Oakleaf hydrangea ‘Snow Queen’
* Common name: Oakleaf hydrangea ‘Snow Queen’
* Botanical name: Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snow Queen’
* What it is: Mid-size flowering shrub with large, oak-like leaves and large, white cone-shaped flower clusters from mid-June through July. Leaves turn deep, rich burgundy for weeks in fall, and winter bark is cinnamon-colored and peeling like a miniature birch tree.
* Size: About 6 feet tall and wide. Can go bigger but best maintained at about that size.
* Where to use: Part shade or dappled sunlight is ideal, although it will tolerate full sun if kept watered in droughts. ‘Snow Queen’ is most at home along a wood’s edge, shady border or massed among trees. Attractive enough for specimen use along foundations or at house corners.
* Care: Protect young plants with wire cylinders to prevent rabbit nibbling of the tender wood. Plant in rich, well drained soil and mulch with 2-3 inches of bark mulch and you’ll probably never need to fertilize. If necessary to prune for size control, do so right after the plant finishes blooming in mid-summer. Always cut back to a branch joint. Bug or disease problems rare.
* Great partner: Surround with Russian cypress (Microbiota decussata), a soft, light-green and low-growing evergreen. For a flowering partner, try a purple-blooming hardy geranium, such as ‘Rozanne’ or ‘Johnson’s Blue.’