I’ve been a fan of oak leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) for a long time. The large oak shaped leaves and white flowering panicles are two of its best traits but in the fall its color changes are very nice too. The leaves change through a range of colors from the year round greens to the autumn golds and reds. Our oak leaf hydrangeas are fairly young plants. One was purchased as a full sized plant in a pot and the other was a discount plant in a small plastic wrapped container filled with sawdust. I figured it wouldn’t make it for a number of reasons: it was small, had almost no root system, and of course it was a discount plant. To my pleasure and surprise I was wrong. The little oak leaf hydrangea is thriving in our side border garden in almost full sun.
Oak leaf hydrangeas are native plants to the United States and are easily adaptable to many soils here in Tennessee. I’ve been told that if you go easy on the mulch they reseed readily but unfortunately I have yet to see any baby hydrangeas running around…frankly if they were running around I would be worried, but they can form colonies with their stolons.
How to Propagate Oak Leaf Hydrangea
Oak leaf hydrangea can be tricky to propagate but I do know of a secret to tell you, but first let me tell you what I do to propagate these great native shrubs.
My successful cuttings have come from stem tip cuttings that have 3-4 nodes spaced relatively close together. This basically means that I took cuttings that were between 3-5 inches long. I treated the cuttings with rooting hormone and placed them in sand as my potting medium then waited about 8 weeks before I checked them. I didn’t cover them but covering the cuttings with a plastic bag may keep them more moist. The hydrangea had quite a few roots and after the 8 weeks I was able to pot it up.
I promised I would tell you the secret I’ve discovered to rooting oak leaf hydrangeas and here it is: small leaves. Remove all the leaves of the stem tip cutting from the plant before sticking it in your medium except for one small immature leaf at the tip. Don’t even be tempted to leave two leaves or one large one, just a small immature leaf. It works great!
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