Wednesday, August 27, 2014

There’s a Caryopteris in my garden! By Joyce D’Agostino

Caryopteris x clandonsis photo by Joyce D'Agostino
Yes, I am lucky to have a Caryopteris in my garden (Caryopteris x clandonsis). I know, it sounds like a long extinct dinosaur but it actually is a lovely landscape scrub that bursts into purple blooms each August. The bees love the flowers and seem to be on this plant from sunrise to sunset.

Also known as the Blue Mist Spirea, this relative of the mint family is a deciduous woody bush that has green leaves from spring until late summer when it flowers. It actually has not been in the US that long. It is native to eastern and southern Asia and first came to our country in the 1960’s. It’s a nice addition to your landscape if you have limited room because it grows to a manageable size of about 3 – 5 feet tall and has gray-green sword shaped leaves. The name is derived from the Greek word karyon which means nut and pteron which means wing because the airy flowers have petals that resemble wings with the seeds tucked inside.

When many other flowers and scrubs are winding down in their flower production in the late summer, Caryopteris bushes have abundant purple-blue flowers and the bees eagerly visiting the blooms. Bumblebees, butterflies and hummingbirds are also attracted to the flower so it is an ideal plant to attract beneficial insects. It is known to be deer resistant and also resistant to many plant diseases. This easy care plant is also great for Xeric gardens and landscapes as well.

In the fall when the blooms fade, there are light tan papery flowers left on the stems. These can be left on the bushes for a little winter texture or some pick the flowers and use them in dried arrangements. If you enjoy some late summer color and watching happy bees, this shrub is a great addition to your garden.