Pee Wee Oakleaf HydrangeaHydrangea quercifolia 'Pee Wee'
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Hydrangea quercifolia 'Pee Wee'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Pee Wee Hydrangea is an attractive compact shrub, a selected form of our native oak-leaf hydrangea. It grows just 3 or 4 feet tall, and it has it all – attractive cones of white flowers for months in summer, turning pink in fall; unique lobed leaves that turn vibrant fall tones of reds and purples; and interesting shedding rich brown winter bark. As well it grows in hotter and drier places than other hydrangeas, and looks great in all gardens, from structured formal ones to wild gardens of native plants.
The Pee Wee Hydrangea grows well in partial shade, but it is more tolerant of sun than other hydrangeas. It also grows better in drier soils, although still enjoying rich, moist, well-drained soils the best. It normally has no pests or diseases and it is even ignored by deer. No special care is needed, just remove the spent flowers in fall and any weak branches in spring. Do not trim new growth or blooms will be lost.
The oak-leaf hydrangea is not well-known to many gardeners, but it should be. This lovely shrub has unique and attractive foliage, and the white flower heads brighten summer and fall, along with striking fall leaves, something missing with almost all other hydrangeas. It’s an native plant too, at a time when lots of people want to see more of our own plants in our gardens. Trouble is, the natural bush can grow a bit big for many gardens, and if it is happy it can even spread by underground stems, so what we need is a more compact and ‘garden trained’ version of this great bush. Well, with that thought we bring you the Pee Wee Hydrangea. This shrub is exactly the compact version of the oak-leaf hydrangea we need – all the good bits and none of the bad ones – let’s give a big welcome to the peewee league.
While the oak-leaf hydrangea usually grows 6 or even 8 feet tall, the Pee Wee Hydrangea is a compact shrub reaching just 3 or 4 feet in height, and about 3 feet in width. It is deciduous, and in winter the peeling bark, revealing inner bark of rich brown, makes it attractive at that season too. The leaves are quite unlike hydrangeas you might be familiar with. They are about 5 inches long, with a tough, slightly leathery feel, and a dull green surface when mature. Young leaves are covered in an attractive bale beige fuzz, which lasts on the underside of the leaves after maturity. They have a very different shape too, looking a bit like an oak-leaf, with 5 to 7 lobes. The foliage is dense and bushy, covering the plant right to the ground. In fall the leaves turn wonderful shades of bronzy gold, deep burgundy and purples, lasting well into winter. In the warmest zones this plant can be semi-evergreen, not losing all its leaves until the new ones have opened fully.
By the middle of June your bush will be in flower, with a blossom head developing at the end of each branch. This plant blooms abundantly and reliably, making a great show. The conical flower heads are 6 to 8 inches long and about 4 inches wide, packed with many flowers of two kinds. Inside the cone the flowers are small, greenish-white and without petals. Outside the cone is covered with showy white blooms, each about 1½ inches across, making a graceful and lovely display in your garden. The blooms last for weeks and weeks, gradually turning pink by late summer and into the fall. Unlike mophead hydrangeas, these flowers stand up well, without flopping and without collapsing in heavy rain. No staking needed. Although the blooms are similar, don’t confuse this plant with the old Pee Gee Hydrangea.
Perfect in all kinds of gardens, the Pee Wee Hydrangea is lovely around your home, out in beds, or in semi-natural parts of your property. It’s long bloom time makes it great in a small garden, where it is hard to grow a wide range of plants. A selection of a native plant, it is ideal for native gardens and wild gardens. Grow in with early-flowering shrubs in beds, or as a low screen or edging along a pathway. It could also be grown in warmer zones in a tub or planter box.
The Pee Wee Hydrangea is well-adapted to a wide range of climates, growing perfectly in zone 5 and also in heat and humidity into zone 5, as well as in the cooler northwest.
This hydrangea is much more resistant to sun and drier soils than other hydrangeas, so it’s great if you don’t have a lot of shade. In cooler zones it will grow out in full sun, but some afternoon shade is useful in hot areas. It will also grow well in partial shade and even light full shade, such as beneath deciduous trees. The ideal soil is moist, well-drained and rich, but poorer and drier soils are better tolerated than they are by other hydrangeas.
The Pee Wee Hydrangea is normally ignored by common pests and diseases. Unlike other hydrangeas it is not usually eaten by deer, which is great news if you have local deer and want to grow hydrangeas. It needs virtually no pruning. Just remove dead flower heads back to the first buds on the stem, and remove any weak or dying branches in spring. Don’t trim the new growth as this will prevent flowering. Some people report skin reactions from handling the leaves, so you might want to wear gloves.
You will find the oak-leaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia, growing near streams and in damp woodlands everywhere from Georgia into Florida and across into Louisiana. People of Alabama love it so much it is their State Wildflower. Over time a number of different forms have been developed, but we don’t know where the one called ‘Pee Wee’ came from – just that it is a great plant.
It takes careful growing from stem pieces, not seeds, to preserve special forms of shrubs, like the Pee Wee Hydrangea. Our nurseries make sure they have the right plant so you won’t be disappointed. With more and more people living in smaller gardens plants like this always sell out quickly, so don’t hesitate, order right away.