Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
Goatsbeard Aruncus dioicus
Credit: Marty Baldwin
Goatsbeard Aruncus dioicus

Often mistaken for its lookalike astilbe, goatsbeard is a shade plant from an entirely different plant family. Its fernlike foliage and wispy white blooms lend airiness to gardens and look especially stunning en masse.

genus name
  • Aruncus
  • Part Sun
  • Shade
plant type
  • 1 to 3 feet
  • 3 to 8 feet
  • 1 to 4 feet wide
flower color
foliage color
season features
problem solvers
special features
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7

Colorful Combinations

Because they aren't particularly colorful themselves, goatsbeard makes a good foil for other colorful plants in a shade garden. Turn to these plants when you need some height in a shade garden because some varieties grow up to 8 feet tall. The lack of pests and problems is also part of their appeal. Fun fact: Each goatsbeard plant is either male or female, with the wispy cream blooms of the male plants being showier. Most are not sold as male or female, so if you're looking for one or the other, shop for goatsbeard when it's in bloom. The spent bloom stalks contribute an ornamental aspect but can flop over and look messy on some of the taller varieties.

Goatsbeard Care Must-Knows

These perennials are fairly easy to grow without much attention. Goatsbeard prefers woodland conditions, so the soil needs to be kept moist. If the soil dries out too much or too often, the leaves will burn, becoming dry and crisp on the edges. Having plenty of organic matter in the soil helps them thrive, so if your soil is lacking, amend it with peat moss and compost before planting. This also helps the soil retain water and ultimately keep your goatsbeard happy.

Goatsbeard plants like part shade and need shelter from the hot afternoon sun. In the northern range of their hardiness, they can take full sun; however, they will require consistently moist soil and will likely burn during any sort of drought.

Spent flower stalks can be left on the plants through the winter for visual interest, but should be cut back before new foliage emerges. Spring is also the best season to divide plants, but it is not necessary for plant growth.

More Varieties of Goatsbeard

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Dwarf Goatsbeard Aruncus aethusifolius plant
Credit: Blaine Moats

Dwarf Goatsbeard

Aruncus aethusifolius is a diminutive Japanese form that grows just 8-12 inches tall and blooms two weeks earlier than goatsbeard. Its ivory flowers are perfect for edging a path in a shady border. Zones 4-8

Goatsbeard Aruncus dioicus
Credit: Marty Baldwin


Aruncus dioicus bears tall plumes of feathery white blooms on plants that can reach 6 feet tall. Plants sometimes self-sow, but not enough to become weedy. Leave seed heads on plants for winter interest. Zones 3-7

Kneifii goatsbeard Aruncus dioicus
Credit: Marty Baldwin

'Kneifii' Goatsbeard

Aruncus dioicus 'Kneifii' is a great choice for small yards because it grows to only 3 feet tall and has 18-inch-long plumes of creamy white flowers. Zones 3-7

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