Shade Plants for Dallas: Oakleaf Hydrangea
By Maria Bargellini, of Dallas Curb Appeal
Believe it or not the Oakleaf Hydrangea is actually native to the United States, most Hydrangeas are native to china.
We here in Dallas use the Oakleaf hydrangea in our shady gardens to add interest to our gardens all year long. It’s gorgeous blooms add a dramatic yet fragile look to any landscape. It blooms best in bright shade, or when planted in gardens with north facing, morning sun. What’s bright shade you ask? Well there are varying types of shade; dry, moist, bright and deep or dark shade. Hydrangeas look their best in bright shade. That’s dappled or indirect sun. Afternoon sun will scorch this plant and eventually kill it.
When incorporating them into your Dallas landscape, make sure to plant them toward the back of your beds as they do tend to be tall, ranging from 4-8 feet. In addition, the weight of the large cone shaped followers will weigh woody stems down to give this shrub an arching shape, which will require some room, at least 4′, unless you like the look of the arching stems over your smaller plants in front of the Hydrangea.
Hydrangeas also have a higher water requirement unlike our native Texas plants. So if your thinking about adding this plant to your garden, make sure you are adding it to a bed with plants with like water requirements. Otherwise somethings gotta give. You will either over water your existing plants or underwater your Oakleaf Hydrangea. And just because they like extra water doesn’t mean you can drown them either. They do not like to have their feet sitting in water as you might find in moist or deep shade, where sprinkler water does not have as much an opportunity to dry out of flower beds. This water tends to collect at the base of plants and will rot out their roots. The term most commonly used here in Texas to describe this is “wet feet”. FYI Hollies and Azaleas also don’t like wet feet.
Although they are not evergreen, they do have some winter interest and are winter hardy here in Texas. When they do lose their leaves in the fall or winter they expose an interesting exfoliating bark much like our Crape Myrtles, where the outer layers appear to be peeling off of the stems. When the white blooms start to fade they will sometimes fade to a pink color. When cut, at any color, Hydrangeas make for great follower displays for your home, whether they are freshly cut or dried out..