Teller Red HydrangeaHydrangea macrophylla ‘Rotdrossel’
View more from Hydrangeas
30 day - ARRIVE AND THRIVE™ guaranteeLearn more
Probiotic Root Stimulant
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Rotdrossel’
Outdoor Growing zone
The Teller Red Hydrangea has some of the largest lacecap flowers of any hydrangea. They are a spectacular bold red-pink, with terrific garden impact. This large bush can become 7 feet tall and 5 feet wide, with beautiful rich-green leaves of strong texture and large size. The 7 to 8 inch heads have an outer circle of very large flowers, and the center is packed with many small flowers – all in glowing red. This shrub is ideal for the back of borders or along a wall or fence. Grow it around your home or out in wooded areas.
Grow the Teller Red Hydrangea in partial shade, with morning sun, in light shade on a north-facing wall or fence, or beneath deciduous trees. The soil should be rich, moist and well-drained, and the clearest red colors develop in alkaline soils. In acid soils the blooms may be purple-blue. It is usually free of pests or diseases, but not deer-proof. Only prune lightly, removing weak growth in spring and dead flowers in fall.
The coloring of hydrangeas is often misunderstood, and many people think that the color a fixed for different varieties. This isn’t true – in reality the color of the flowers changes greatly, depending on the acid or alkaline balance in your soil. Many people covet blue hydrangeas, but if your garden soil is not strongly acidic, they won’t stayblue for long, unless you grow them in a planter with suitable soil. In many garden soils most hydrangeas become pink or purple, but if you want clear reds and pinks you need to grow a variety tending to those colors, or they will be made muddy with purple tones. For a clear deep red-pink in alkaline gardens, the Teller Red Hydrangea is a top-pick. It is widely seen as the ‘best of the reds’, with large lacecap flower heads that glow across the garden all summer. If you love pinks and reds, on big, bold, classic hydrangea bushes, this is the hydrangea for you.
The Teller Red Hydrangea is a bold deciduous shrub, growing 5 to 7 feet tall, and up to 5 feet across. It has thick branches and it grows bushy from the base, making a rounded form. The large leaves are very attractive, with a slightly leathery texture and a crinkled surface with pronounced veins. They are up to 7 inches long and 4 inches wide, with a pointed tip and serrated edges. They are a rich, dark green, turning yellow with reddish tones in fall.
The flowers first show by mid to late spring as clusters of buds at the ends of the stems. By mid-summer they have developed fully, spreading out into very late flat heads 7 or even 8 inches across. This plant has flowers of the lacecap type, which are much more weather-resistant than the more well-known mophead type. The don’t collapse in rain, making this a much more suitable variety for gardens. Each flower head has two types of flowers – an outer group of about 12 large, 1½ inch blooms, and an inner group of many small flowers, tightly packed. The large blooms have 4 petals and they are a rich, dark pink-red color. The smaller flowers are also pink-red, making a beautiful bloom. The flowers remain attractive for weeks and weeks, gradually fading to greenish tones by early fall.
This shrub is ideal for the middle or back of partially-shaded beds everywhere in your garden. Grow it as a bold border along a fence or wall, or plant it out in open wooded areas. Plant it around your home or behind smaller shrubs like azaleas or gardenias.
The Teller Red Hydrangea blooms only on older stems, so it is best grown in zone 6 or warmer areas. It is reliable all the way through zone 9.
Bright partial-shade is best for the Teller Red Hydrangea, which should be protected from the hot afternoon sun, but not grown in dense shade. It grows best in rich and moist soils that are well-drained. Use plenty of organic material when planting. It is not drought resistant. In soils with a neutral or alkaline pH the color of the flowers is clear red. In acid soils the blooms will be purple-blue.
This vigorous shrub is usually free of pests or diseases, but it is susceptible to deer attack. It is best grown with minimal pruning. Simply remove any weak or dead twigs in early spring, and trim dead flower heads in fall, cutting back to the first buds you see on the stem. Do not prune at other times, as this can seriously reduce flowering. Mulch with rich organic material in spring, and water regularly through summer. If your flowers show purple tones, add garden lime around the roots each fall – it may take a season or two for the change to show.
When the plant collector Charles Maries was sent by the English nursery Veitch to China and Japan, he returned in 1879 with two hydrangeas. One had spherical heads of large blooms and the other had flat flowers, with a mix of large and small blooms. These were the original mophead and lacecap plants that were developed into the many varieties we have today.
Many of the best lacecap varieties were created at the Federal Research Institute for Horticulture, in the castle of Wädenswil, in Switzerland. In 1952 they crossed together a mophead variety called ‘Tödi’ with a wild lacecap plant. Over the next 35 years they bred plants from that original cross, steadily creating more and more lacecap varieties, until by 1987, when the breeding ended, they had developed 26 varieties. Because of the flat flower heads these plants are often called the ‘Teller Series’, because ‘teller’ means ‘plate’ in German. They come in all colors, but the variety called ‘Rotdrossel’ (which means ‘red wing’) is widely recognized as one of the very best red hydrangeas for gardens. It was released at the end of the program, in 1987.
This hydrangea is certainly the most outstanding red variety for garden growing. Weather-resistant, with very large blooms, it is a wonderful shrub you will love to have in your garden. Vigorous and relatively easy to grow, it is always on gardeners ‘must have’ list, so plants don’t stay in stock for long – avoid disappointment and order now.