Oak leaf hydrangeas epitomize old-time charm in any garden. The deciduous shrubby plants are native to the United States, and tolerate a wide variety of growing conditions. The botanical name for oak leaf hydrangea is hydrangea quercifolia and it derives from the oak-like foliage of the plant. The lush, deeply serrated leaves cover the bush from early spring until fall, when they turn brilliant shades of red and gold before falling. Depending on the cultivar you choose, your hydrangea will grow between tree and six feet in height. Plants grown in shade tend to be lanky while those in sunnier locations have denser growth that is more compact. Through the warmer months, creamy white, pink or rose-colored flower panicles cover the plant.
The most important thing to do when you plant oak leaf hydrangeas is to select a good location for your plant. Plan your garden planting so that your hydrangea has ample room to grow. Pruning hydrangeas is not necessary -- it hurts its naturally graceful shape and hurts flower production. Like all hydrangeas, oak leaf hydrangea needs ample and reliable water. Choose a location that does not dry out constantly and that receives some afternoon shade in hot summer areas. Ordinary garden soil works well for oak leaf hydrangeas, but amend heavy clay soil with mulch to ensure adequate drainage. Oak leaf hydrangeas are more tolerant of sun and drier conditions than other varieties, but they succumb quickly if they stay continually soggy. Dig a hole as deep as and twice as wide as the plant's root ball. Place the plant securely at the bottom center of the hole and backfill with a mixture of garden soil and mulch, or ordinary soil. Cover the areas surrounding the plant with shredded bark mulch to help conserve moisture. Keep your newly planted hydrangeas constantly moist but not wet for at least the first few months.