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Alabama State Wildflower: Oakleaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea quercifolia, Oakleaf Hydrangea
I am glad to learn that my favorite native shrub, the Oakleaf Hydrangea, is the State Wildflower of Alabama. Since I was raised in Alabama and we now live in Georgia very close to the Alabama state line, I am naturally drawn to plants native to Alabama.

The Oakleaf Hydrangea is very easy to grow, tolerating a wide variety of conditions. This deciduous shrub is native to the southeastern United States.

Hydrangea quercifolia gets its common name of Oakleaf Hydrangea from the large leaves shaped like those of our mighty oak tree. Deciduous foliage turns red in autumn and later falls from the plant but can hang on for quite a while when grown in shade during a mild winter. Once foliage falls from the plant, cinnamon colored exfoliating bark adds to its beauty.

Large blooms appearing in panicles in May and June last all season. Blooms begin white in color but change gradually to a rosey pink or purple and finally age to a soft brown persisting into the winter. Blooms are also quite long lasting as a cut flower.

The Oakleaf Hydrangea will grow large and can reach a size of about 8 feet tall and just as wide. 

This deciduous shrub is not picky about soil, even tolerating heavy clay, but grows best in well-drained soil with moderate moisture. The Oakleaf Hydrangea is very drought tolerant once established and was the only hydrangea that bloomed in our garden during the severe drought of 2008 and 2009.

Hydrangea quercifolia can be found growing wild in all areas of Alabama, making it the ideal choice for the official wildflower of the state of Alabama.