Hydrangea macrophylla 'Blaumeise' BLUE TITMOUSE
Common Name: bigleaf hydrangea
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Hydrangeaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Blue (acid soils)Pink (alkaline soils)
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy

Culture

Best grown in rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade. Tolerates full sun only if grown in consistently moist soils. Soil pH affects the flower color (blue in highly acidic soils and lilac to pink in slightly acidic to alkaline soils). Add aluminum sulfate to the soil to make the flowers bluer or add lime to the soil to make the flowers pinker. Begin soil treatments well in advance of flowering, as in late autumn or early spring. Plants generally need little pruning. If needed, prune immediately after flowering by cutting back flowering stems to a pair of healthy buds. Prune out weak or winter-damaged stems in late winter/early spring. Best to mulch plants year-round with 3" of shredded bark, peat or compost. Winter hardy to USDA Zone 6. For added protection, however, plants grown in USDA Zone 5 should be sited in sheltered locations and given additional winter protection, as needed, for the purposes of minimizing the risk of loss of significant numbers of flower buds or possible die-back to the ground in an extremely harsh winter. A burlap wrap of stems or circle of chicken wire filled with leaves or straw to 8-12" are time-consuming and visually unattractive landscape options, but can be effective. Regardless of protective measures taken, bigleaf hydrangeas simply will not bloom (or will bloom poorly) in some years because of a variety of winter occurrences beyond the control of the gardener (e.g. low temperatures, sudden wide temperature fluctuations, icy conditions, late frosts).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Hydrangea macrophylla, commonly called big leaf hydrangea, is a deciduous shrub with a rounded habit that, in the St. Louis area, typically grows 3-6’ tall and as wide unless damaged by harsh winters or pruned smaller. It generally features serrate, obovate to elliptic, dark green leaves (4-8” long) and large clusters of long-blooming summer flowers in either lacecap form (flattened flower clusters of small fertile florets with scattered showy sterile florets often forming a marginal ring) or mophead form (globose flower clusters of mostly showy sterile florets).

Genus name comes from the Greek words hydor meaning water and aggeion meaning vessel in reference to the purported resemblance of the seed capsules to small water pitchers.

Specific epithet comes from the Greek words makros meaning large and phyllon meaning leaf in reference to plant leaves.

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Blaumeise' (translates from German as titmouse, blue tit or blue sky) is a compact lacecap cultivar that is sometimes marketed under the trade name of BLUE TITMOUSE. It is a member of the Teller Series of hydrangeas (Swiss series featuring names of native European birds), and is also sometimes commonly sold as 'Teller Blue', 'Blue Tit' or 'Blue Sky'. It grows to 3-5’ tall and as wide, and typically blooms on old wood (flower buds are produced the previous fall and overwintered). It may be grown in acidic soils for its blue florets or in alkaline soils for pinker florets. In acidic soils, the large showy sterile florets in the outer ring of each flower head are sky blue. In alkaline soils, the sterile florets emerge pink but often age to a pink-blue mixture. By reputation, this is one of the best of the blue lacecap hydrangeas.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to bud blight, bacterial wilt, leaf spot and mildew. Aphids are occasional visitors.

Garden Uses

Group or mass in the shrub border. Also a good specimen or accent for foundations and other locations near homes or patios. Hedge. Containers.