By Bonnie Manion
One way to make gardening easier is to plant low-maintenance shrubs with year-round interest. One of my favorite shrubs is oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’). It does best in USDA Zones 5–9.
I have seen oakleaf hydrangea planted en masse along the Blue Eucalyptus Walk at the famous Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California. Noted Southern California landscape designer Nancy Goslee Powers conceived the entire landscape design in 1999. It simply takes your breath away. If you have the room, plant this hydrangea en masse for a striking backdrop to your garden. You won’t be disappointed.
This shrub begins blooming in spring and continues through summer with huge showy, spikey white blooms made up of tiny florets. Foliage is another plus, with large distinctive, oak-tree-shape leaves. In fall these leaves turn a magnificent burnished crimson. Oakleaf hydrangea is a deciduous shrub, dropping its leaves in winter.
This shrub not only has a commanding appearance, it also is commanding in size, reaching 6–8 ft tall and wide. Give it lots of space and part sun exposure. I have mine on the north side of my garden.
Oakleaf hydrangea likes regular watering, with surrounding moist surface soil. Feed it with an acid fertilizer before spring growth, and prune to shape it after flowering. You can’t go wrong having this showy shrub for beauty and low maintenance in your Southern California garden.
Be sure to watch my video highlighting my blooming oakleaf hydrangea.
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