Hydrangea quercifolia (eastern North America)
Habit: Usually only a small shrub, 1-2 m tall and wide; loosely asymmetrical, slow-growing: 20-35 cm a year.
Flowers: 10-20 cm long panicles, initially greenish white, gradually cream-white; pink-white when withering, end of June to August, soft fragrance; withered panicles persist through winter, very attractive.
Leaves: Large, three to seven-lobed, like oak leaves; late shoots at end of May, grey-green, later pale green; fantastic crimson-red, brilliant red and orange in autumn, falling October.
Roots: Shallow, forms runners, very sensitive to soil compaction.
Demands: Shady to semi-shady, likes warm to cool areas, moderately frost hardy, no flowers after a harsh winter; likes high to extremely high humidity, sensitive to air and soil pollution; always needs wind protection.
Soil: Fresh to moist; moderately acidic to neutral, but tolerates very alkaline substrates, best on humic or sandy-loamy soil, quickly dying in heavy soil.
Our tip: A spectacular, extraordinary plant for trellises that is a delight to look at during flowering and in autumn. Cut for training shortly after flowering. Best on north and east-facing walls.
Native habitat: See Nyssa sylvatica.
Hardiness: Zone 7a