Oakleaf hydrangea, H. quercifolia, is a 6- to 8-foot tall shrub with large sprays of white flowers. Oakleaf hydrangea adds interest to the garden year round. The flowers last all summer, followed by deep-red leaves in the fall and an interesting bark in the winter.
The best time to prune oak leaf hydrangeas is immediately after flowering. The bushes flower on the previous year's wood, so prune away approximately one-third of the old wood each year. Leave the remaining branches for flowering in the spring.
Remove flowers as they fade, along with approximately half the stem. Remove damaged, diseased or dead branches as soon as possible. To err on the side of caution, just prune a little each winter, suggests North Carolina State University.
Older, neglected shrubs may need severe pruning. If flower production is not desired, cut each stem back to the last bud. To rejuvenate an oakleaf hydrangea without disturbing flowers, remove the oldest wood in January or February of each year.
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