How to Grow Caryopteris – Bluebeard

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Caryopteris — commonly known as bluebeard or blue spirea — is a small deciduous shrub often treated as a perennial. It’s grown for its frothy, rounded flower clusters that appear in mid-summer.

The flowers appear against handsome, gray-green, fine-textured foliage that emits a pleasant eucalyptus-like fragrance with rubbed. Flowers are borne on the current year’s shoots. Often the plant dies back to the ground in winter.

Caryopteris is ideal for a mixed or shrub border. It can be grown as a small annual hedge.

There are six members of the Caryopteris species; all are aromatic deciduous shrubs or perennials.

Caryopteris incana
Caryopteris incana

Get to know Caryopteris 

  • Plant type: Deciduous shrub. 
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 6 to 9 
  • Hardiness: Caryopteris is root hardy to Zone 4.
  • Height and width: 3 feet (1m) tall. 
  • Foliage: Compact shrub, aromatic foliage; entire to toothed leaves are opposite. 
  • Flowers: Blue flowers borne in terminal or axillary panicles.
  • Bloom time: Late summer and early fall. 
  • Uses: Good choice for beds and mixed borders; good in butterfly garden or as low hedge.   
  • Garden companions: Curry plant (Helichrysum italicum subsp. serotinum
  • Common name: Blue spirea, bluebeard 
  • Botanical name: Caryopteris 
  • Family name: Verbenaceae
  • Origin:  Himalayas and mountains of Eastern Asia

Where to plant Caryopteris 

  • Plant Caryopteris in sun or light shade.  
  • Plant Camassia in light, well-drained, moderately fertile soil.  

When to plant Caryopteris 

  • Set container-grown Caryopteris in the garden in spring or autumn.
  • Sow seeds in the garden in spring.
Blue Caryopteris can be planted as a low summer hedge

Planting and spacing Caryopteris 

  • Space Caryopteris 3 to 5 feet (1-1.5m) apart.
  • Sow seed 1/8 inch deep in evenly prepared evenly prepared soil.

How to water and feed Caryopteris 

  • Keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Established plant tolerate dry conditions, but benefit if watered during drought.
  • Feed Caryopertis with an all-purpose, organic fertilizer in spring.

How to care for Caryopteris 

  • Caryopteris does freeze back in winter, cut it nearly to the ground in spring.
  • Cut back growth after each wave of bloom to encourage more flowers.

Caryopteris pests and diseases 

  • Caryopteris has few disease problems. 
  • Caryopteris can develop tarnished plant bugs.  
Caryopteris clandonensis attracts butterflies to the garden
Caryopteris clandonensis attracts butterflies to the garden

Caryopteris propagation 

  • Sow seed in autumn in containers in cold frame.
  • Take softwood cuttings of Caryopteris in late spring.  
  • Dig clumps in spring or fall and replant after division.

Caryopteris varieties to grow 

  • Caryopteris clandonensis, blue mist: Low-growing mound to 24 inches tall; clusters of small blue flowers top upper parts of stems; cultivars include ‘Blue Mist’, with light blue flowers; ‘Dark Knight’, with dark blooms and silvery foliage; ‘Worcester Gold’, with purple-blue flowers and yellow foliage.   
  • C. incana, common bluebird: taller than C. clandonensis with more open growth to 4 feet tall; lavender blue flowrs.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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