Deutzia is an underused shrub that, in recent years, has finally begun to get the credit it deserves. With over 60 species in this genus, deutzia has a fair amount of diversity. New cultivars feature beautiful blooms, fall color, and even deer resistance. They have also scaled down some, allowing these versatile shrubs to be planted in even the smallest of gardens.
Deutzia's claim to fame is its bountiful white blooms in early spring. Specimen plants are amazing to behold when in full bloom, as the thick cover of blossoms leaves hardly a single leaf visible. Although most often white-blooming, there are pink selections as well. Not only are the blooms themselves gorgeous, but the flower buds are perfect little spheres. One variety, 'Chardonnay Pearls,' is marketed specifically for its buds. Just before the flowers burst open, the plants call to mind bubbles running up the side of a flute of sparkling wine.
It's hard to believe that deutzia didn't catch on sooner. They're extremely low-maintenance. Plant them in well-drained soils and provide consistent moisture until they're established. Once established, they can handle drought well, with few, if any, negative side effects.
Plant deutzia in full sun to maximize the flower buds and fall color (a few varieties turn deep burgundy red for a show of color in fall). While full sun is ideal for flower production, some varieties, like 'Chardonnay Pearls,' do better in part sun, as their blooms can burn in intense sun.
Don't overprune deutzias. These plants have a naturally beautiful arching habit that can be ruined with too pruning. If you absolutely need to prune them (for renewed vigor or to remove some old branches), the best way is to selectively prune only the oldest branches all the way back to the base. This keeps the overall shape intact and encourages new growth from the base. Do any pruning just after these plants bloom, as they set their flower buds in the fall.
There have been fantastic introductions to the deutzia market. One of the first was 'Chardonnay Pearls,' which brought interesting foliage into the mix and began the work of shrinking these plants to a more manageable size for the small garden. This has continued to be the trend, with other new varieties like 'Nikko' and 'Yuki Cherry Blossom,' both of which remain under 2 feet tall and wide. Pink blooms have also been brought into the mix, and we're sure that more great things are on the horizon.