Oak-leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) are wonderful landscape plants. Their large, lobed leaves add textural interest to the garden in summer and change to gorgeous shades of burgundy and purple in the fall. The 8 to14-inch, conical flower panicles open white, gradually shading to pink and, in spite of their size, have a graceful delicacy. This shrub even adds to the garden in winter, with older stems sheathed in attractive, reddish-brown, peeling bark. But most of the available cultivars make fairly large plants, often 5 to 6 feet tall and wide or more.
Now space-challenged gardeners who haven't had room for this landscape gem are in luck. As part of its shrub breeding program, the U.S. National Arboretum has just released a new, dwarf oak-leaf hydrangea named, appropriately enough, 'Munchkin'. Hardy in Zones 5-8, 'Munchkin' forms a dense, compact plant that matures to about 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. In early summer it produces abundant, 6 1/2 inch long, white flowers that turn a lovely, medium pink as they age. Like its larger cousins, its leaves turn a stunning mahogany-red in fall. Its restrained size makes it ideally suited for use in small residential landscapes, as a foundation plant or a low hedge, or in a shrub border.
For more information on the 'Munchkin' hydrangea, go to: Munchkin hydrangea .
Article published on March 26, 2010.