A dwarf hydrangea is a mounded cultivar of the oak leaf hydrangea. The cultivar matures to 3 feet in height, whereas the deciduous shrub, a native of moist woods, matures to 8 feet.
At maturity, the dwarf hydrangea is approximately 4 feet wide. The branches have deep-lobed, oak-like dark green leaves that are typically 5 inches long. Long conical white flowers bloom in late spring and fade to light pink during summer. The flowers are showy, but they are mostly sterile. The leaves turn bronze and maroon during fall. The stems reveal an attractive inner bark in winter.
The dwarf hydrangea needs less water then other hydrangeas. It flourishes by the sea, but it needs shade in hotter climates. The best planting location for the shrub is one that receives morning and late afternoon sun with shade in between. The plant needs well-drained, moist soil.
Other small hydrangea shrubs with panicle flowers include the Little Lime and Little Quick Fire varieties, which both grow up to 5 feet high and wide. The Little Lime has chartreuse blooms that turn white and pink. Sometimes, all three colors appear at once. The Little Quick Fire shrub has white panicles that mature to rosy red.