Dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangeas

cammonroApril 1, 2008

Hi everybody,

I'm new to GardenWeb. I would be interested in any experiences with either the Sike's Dwarf or Pee Wee oakleaf hydrangeas (quercifolia). How have you fared? Do they really do well in the sun? How often do they bloom? Do they really stay compact? I've read on the web about some that break the dwarf barrier to like 6'.

I'm thinking of planting some around the front porch of our house, one on the southwest side beneath a flowering dogwood (Cornus Florida) and the other on the northwest side. Both locations get at least 6 hours of late sun in the summer.

I've been considering them because I am looking for a white flowering shrub (deciduous) that blooms through the summer and stays more or less within a height and spread of 3-4'. This seemed like the perfect fit! However, I don't want just a foliage plant since there are already green shrubs nearby (boxwoods, Alberta spruce, holly). I have had excellent experience with an Endless Summer hydrangea in the nearby vicinity that I planted in Fall 06 and it was positively stunning all summer last year.

Thanks for your thoughts!


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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

When researching one to buy several years ago, I thought that Pee Wee Q. was classified as compact (that probably means 3x3). But in the southern states (like Texas through GA/SC/FL), that shrub may exceed that.

Choose a spot with no standing water as quercifolias cannot handle water in the root zone as well as macrophyllas can. On the other hand, quercifolias handle drought better than macrophyllas (within "hydrangea limits", of course).

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 7:03PM
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I have several H.q.'Sikes Dwarf' or 'Sykes Dwarf' that I purchased from a reputable propagation nursery a few years ago. Unless I check the label on each plant, am unable to distinguish them from some other cultivars of Oakleaf's, as they are about the same height, 5-6 ft.
As luis mentioned, growing season, soil, light, etc. may effect the ultimate height and size of the "Dwarfs".
Have had no experience with H.q.'PeeWee" and have never observed them growing in my area.
In this area, Oakleaf's perform best when planted in full sun or several(6+) hours of afternoon sun exposure. Soil drainage is very important. I have heavy clay, which retains moisture, so I try to plant them on a slope or a mound of soil and mulch is only provided during extended periods of drought.
They also appreciate an annual application of Dolomitic Lime if the soil is very acidic. They do best in Circumneutral (pH7.0) to slightly alkaline soil.
In the absence of rainfall, water weekly for the first couple of years, until the roots become established, after that, they are fairly drought tolerant. My old, established plants needed watering only twice during a severe drought last year and that included one period of 7 consecutive weeks in early summer, when not a drop of rain fell.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 12:36AM
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On a border of z5/6 oakleaf will experience the same bud-killing problem as most of the macrophillas, so if you are looking for flowers be prepared to do some extra work of winter protecting them.
PeeWee is definitely smaller than Sykes Dwarf and you could reasonably expect it to stay in 4x4' range.
As mentioned above, perfect drainage is a key in growing any H.quersifolia.
In your zone Spring planting is prefered vs Fall planting.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 10:52AM
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Luis and razorback- thanks for your feedback!

Sounds like this might work out well then. They will get full afternoon sun and will be near downspouts with really good drainage sheltered by our porch staircase. From there the property slopes down so standing water will never be an issue. Since we're in the north I can't imagine they'll get as big then so that probably is not an issue. Plus I can always prune right?

My main thing is I would like them to blossom. I just started with hydrangeas almost 2 years ago and it was with Endless Summer so I'm probably a little spoiled. The blooms are amazing but they bloom on old and new wood. From what I hear winter can sometimes damage buds on the old wood which causes other hydrangea to not bloom as well (if at all). I just planted two other non-ES hydrangea (a variegated lacecap and a preziosa) last summer so I am anxious to see how well they perform this summer. (We had a pretty mild winter I felt also).

On another note you mentioned about hydrangeas in standing water. Are there any that will tolerate standing water? I have a somewhat boggy area on our property which is why I ask.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 10:58AM
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Hi ego! It looks like we posted at about the same time. It looks like you're also in CT. Do you recommend any wintering practices? I looked at one web page I found on the topic and some of the methods looked a little unsightly for a front yard.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:03AM
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Search this forum for overwintering-winter protecting hydrangeas topic and you'll find wealth of information.
Yes, it will look unsightly and eventhough I'm a hydrangea's nut with about 70-80 of them growing in my garden I have none of them in my front foundation beds.
Note: I'm on a border of z6/7, DO NOT winter protect them at all and once in a 4-5 years have a non-blooming year which I use for shaping-pruning.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:20AM
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By the way, I just discovered that the hardiness zones have changed. Melting ice caps aside, it looks like we are now in zone 6a according the the US National Arboretum.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:23AM
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Thanks ego. Great tips.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:29AM
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Hello - I was looking for a thread on smaller H.q. and found this more recent one. I just acquired a SQ H q for a shaded foundation bed, but found out from another thread that the rate of growth is amazing and won't work for the 4ft'-front to back, space I had prep'd. The nursery I frequent, has several pots of Dwarf H q but the tag does not specify which Dwarf.

I'm sure they weren't Little Honey. Are there any other dwarfs besides Pee Wee & Sikes? The difference between these two was clarified in the earlier thread I read.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 11:57PM
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I planted a H.q. next to my bird bath which has a dripping system so the soil is quite moist all summer. Even in the winter it gets watered every day when I overfill the bird bath. I didn't realize the caution about wet roots and I must admit the shrub has grown and flowered fantastically. I suppose I can credit dumb luck.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 11:01AM
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