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Caryopteris (kar-ee-OP-ter-iss)

Common Name:  Bluebeard, blue mist spirea

Light:  - Full sun to part sun

Soil:  Average to loamy, well-drained

Moisture:  Average, drought tolerant

Blooms:  Late summer and fall

Zones:  varies considerably by type, generally 5 - 9


Caryopteris 'Snow Fairy'

Caryopteris 'First Choice'

Caryopteris Description and Cultural Information

Caryopteris divaricata. 2 - 3'. This Caryopteris has fuzzy green leaves and tiny little blue flowers in the fall. It is found in the Himalayas of China and a variegated version of the plant is called 'Snow Fairy', one of the best variegated plants of shrub like proportions you can grow. This plant dies back completely to the ground each winter so it is more of an herbaceous perennial than a woody shrub. It is perfectly hardy in zone 5 and could be hardy to zone 4.

Caryopteris x clandonensis, bluebeard, blue-mist spirea. 2' - 4'. Caryopteris is a nearly herbaceous shrub that have bright blue flowers in late summer above silvery foliage. 'Longwood Blue' has gray-green foliage and bluish violet flowers. 'First Choice' has dark green leaves with dark purplish blue flowers and a compact habit. 'Worcester Gold' has unique chartreuse to yellow foliage with bluish flowers and it is very hardy, possibly to zone 4. 'Petit Bleu' (aka 'Minbleu' and 'Petite Blue') has very dark flowers and an excellent, compact habit and is hardy to zone 6. 'Summer Sorbet' PP#15935 is an excellent golden variegated form and 'Jason' PPAF is a solid gold form, both of which are also hardy to zone 6. A very attractive pink Caryopteris is 'Pink Chablis' PP#16913 which has true soft pink flowers over wide green foliage, however it is only hardy to zone 7. Most others in this group are hardy from zones 5 to 9.

How to Grow:  Plant Caryopteris in average to loamy, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. They are best started on the dry side and prefer to grow relatively dry, especially while dormant, and in colder zones they are best planted early so they get established before winter. Treat the shrubby varieties as herbaceous perennials and cut them back to about a foot tall in early spring to encourage compact, uniform growth. Plants often self sow and are easy to root from softwood cuttings. In warmer climates and in fertile soil plants can be rampant and should still be trimmed back and shaped regularly to keep them looking attractive, plus shaping them a bit after the first set of blooms fade can encourage them to rebloom.

Landscape uses:  Caryopteris is a wonderful plant in the late summer garden and is prized by both hummingbirds and butterflies. Plant them at the middle or back of the perennial border, in groups or individually as an accent or filler where the foliage provides an interesting contrast to the garden even when they aren't in bloom. Combine them with ornamental grasses, asters, Boltonia, Sedum, and Japanese anemones.

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