Plant Profile: Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

By C StClair

3 year old plant in author’s garden

‘Ruby Slippers’ is a compact form of our North American native Oakleaf Hydrangea. It matures to only 3-4′ tall and to 3-5’ wide making it much easier to place in the garden than the large species.

‘Ruby Slippers’ has large, upright panicles of flowers in spring that start out lime green, turn to white and then to ruby red during the summer. They eventually age to brown and can provide interest over the winter. The plant also has beautiful red to burgundy to deep mahogany fall color on its large course leaves. As the plant ages, the older stems start exfoliating their bark, providing more winter interest.

‘Ruby Slippers’ is truly a plant with 4 seasons of interest.

Fall color

Oak Leaf hydrangea is easily grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils. While it does need decent drainage, it appreciates some moisture and cool roots so mulching is beneficial. Oakleaf hydrangeas are somewhat shallow rooted so be sure to provide adequate moisture while the plant is getting established.

‘Ruby Slippers’ grows best in part shade but can tolerate more sun with adequate moisture. They will grow in deeper shade but may not flower as well.

Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on the previous year’s growth, so prune them right after they bloom (not in the spring) to avoid removing flower buds. Pruning needs are usually minimal.

Deer browsing can be a problem and usually they will only eat the branch tips. So the plant will survive, but all your flower buds end up in a deer’s stomach. To save your flower buds you can slip tulle bags or fruit protection bags over the branch ends.

Consider finding a spot for this little gem in your yard. You will not be sorry.

Want a little more info?

Missouri Botanical Garden Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

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