In the Garden:
Mid-Atlantic
September, 2001
Regional Report

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917

Caryopteris or blue-mist shrub is fragrant, long blooming and a favorite of bees.

Blue-mist Shrub

Caryopteris x clandonensis goes by many common names including Bluebeard, Blue-spirea and Blue-mist Shrub, but Blue-mist is the most descriptive name when it is blooming. The fluffy flowers are quite blue (with a hint of lavender) and the delicate textured foliage is a silvery blue-green. These combine to create a wonderful hazy, cloudy blue effect, especially magical at dusk.

Easy to Grow

This shrub is small, about three feet tall and wide, and is root hardy to zone 5. It is great in a low maintenance mass planting in a sunny location as it is extremely drought tolerant, needs only average soil and a bit of a trim each spring.

After a mild winter, the plant may lose just the tips of its branches. In a cold or snow-free winter, it may die back to the ground. So each spring, I trim away any damaged wood and then wait for the plant to grow back. But grow back it does, and then blooms its heart out.

Flower Power

Delightful as it is all on its own, caryopteris is a real workhorse in the mixed border. The blue is gorgeous next to purple coneflowers and pink flowered sedums. The silver and blue tones combine beautifully with other gray foliage such as lambs ear or a low mat of dianthus. Caryopteris is equally charming with bright yellows -- or with any other color you can imagine!

Best of all, you can enjoy caryopteris for weeks on end. In my garden, these shrubs have been blooming since July and are still going strong in mid September! I also love the way this plant attracts bees and butterflies, and it does set viable seed. This means you may even have a few volunteer seedlings to share with friends -- once you have spread them generously throughout your own garden.


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