Caryopteris, the famous “bluebeard”

Caryopteris flower close up with a visiting bee.

Caryopteris, also called bluebeard, is a shrub that is unique thanks to its blooming.

Core Caryopteris facts

NameCaryopteris x clandonensis
FamilyLamiaceae (formerly Verbenaceae)
Type – shrub

Height – 5 feet (1.5 meters)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – rather rich

Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – August to October

Planting caryopteris

Caryopteris is a flower shrub that is preferably planted in fall or spring, and even in summer if purchased in a container.

Its resistance to the cold and to freezing is low, since it suffers when the temperature drops below 23°F (-5°C).

Season for planting caryopteris

You can plant caryopteris in fall, provided that winter isn’t too cold in your area, especially for those varieties that tend to be sensitive to the cold.

  • Caryopteris likes sun.
  • On the seaside, prefer an emplacement that is sheltered from wind.

How to plant caryopteris

Caryopteris isn’t too demanding as regards the quality of the soil, but proper planting will ensure good settling in, better development and abundant blooming.

  • Caryopteris likes light and well drained soil types, even poor ones.
  • It is a plant that execrates excessively rich soil, and will respond by producing leaves excessively, foregoing flowers altogether.
  • Place plants at least 20 to 32 inches (50 to 80 cm) apart.
  • Mix planting soil mix with garden soil.
  • Follow our advice on planting shrubs.

Propagating caryopteris

Making cuttings in summer is the easiest and fastest method to propagate caryopteris.

  • Snip 6-inch (15 cm) cuttings off new growth stems that have only partly hardened off.
  • Remove lower pairs of leaves, keeping only the topmost 1 or 2 levels.
  • It is possible to dip the cuttings in powdered rooting agents to increase the success rate.
  • Plant the cuttings in special cutting soil mix.
  • Keep the cuttings near light, without direct sunlight.

Pruning and caring for caryopteris

A bushy purple-flowering caryopteris with artemesia in the background.Caryopteris is a plant that requires little care, even if some practices when seen through will extend the blooming and protect it in winter.

Very resilient in the face of drought, cold and most diseases, caryopteris is a hardy ornamental plant.

It also fares well when grown in pots, especially if it freezes strongly in your area and you can bring it in for shelter in winter.

When in pots, you’ll also have to remember to water when the surface of the soil is dry.

Care in spring and summer

  • Light mulch avoids weed growth and retains moisture in the soil.
  • For specimens grown in pots, adding flower plant fertilizer in spring will help nourish the soil.

Care in fall and winter

  • Prune back short at the end of winter, this will help produce an even more spectacular blooming in summer.
  • This severe pruning is important for the upkeep of a compact bearing and a nice blooming.
  • Covering the plant with thick dried leaves mulch will help protect from from freezing.

Pruning caryopteris

As mentioned above, pruning consists in cutting the caryopteris back after the blooming and covering the plant with a thick layer of leaves.

If the climate in your area is harsh, wait for spring before pruning.

Learn more about caryopteris

Caryopteris flower with a few leaves and a strong bokeh in the background.Caryopteris, sometimes called bluebeard, is remarkable for its unique blooming in fall, the color of its flowers but also its fragrant leaves.

There are many varieties, like the ‘White surprise’ or the ‘Summer sorbet’ and the plant is easily recognizable by checking on its superb mottled leafage. There also are pink varieties such as the ‘Autumn pink’. Shown here are pictures of the ‘Dark Knight’ Caryopteris.

It grows to form a shrub that gives a flower bed a round and colorful touch, and is particularly well-liked by butterflies and bees that visit it repeatedly.

There are many caryopteris hybrids, even if these are reputed to be more vulnerable to freezing.

Although this plant it easy to grow, it does ask to be set in a spot that is sheltered and endowed with sun. No diseases have been reported to infect it.

Smart tip about caryopteris

Mulch will protect the caryopteris from freezing when winters are cold.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Caryopteris pollination by karen_hine under Public Domain
Caryopteris shrub by Patrick Standish under © CC BY 2.0
Caryopteris bloom by Jim under © CC BY 2.0