Sike's Dwarf Oakleaf HydrangeaHydrangea quercifolia Sike's Dwarf
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Hydrangea quercifolia Sike's Dwarf
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
Sike’s Dwarf Hydrangea is a unique form of the oak-leaf hydrangea, growing around 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. This deciduous shrub has large leaves divided into lobes like an oak leaf, and cones of white flowers in summer that turn pink when fall comes. The leaves turn attractive dark shades of bronze, purple and red in fall, and often remain on the bush well into the winter. Adaptable to many light levels, this plant is more resistant to heat and drought than other hydrangeas, and grows well in the southeast. A native plant, use it in wild gardens as well as more structured ones.
Sike’s Dwarf Hydrangea thrives in warmer zones, and enjoys heat and humidity. It tolerates more sun than many other hydrangeas, but at the same time grows well in light full shade. All well-drained soils are suitable, with the best growth in richer soils that are usually moist. It rarely has pests or diseases, and is best left unpruned, apart from removing any dead branches in spring. Winter damage in very cold zones may kill flower buds in some years.
Hydrangeas are a large group of shrubs, divided into three main groups – mophead, panicle and oak-leaf. Each has a role in the garden, often depending on your climate zone, but for warm to hot parts of the country it is often best to turn to our native oak-leaf hydrangea for inspiration, because it is so tolerant of heat and humidity, and thrives in the southeast. Its handsome leaves and white blooms are a highlight of summer, but it can be a large shrub – too large for many gardens. That’s where Sike’s Dwarf Hydrangea comes into the picture. A small shrub, wider than tall, it’s perfect where you want summer interest but don’t have a lot of space. It’s great in the front of large beds too, and super-easy to grow well. Whether it’s in the neatest garden, or out in a wild area, this great little shrub is a winner, and one you will wonder how you ever lived without. Because it is native to North America, it is perfect where you want to grow wild plants, and it’s a great way to brighten woods and add variety, without using alien plants.
Sike’s Dwarf Hydrangea is a variety of the oakleaf hydrangea, but much smaller than most, growing 2 or 3 feet tall, and possibly to 4 feet when in bloom. It is slightly broader than tall, spreading into a low, mounding shrub about 4 feet across. The strong, wiry stems are brown, becoming attractive reddish-brown with peeling bark when they are older. The leaves are very different from other hydrangeas. They are dark green, broad, up to 5 inches long, and divided into several lobes, resembling a giant oak leaf. They have a matte, slightly roughened surface, and turn shades of bronze, maroon-red and dark-purple in late fall. In very warm zones they may remain green and on the bush for most of the winter.
In late spring or early summer flowers appear on side branches sprouting from older stems. These are large and white, formed into rounded to conical clusters about 4 inches long and wide, containing numerous larger white flowers mixed with much smaller, greenish, seed-forming flowers. The flowers stay attractive for many weeks, taking on pink tints as the seasons pass, before becoming greenish. They dead flower heads are an interesting winter feature.
Most oakleaf hydrangeas grow to about 8 feet tall and wide, so Sike’s Dwarf Hydrangea is perfect when you need a more compact shrub. It is attractive in shrub beds, and looks great along the front of a large bed. Plant it among evergreens for its blooms and for foliage variety. Grow it in structured gardens or in wild-ones – even native gardens – it looks great everywhere. In warm zones it could even be grown as a container plant, in a large shrub, ideal for shady terraces.
Sike’s Dwarf Hydrangea grows best in warmer zones, including the southeast, but it also grows in cooler areas throughout zone 5. In harsh winters in cold zones the flower buds may be destroyed if temperatures fall below minus 10, so it may not flower every year – the leaves are so beautiful they are reason enough to grow it anyway.
Sike’s Dwarf Hydrangea is very adaptable to a wide range of light conditions. It tolerates more direct sun than other hydrangeas, even in hot areas, while also growing in partial shade and even in light full shade. It also tolerates drier soil than the mophead hydrangea, and thrives in almost any well-drained soil. Although tolerant of drier earth once it is established, it does grow best in damper soils, with a regular supply of moisture.
Spring mulch is helpful both to conserve moisture and to provide nutrients, although you can also use a regular flowering shrub fertilizer in spring. Pests and diseases don’t normally cause problems. You can remove any dead or weak branches in spring, but pruning is rarely needed and should be avoided, as it may reduce blooming.
The Oak-leaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia, is a plant that grows wild in North America, from Georgia south into Florida and west into Louisiana. It is the State Wildflower of Alabama, and although it only grows wild in the south, it has proven to be hardy in gardens much further north. The variety called Sike’s Dwarf was discovered in the later decades of the last century, by Sarah Sikes. She owns Windmill Gardens in Luverne, Alabama, and is mostly known as a prolific breeder of daylilies. In this case she branched out into shrubs, and gave us a great dwarf version of her state wildflower to enjoy.
The oak-leaf hydrangea is the least-known of all the hydrangeas, but it deserves to be much more widely grown. Sike’s Dwarf Hydrangea gives you the chance to do that, even if your garden is small, so go for it. You will love the leaves and foliage effect, and adore the beautiful white blooms too. Order now, as attractive and versatile shrubs like this one won’t be around for long at all.