also ensures good air circulation, which helps prevent diseases.

Preparing the Planting Site

  1. Test the Soil: Conduct a soil test to determine the pH and nutrient levels. Amend the soil as needed to achieve the optimal conditions for oakleaf hydrangeas.
  2. Clear the Area: Remove any weeds, rocks, or debris from the planting site to reduce competition for nutrients and water.
  3. Dig the Hole: Dig a hole that is twice as wide and just as deep as the root ball of the hydrangea. This allows the roots to spread easily and establish more quickly.

Planting the Oakleaf Hydrangea

  1. Prepare the Root Ball: If the root ball is tightly packed, gently loosen the roots with your hands or a small garden fork. This encourages the roots to grow outward into the surrounding soil.
  2. Place the Plant: Position the oakleaf hydrangea in the center of the hole, making sure the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil. Planting too deeply can cause root rot.
  3. Backfill the Hole: Fill the hole with the soil you removed, gently tamping it down to eliminate air pockets. Water the plant thoroughly to help settle the soil around the roots.
  4. Mulch: Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant, keeping it a few inches away from the stem. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Caring for Your Oakleaf Hydrangea


During the first growing season, water your oakleaf hydrangea regularly to establish a strong root system.

Once established, these plants are relatively drought-tolerant but will benefit from regular watering during dry periods. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.


Oakleaf hydrangeas do not require heavy fertilization. In early spring, apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to support healthy growth and abundant blooms.

Avoid excessive fertilization, as this can lead to lush foliage at the expense of flowers.


Pruning oakleaf hydrangeas is generally not necessary, but light pruning can help maintain their shape and encourage more vigorous blooming.

Prune immediately after flowering, as these plants bloom on old wood. Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased branches to promote healthy growth.

Winter Care

In colder climates, oakleaf hydrangeas may benefit from winter protection.

Apply a thick layer of mulch around the base of the plant to insulate the roots. Additionally, consider covering the plant with burlap to shield it from harsh winter winds and freezing temperatures.

Common Pests and Diseases

Oakleaf hydrangeas are relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but they can occasionally be affected by:

  • Aphids: Small, sap-sucking insects that can cause distorted growth. Use insecticidal soap or a strong stream of water to remove them.
  • Powdery Mildew: A fungal disease that appears as a white powdery coating on leaves. Ensure good air circulation and avoid overhead watering to prevent it.
  • Leaf Spot: Fungal spots on leaves that can be managed by removing affected leaves and applying fungicide if necessary.


Planting and caring for oakleaf hydrangeas can be a rewarding experience, adding beauty and interest to your garden throughout the year.

While learning how to plant oakleaf hydrangea may have a small learning curve, the result is worth it!

By choosing the right location, preparing the soil, and providing proper care, you can enjoy the stunning blooms and vibrant foliage of these versatile shrubs for many years to come.

Best of luck,

Your Fellow Hydrangea Lover

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