Oak Leaf Hydrangea is the official Alabama State Wildflower. They're grown in all sections of Alabama, and when it starts to bloom in May and June, it's hard to miss.
The botanical name is Hydrangea Quercifolia, which means Oak foliage, due to its resemblance to an Oak Tree leaf. All Oak Leaf Hydrangeas bloom with creamy white flowers in late May to June, but the flowers don't last all summer. As the flowers mature, their petals go through shades of pink or maroon before drying to brown on the plant.
These Hydrangea prefer a location in shade or part sun, but if sun cannot be avoided, morning sun is acceptable. Oak Leaf can be durable shrubs that can reach from four feet up to ten feet tall. They cannot tolerate 'wet feet' or heavy poorly drained soil, though, so when planting, be sure to dig your hole shallow and wide with organic amendment blended with the native soil.
In order to bloom, Oak Leaf needs some of last year's stems. If you need to prune your plant, wait until after the blooms begin to fade, but don't wait until winter.
There are different varieties of Oak Leaf Hydrangia that have unique flowers, like ruby slippers or the cone-shaped double flower of snowflake. So regardless of which variety you like, keep an eye out for them around Alabama, and maybe think about having your own.
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