This oakleaf hydrangea growing by my back porch was a Mother's Day gift from my daughters two years ago. It was growing in a gallon pot when I received it. It has flourished where I planted it and this year it has really outdone itself with it blooms. (I know it's a bit difficult to appreciate with the bright, bright sunshine in the background, but bright, bright sunshine is all we have these days.)
The oakleaf hydrangea is a plant that is native to the southeastern quadrant of the United States from North Carolina west to the Mississippi River and south to Louisiana and Florida. It is described as a coarse-textured deciduous shrub, although mine actually keeps most of its leaves through winter. It can get quite large; some plants over 20 feet tall have been recorded. It thrives in dry conditions and prefers some shade.
The leaves themselves are quite attractive. They are lobed like oak leaves - thus, its name - and they range from yellowish-green to dark green (like mine) on top and silvery white underneath. In the fall, the leaves turn a dark bronzy red color.
The plant begins flowering on these foot long panicles in April and the blooms are very long lasting. The blooms start at the bottom of the panicle and take weeks to get all the way to the top. A large plant in full bloom is a sight to behold.
But the blooms are not done. As they age and dry out, they turn a pinkish color which is still attractive and they persist throughout summer, fall, and even into winter if the gardener doesn't deadhead or take them for indoor flower arrangements.
This native plant is quite a versatile and ornamental addition to the garden. It is one of my favorite plants in my garden because of its beauty and because it was a thoughtful gift from my two wonderful daughters.