In the late summer it is hard to find things that are blooming, most of our plants are starting to succumb to the heat of the summer and are not looking great. For pollinator gardens, we need to make sure that we have something blooming all through the spring, summer, and fall. One great plant for pollinators in late summer is Blue Mist Spirea or Bluebeard.
Blue mist spirea, Caryopteris x clandonensis, is also called bluebeard. It is a suffrutescent shrub like a butterfly bush, which means that it has woody stems at the base but is herbaceous above on the plant. It grows up to 2-3 foot tall and wide in a mounded form that is light and airy. In late summer through fall, bluebeard produces clusters of bright blue tubular flowers. On the flowers, the base petal is elongated to look like a beard, hence the name bluebeard. The leaves are arranged opposite along the stem and are dull green colored and fragrant when crushed. The leaves are silvery and tomentose on the underside and 1-3 inches in length.
Blue mist spirea grows well in dry, sunny locations. It takes full sun and prefers loose, well-drained loamy soil. This plant does not tolerate shade. It is very drought tolerant and grows best in dry soils with little fertilizer, making it a great choice for low management landscape beds. Because bluebeard is a suffrutescent shrub, it should be cut back in the late winter as it blooms on new growth and will dieback over the winter months. It has little problems with diseases and insect pressure.
Dark Knight is a nice variety of bluebeard with deeper blue flowers. There is also a cultivar called ‘Longwood Blue’ that grows up to 4 feet tall with violet, blue colored flowers. ‘Heavenly Blue’ is a cultivar with fragrant, periwinkle blue flowers and grows more compact than the straight species. ‘Summer Sorbet’ is a variegated cultivar that has green leaves with yellow edging.
Bluebeard is a good pollinator plant. It attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. It is great for those with beehives because it is a bee magnet. It is also a great choice for acreage habitats or those on the edge of town because it is resistant to deer and rabbit feeding.
Blue mist spirea is a great choice for any landscape setting. It is best used as a specimen plant for summer bloom but it can be used as a grouping or perennial border. It is a great choice for pollinator habitat and isn’t munched on by rabbits or deer. So the next time you are looking for a new perennial plant for your landscape, look to bluebeard.