With a garden full of blooms that change from white to pink to ruby-red, even Dorothy would agree–there is no place like home.

 
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Trying to choose your favorite garden flower is about as difficult as choosing your favorite confection in a box of chocolates. We love them all, right? We fill our yards with flowers to attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies, and we make sure we have a good selection of cutting flowers for fresh bouquets to adorn our home. Above everything else, however, Southern gardeners love the heirloom plants - the azaleas, camellias, irises, and shasta daisies, to name just a few - that have been passed down from family and friends and fill our yards with color and sentiment. Add to the top of that list the hydrangea, known for its beautiful blooms and ability to withstand the summer’s heat and humidity. While there are many varieties of hydrangeas to choose from, the oakleaf hydrangea is always a popular pick; their cone-shaped blooms grow naturally in the woods of the Deep South and, during the fall, their leaves turn rich shades of red, orange, and maroon. The oakleaf can have quite a reach, growing out to 6 ft. wide, so if you need a smaller variety of hydrangea with just as much impact, consider the ‘Ruby Slippers,’ a compact selection of the native oakleaf hydrangea.

With a mature size of about 3-4 feet tall and wide, this plant is a good choice for hedges, borders, cutting gardens, or even container gardens. 'Ruby Slippers’ boast a multitude of stocky flowers that show up as white or pale pink and then mature to striking deep rose. The large, oak-shaped, deep green leaves put on a show in the fall, turning pink, scarlet, and burgundy.

‘Ruby Slippers’, like most oakleaf hydrangeas, require good drainage. Provide adequate moisture while the plant is getting established and use mulch to keep the shallow roots cool. Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on last year’s growth, so prune them minimally after they bloom instead of in the springtime, when you would be removing flower buds.

If one healthy hydrangea plant produces beautiful blooms and foliage, imagine what a grouping would do for the aesthetic of your property. Bump up the wow factor and plant several ‘Ruby Slippers’ for an incredible display all year round.