This is the Best Hydrangea Variety for the South
The South loves a mophead. Between the cloud-like blooms and its beautiful, dark green leaves, picture-perfect hydrangea bushes are a calling card of summer. But even the most green-thumbed of us can be left wondering why our hydrangeas didn’t bloom and—though we hate to admit it—why our Northern neighbors’ hydrangeas are so much more hearty. Luckily, Mother Nature has an answer to our dilemma: the Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia).
If you want big, lush hydrangea bushes in your yard then listen up. Here are a few reasons why they’re the best hydrangea variety for the South.
They’re Native to the South
You might find their cone-shaped blooms growing naturally in the woods of the Deep South. In fact, they’re so naturally prevalent in this part of the country that oakleaf hydrangeas were named the state wildflower of Alabama.
They’re a Plant for All Seasons
Their beautiful, cone shaped blooms in late spring and early summer are just the beginning of the oakleaf hydrangea’s beauty. During the fall, their leaves turn rich shades of red, orange, and maroon. Even during the cold days of winter they have something to show off—a cinnamon-colored peeling bark that adds warmth to gardens across the region.
They Can Tolerate Drought
Once established, oakleaf hydrangeas can tolerate drought, but try to occasionally give them an extra drink during long dry periods. A layer of peat moss will help it retain moisture and keep the soil acidic, which they prefer. Pine straw or leaves are also good cover options.
Grumpy's Best Tips for Rooting Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas are one of our favorite Southern plants. Colorful, long blooming, easy to prune, and suitable to root in a wide range of plant zones, hydrangeas are ideal to use throughout your garden in beds, privacy hedges, and even in large containers on your porch. One of our favorite aspects of the hydrangea is that home gardeners have the ability to adjust the vibrant color of their plants by simply adjusting the acidity of the soil. They’re also suitable for trimming and drying, as well. The Grumpy Gardener loves planting hydrangeas, but he doesn't like having to buy new plants to populate his garden. Here, Grumpy Gardener Steve Bender shows us that hydrangeas are surprisingly easy to divide and enjoy throughout your garden. Learn how to multiply your beautiful, Southern hydrangeas with this simple rooting technique from the Grumpy Gardener.
In this easy gardening tutorial, Grumpy Gardener shows you how to turn one hydrangea into five separate plants. First, he suggests choosing a low, bendable branch and placing it above a full pot of planting soil; make sure that you position your pot of soil underneath a node (the point at which the leaves attach to the stem), remove the leaves at this node, and plant the node firmly in the soil below. He also suggests placing a rock on top of the node in this spot in order to keep the node in place. Leave it there for about two months, keeping it watered regularly. Check on it, and if you have roots, you have yourself a new plant! Carefully separate it from the original plant with pruning sheers. Learn how to multiply your hydrangeas with this simple rooting technique—without spending a lot of money during the process.
For more information on this southern favorite, check out our SL Hydrangea Guide.
There are Plenty of Varieties to Choose From
A few of our favorite varieties include ‘Alice’ (large flower clusters, grows 12 feet tall and wide), ‘Harmony’ (huge, heavy clusters up to 12 inches long, grows 10 feet tall), and ‘Snowflake’ (blooms up to 15 inches long, grows 10 feet tall and wide). Snowflake is an all-time favorite discovered by Alabama nurseryman Eddie Aldridge. As the blooms age, new white florets emerge atop older ones that have turned dusty rose, creating a double-flowered, bicolored effect.
They Play Well With Others
Their handsome, deeply lobed leaves and elongated clusters of white flowers pair well with almost any landscape. Oakleaf hydrangeas make an ideal companion for iconic Southern plants such as Southern magnolias, camellias, Southern shield fern ground cover, red maples, and sourwoods.