Grown for its stunning purplish blue blossoms, bluebeard adds a much-needed splash of garden color in mid- to late summer. The plant also carries on through much of the fall for a spectacular display that mixes well with cool color palettes and also acts as a refreshing contrast to the hot colors of fall. Bluebeard shrubs also look attractive in containers, especially when you choose the variegated and golden varieties.
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As one of the few flowering shrubs that bloom in late summer, bluebeard can be a valuable plant to add to your garden. Also called blue mist spirea, this deciduous shrub features long, graceful stems covered in small leaves. Those stems are loaded with blossoms at every leaf section when it is at peak bloom, which draws butterflies and bumblebees. There are many colorful foliage varieties to consider in addition to the familiar soft, silver-green version. Golden foliage is one of the most appealing; its bright yellow leaves create a stunning backdrop for the bright blue flowers. When bluebeard isn't in bloom, the foliage adds visual lightness to the garden
Related: Flowering Shrubs by Season
Bluebeard Care Must-Knows
Bluebeard will not tolerate wet soils, so make sure it's planted in a thoroughly well-drained area. If the soil stays wet, the shrub's roots will likely rot. If these plants are too wet during the winter, they won't come back in the spring. Once established, bluebeard is drought-tolerant.
Bluebeard thrives in full sun. Some of the older varieties of bluebeard can display a fairly loose structure of branches, but full sun ensures these plants are as dense as possible. Full sun is also ideal for the most impressive flower display; the less sun the plant gets, the fewer blossoms will appear.
The top growth of bluebeard is not nearly as winter-hardy as the roots. But bluebeard blooms on new growth, so this characteristic typically isn't a problem. If you think you have lost your plants to winter, wait and watch for signs of growth at the base. For the most vigorous and compact growth, cut back the shrub each spring. Pruning encourages growth from the base and prevents plants from dying out in the middle.
Many of the new bluebeard varieties are dwarf in size, making them good choices for smaller spaces and containers. Other new varieties display colored foliage that won't burn in the sun. There are also new and improved varieties boasting bigger and bluer blooms.
More Varieties of Bluebeard
'Beyond Midnight' Bluebeard
Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Beyond Midnight' is a recent introduction that has deep, dark green foliage with a lovely gloss. They are compact with deep blue flowers. Zones 5-9
'Blue Mist' Bluebeard
Caryopteris 'Blue Mist' grows 3 feet tall and features light blue flowers with an open, loose growth habit perfect for cottage gardens. Zones 5-8
'Longwood Blue' Bluebeard
Caryopteris 'Longwood Blue' is one of the most outstanding introductions. It features sky blue flowers that appear in midsummer and last until fall. It grows 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-8
Petit Bleu Bluebeard
Caryopteris 'MinBleu' is a French introduction that flaunts rich sky blue flowers on a compact, 3-foot-tall plant. Zones 5-8