Advice for Hyrdangeas?

samnsarahJanuary 10, 2013

I asked this question on the hydrangeas forum but thought I would ask it here too, since it does concern a shrub.
I live in South-central Kansas (zone 6b.) We have harsh summers and harsh winters and experience frequent droughts. I am planning to plant a Hydrangea quercifoia 'Alice' and a Hydrangea quercifoia 'Pee Wee' on the North side of my house. They will get approximately three hours of direct sunlight per day and will be planted in well-drained sandy soil and be exposed to the north wind during the winter months. My local nurseryman said that Oakleaf Hydrangeas die to the ground each year in this area. Is there anyone else out there who grows oakleaf hydrangeas in SC Kansas who can confirm or deny this?

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

My local nurseryman said that Oakleaf Hydrangeas die to the ground each year in this area.

==>>> they do NOT die to the ground in z5 MI in pure sand ... and i doubt you know what a MI winter is like.. lol ... [it was zero for a week with 30 mph winds last week ...]

you better keep quizzing this guy .. lol ... i ALWAYS start by asking questions i know the answer to .. to gauge the knowledge base of someone ...

but alas.. as far as i know.. it a plain old.. plain old.. OLH ... not some foo foo version ... maybe he's right on that part ...

i do not have a latin name on mine.. ????? .. i am not impressed with such.. and i bet i dont even have a pic of it after 10 years .. but with 5 acres.. if it lives.. it stays.. lol .. i think it was a gift .... i am sure i didnt buy it ...


    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 4:13PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

My Oakleaf Hydrangea saw -20F and didn't die to the ground. Didn't bloom that year, but didn't die to the ground. It did bloom following a winter that saw -17F, however. It too, like Ken's, is an unnamed variety.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 5:24PM
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the answer to the question was given in the background info.

if you don't know it, the central plains states, despite having surprisingly mild USDA hardiness ratings, tend to treat plants rather roughly, particularly when that winter wind howls without stop from November until March.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 11:41PM
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Oakleaf hydrangeas are fully hardy to zone 5. They should do fine in your area provided you can supply enough water to get them established and site appropriately. Why a fully hardy deciduous shrub should be troubled by winds in winter is a bit of a mystery to could get some potential cold damage to latent flower buds but there is no way this shrub should "die to the ground" in winter in your zone. If wind damage is a real concern, site the plant where it is offered some wind protection. I live at the beach and winter winds can be ferocious but they have never caused any significant damage to a hardy deciduous shrub.

FWIW, Hydrangea quercifolia is my favorite of any hydrangea species - bold foliage, gorgeous flowers, usually great fall color (long lasting, too) and the best winter appearance of any non-evergreen hydrangea. They are also the most drought tolerant hydrangea species (once established) and rather flexible in their shade requirements. Specific cultivars are available that offer compact or dwarf plants, larger flowerheads, doubled flowers or some additional color interest via foliage/flowers but the straight species or unnamed selections are just as nice.

There are many GW members in the midwest/Great Plains states that grow bigleaf hydrangeas quite successfully and these are much more winter cold sensitive than oakleafs. I doubt you should have many concerns.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 4:39PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Um, are people willing to come here and explain this to the oakleaf hydrangeas? There have been several threads about this in the New England forum, with the conclusion that they really aren't zone 5 shrubs, but more zone 6.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 6:18PM
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Water won't be an issue since the oakleaf hydrangea I plant will be 4 feet from the water faucet. However, I am going to place it in between two hostas. Hostas require quite a bit of water. Do you think the amount of water the hostas need would be too much for an oakleaf hydrangea and may lead to root rot?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 8:50PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Home of the cold dry wind in zone 5a. They do well here they just don't flower every year. I see quite a few large specimens in protected commercial sites as well.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 9:58PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I am zone 6 now, but several years back when we still got plenty cold winters, I was establishing shrubs. I found that oak leaf hydrangeas do not make it through the winter if they are fall planted. And even spring planted ones may die the first winter if it's really cold. But once they make it through the first winter, they're tough.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:12AM
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I planted an oakleaf over 35 years ago at our church. It has an eastern exposure, planted too close to the church now, but when it was tiny( a cutting really off a friends plant), it looked far enough away. It is now a speciman plant, and people drive by in the fall to see it. It has gorgeous foliage, blooms a lot, in fact I don't remember when it didn't bloom. The soil there is slightly sandy, and has good drainage. It gets fertilizer when I remember it, usually stakes I can pound into the ground. Ross fertilizer stakes I think. We have a sprinkling system now but for years it was at the mercy of the weather or whoever decided to water. Everyone says its in God's garden, thats why it grows so well. I would say its about 5' by 5'.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 11:04AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Count me among those for whom oakleaf hydrangeas struggle. They don't die - they just don't flower well and die-back can be extensive. I've had better flowering from a macrophylla than from the oakleaf one! I find the dwarf one flowers better for me than the taller one. It suffers less die-back - being lower to the ground clearly provides more shelter. I grow the taller one more for the leaves, considering flowers a bonus when/if they appear. I prefer to grow the paniculata types which are 'new wood' bloomers so you can prune them hard in spring to shape them and they will reliably bloom every year. 'White Moth' is my favorite. It has huge flowers and a very long bloom season.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 12:28PM
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