Easily grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Thrives in moist soils, and appreciates a summer mulch which helps retain soil moisture. Bloom occurs on old wood. Prune if needed immediately after flowering (little pruning is usually needed). Winter damaged stems may be pruned in early spring. Plants should be given a sheltered location and winter protection (e.g., mulch, burlap wrap) in USDA Zone 5, particularly when not fully established. Plants can lose significant numbers of flower buds or die to the ground in harsh winters (temperatures below -10 degrees F), thus respectively impairing or totally destroying the bloom for the coming year.
Hydrangea quercifolia, commonly called oak leaf hydrangea, is an upright, broad-rounded, suckering, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub that typically grows 4-6' (less frequently to 8') tall. It is native to bluffs, moist woods, ravines and stream banks from Georgia to Florida to Louisiana. It is noted for producing pyramidal panicles of white flowers in summer on exfoliating branches clad with large, 3-7 lobed, oak-like, dark green leaves.
Genus name comes from hydor meaning water and aggeion meaning vessel in reference to the cup-like capsular fruit.
Specific epithet is in reference to the leaves that look like those of Quercus (oak).
‘Sike's Dwarf’ is a dwarf mounded cultivar that matures to only 2-3' tall and to 3-4' wide. It differs from the species by growing much smaller with smaller leaves and smaller flower panicles, and by having a more moderate growth habit with less frequent suckering from the roots. Elongated, conical flower panicles (to 3-4" long) of showy, mostly sterile, white flowers begin bloom in late spring. Flowers emerge white, gradually fade to light pink and then turn brown by late summer with good persistence of the brown seed panicles into winter. Distinctive, deeply-lobed, somewhat coarse, deep green, oak-like leaves (to 5” long) turn attractive shades of bronze, maroon and purple in autumn. Mature stems exfoliate to reveal a rich brown inner bark which is attractive in winter.
No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to leaf blight and powdery mildew. Aphids and spider mites are occasional visitors.
Good specimen or accent for foundations or other locations near homes or patios. Group or mass in shrub borders or in open woodland areas. Good informal hedge. Interesting dwarf selection for small gardens. Exfoliating mature branches provide interesting color and texture in winter. May be grown in large containers.