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Old oakleaf hydrangea leaves not falling

Posted by linelle 9 (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 10, 14 at 19:49

This is my first post here. I'm usually over at the Kitchens forum.

My small front yard was completely re-landscaped in early 2011. I have a oakleaf hydrangea in a sheltered spot that gets shade most of the day but sun later in the day, which it seems to tolerate just fine.

In 2011 it produced many beautiful blooms. :)

In 2012 I pruned it incorrectly, removing the old wood. The foliage was lush, but no blooms. :(

In 2013 I tried to prune with more restraint. Again lush foliage but no blooms. But September two lone (but lovely) blooms appeared), filling me with hope and joy. A landscaper friend said basically don't cut the plant back at all.

So, here it is 2014. All the old wood remains and lots of buds are forming. Can't wait to see what happens.

My question is, so many of last year's leaves remain. The coldest temps are mostly over. We've been in a drought but received a lot of rain this past week. Do I leave the leaves? Will they fall off eventually?

BTW, when I check my zip code for my hardiness zone, I get anything from 8 to 9b. It really doesn't get much colder than the upper 20s here (Santa Rosa, CA), and only one or two days a year.

oakleaf leaves

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Old oakleaf hydrangea leaves not falling

Some of my oak-leaf hydrangeas still have some leaves on them and I am in the Atlanta area. We've had a very cold winter this year compared to the last 20 or so (low temp wise).

Some leaves may remain on the plant until the new leaves start emerging. I can't speak for your area but I wouldn't rush winter. It would be terrible for leaf break and then another cold snap gets those tender leaves.

RE: Old oakleaf hydrangea leaves not falling

I have had winters in which the leaves remained but eventually they dried out and self destructed.

Try not to fertilize it too much. Once in Spring should do for the whole year since these plants do not eat like roses do. You can add minor fertilizers like coffee grounds, liquid seaweed or liquid fish but stop in July to help force dormancy in the Fall. Oakleafs go dormant later than the other mopheads for me in Z8.This year I noticed them still green thru most of December but now they either have no leaves or have browned out leaves.

And you can prune safely after the blooms open, up until near the end of June. A friend of mine who wanted the blooms pruned one several years ago in mid July and I lost bloomage the following year. Flowers can be deaheaded at any time you want; just be careful if it is July or later.


This post was edited by luis_pr on Tue, Feb 11, 14 at 13:49

RE: Old oakleaf hydrangea leaves not falling

Thanks for the replies.

luis, as per the recommendation of my landscaper, the only feeding its getting is the dressing of arbor mulch breaking down. I'm getting a ton of foliage with very large leaves.

I'm not sure why I would prune after the blooms open. To have cut flowers? How far back would I prune? So basically any time between blooming and the end of June I could prune for shape and size?

RE: Old oakleaf hydrangea leaves not falling

Prune when you have a reason for doing it. Otherwise, hydrangeas do not need to be pruned. For example, prune if some stems are growing out of sync with the rest; prune stems that cross or to bring more sunlight into deep shaded areas of the shrub; prune if the stem may cause safety concerns, etc.

The 'safe' time when you can prune (IF you want to prune) hydrangeas that bloom on old wood is after they have bloomed (so you can enjoy the blooms) thru the time when they begin to develop new flower buds (which is around the months of July-August). In northern states, flower buds begin to develop around August-ish while in the southern states, it is in July-ish.

So yes, if you prune any time between blooming and the end of June, you will not be cutting off next year's flower buds.

RE: Old oakleaf hydrangea leaves not falling

Oakleaf hydrangeas are known for retaining foliage well into winter and the milder the climate/the higher the zone, the longer they hold on to them. In my area, oakleafs hold their old foliage ALL winter and only drop them as the new growth emerges in spring. As I grow several dwarf cultivars in containers, I tend to remove the leaves manually (too impatient!) on these but allow the inground selections to drop theirs naturally.

RE: Old oakleaf hydrangea leaves not falling

luis, that's pretty much what my yard gal told me. So that's what I'm gonna try this year. It was really exciting to get those two late blooms last fall. I know there's hope!!!

gardengal48, I need to be patient. The leaves are still beautiful and it fills the corner in.

Thanks everyone for your help!

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