Add height and airiness to your shade garden with this easy-care perennial.

Goatsbeard Overview

Description 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
Common Name Goatsbeard
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Shade
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 1 to 4 feet
Flower Color White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Summer Bloom, Winter Interest
Special Features Cut Flowers, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant

Colorful Combinations

Because they aren't particularly colorful, goatsbeard makes a good foil for other brightly colored plants in a shade garden. Also, turn to goatsbeard when you need some height in a shade garden because some varieties grow up to 8 feet tall. Their lack of appeal to pests is a benefit as well.

Spent bloom stalks of goatsbeard contribute an ornamental aspect. Still, they can flop over and look messy on some of the taller varieties.

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.

Goatsbeard Care Must-Knows

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

Goatsbeard plants like part shade and need shelter from the hot afternoon sun. They can take full sun in the northern range of their hardiness; however, they require consistently moist soil and will likely burn during any 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's not necessary for plant growth.

More Varieties of Goatsbeard

Dwarf Goatsbeard

Dwarf Goatsbeard Aruncus aethusifolius plant
Blaine Moats

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
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

Kneifii goatsbeard Aruncus dioicus
Marty Baldwin

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

Goatsbeard Companion Plants


Green and White Hostas In Bloom
Julie Maris Semarco

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-shaped leaves almost 2 feet long. The leaves 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 appear each year. This tough, shade-loving perennial, also known as plantain 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

Purple Geranium Rozanne
Justin Hancock

One of the longest bloomers in the garden, the hardy geranium bears little flowers for months at a time. It produces jewel-tone, saucer-shaped flowers and mounds of handsome, lobed foliage. It needs full sun and 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

Cinnamon fern
Celia Pearson

Tall and elegant, these ferns look great during the spring and summer, 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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