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While often confused for astilbe, this wonderfully shade plant is actually in an entirely different family! With their fern-like foliage and wispy white blooms, these plants lend an airiness to the garden that can really help to break up coarse textures. They look especially stunning in mass, and can act as a “groundcover” to really fill in garden space.

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Part Sun, Shade



From 1 to 8 feet


1 to 4 feet wide

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garden plans for Goatsbeard

Colorful Combinations

They may not be particularly colorful themselves, but the neutral tones and light texture of these plants make them great for blending with any color in the shade garden. The large size of these plants also makes them handy, as there often aren't shade plants that are quite this tall. They work great as a shrub substitute in many shady situations. They make fantastic backdrops, as they have few pests or problems, so the foliage almost always looks nice and green. When they are in bloom, the wispy cream-colored blossoms add an additional appeal to these plants. The spent bloom stalks can add an ornamental aspect to the plants as well, but on some of the larger varieties may begin to flop and look messy.

Goatsbeard Care Must-Knows

These native perennials are fairly easy to grow, and don't ask for too much attention. The most important thing to consider when planting goatsbeard is moisture. These are plants that are used to woodland conditions, and keeping them consistently moist is a must. If they are allowed to dry out too much or too often, it is very likely that the leaves will burn and crisp on the edges. In part shade, they can take it a little bit drier that full sun, but still need fairly consistent moisture. It also helps to have nice, rich soil with plenty of organic matter. If you don't, it won't hurt to amend the soil some before planting with some peat moss and compost.

As far as sunlight requirements, goatsbeard like to be in part shade. They especially like to be sheltered from the hot afternoon sun. If they are going to have any direct sun, morning is best time to get it. Being protected from the afternoon heat is also beneficial, because these plants do not like hot and humid summers. In the northern range of their hardiness, these plants can take full sun. However, they will require consistently moist soils, and if they go through any sort of drought, are likely to burn.

Overall, there is very little maintenance to be done to keep these plants looking their best. Spent flower stalks can be left on the plants through the winter for added interest, but should be cut back in late winter before new foliage emerges. Spring is the best season to divide plants, but it is typically not necessary for plant growth. Goatsbeard also has little, if any, pest and disease problems.

More Varieties of Goatsbeard

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


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 '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

plant Goatsbeard with

This plant hardly grown 40 years ago is now one of the most commonly grown garden plants. But hosta has earned its spot in the hearts of gardeners -- it's among the easiest plants to grow, as long as you have some shade and ample rainfall.Hostas vary from tiny plants suitable for troughs or rock gardens to massive 4-foot clumps with heart-shape leaves almost 2 feet long that can be puckered, wavy-edged, white or green variegated, blue-gray, chartreuse, emerald-edged -- the variations are virtually endless. Hostas in new sizes and touting new foliage features seem to appear each year. This tough, shade-loving perennial, also known as plaintain lily, blooms with white or purplish lavender funnel-shape or flared flowers in summer. Some are intensely fragrant. Hostas are a favorite of slug and deer.
Perennial geranium
One of the longest bloomers in the garden, hardy geranium bears little flowers for months at a time. It produces jewel-tone, saucer-shape flowers and mounds of handsome, lobed foliage. It needs full sun, but otherwise it is a tough and reliable plant, thriving in a wide assortment of soils. Many of the best are hybrids. Perennial geraniums may form large colonies.
Cinnamon fern
Tall and elegant, these ferns look great during the spring and summer months thanks to their green fronds, but also in fall and winter when their upright reproductive fronds stand in the snow. They are excellent in damp soils and look especially at home beside ponds and streams. They may colonize large areas.
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