Plant Profile: Hydrangea quercifolia

In cool regions with good soil this is a must have shrub. It’s more ‘natural’ in appearance than it’s ornamental cousin Hydrangea macrophylla and can grow much larger in the right conditions.

The flowers are borne as panicles and are more subtle in appearance than the pom pom clusters of Hydrangea macrophylla. Leave the faded flowers on the shrub, let them weather away and embrace the naturalistic approach to gardening. In Autumn the deciduous leaves colour deep wine red. Evergreen shrubs will act as foil in Winter.

In Sydney, you won’t have much luck growing it on our thin soils and high humidity, though I do sneak it into a garden when I can. We included it in a design on Sydney’s North Shore this week, a garden that does have good soil, slightly higher rainfall and generally milder conditions – it won’t be a triumph, but planted among Liriopes for example, it will be a curiosity offering a few wavy threads of growth each Spring and will contrast nicely with clipped shrubs.