Caryopteris Blue Mist Shrub: How To Grow A Blue Mist Shrub

By: Amy Grant

Caryopteris blue mist shrub is a shrub also classified as a “sub-shrub” with woody stems that partially die back in the winter, or even entirely all the way to the crown of the plant. A hybrid or cross between Caryopteris x clandonensi, this shrub is non-native to any area and hails from the family Lamiaceae. It may also be found under the names blue mist shrub, bluebeard, and blue spirea. Let’s learn more about how to care for blue mist shrubs.

This airy shrub has aromatic green, silvery green, yellow, or green and white foliage depending upon the cultivar. Caryopteris blue mist shrub’s prized feature, however, is the blue to purple blooms, flowering in late summer all the way up until the first heavy winter frost. The flowers on growing blue mist shrubs are great attractors for pollinators such as butterflies and bees.

How to Grow a Blue Mist Shrub

Blue mist shrub planting can occur in USDA zones 5 through 9 and is deciduous in most regions, although it may remain evergreen in mild climates. This shrub will grow to about 2 to 3 feet (0.5 to 1 m.) high by 2 to 3 feet (0.5 to 1 m.) across with a moderately fast growth rate.

Other information on how to grow a blue mist shrub advises planting in a sunny exposure in a well-draining, loose, loamy soil.

Some varieties of Caryopteris blue mist shrub to consider planting in the home landscape are:

  • ‘Longwood Blue’ – sky blue fragrant blooms and is a taller variety at about 4 feet (1 m.) tall
  • ‘Worchester Gold’ – golden foliage that is aromatic if crushed and lavender flowers
  • ‘Dark Knight’ – deep blue blooms on a medium-sized plant of 2 to 3 feet (0.5 to 1 m.)

Care for Blue Mist Shrubs

Caring for blue mist shrubs is quite easy as long as the plant gets plenty of sun and is planted in the appropriate zone listed above.

Blue mist shrubs are drought-tolerant, and, hence, requires an average amount of irrigation.

Overly fertilizing will result in a plant that is overblown and disorderly.

Pruning the blue mist shrub of any deadened branches, due to harsh winter and freezing, should be postponed until the plant begins to leaf out in the spring. The entire shrub may be cut back to the ground in the spring and, in fact, enlivens the specimen and fosters a more attractive evenly rounded shape. Flowering occurs on new growth.

Although this little beauty is a pollinator attractor, deer are generally not interested in browsing its leaves and stems.

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8 Dwarf Shrubs For Small Gardens & Spaces

Having a small space doesn’t mean you have to miss out on some of the best shrubs to grow, as many types of shrubs have dwarf varieties available so that you can enjoy their best qualities without having the worry that they will take over your space.

This list comprises some of the most interesting types of dwarf shrubs that are ideal for filling small gaps in your garden or using as features in a compact yard.

1. Dwarf Fothergilla

Scientific Name: Fothergilla gardenii

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Fothergilla gardenii ‘Blue Mist’

This deciduous shrub is native to the southeastern United States and is a brilliant addition to any small garden, adding a long three seasons of interest each year. This is a compact plant that grows in dense mounds measuring between two and three feet in width and height when mature. In early spring, the bare plant produces an array of flowers before the arrival of the foliage. The flowers take the shape of two-inch-long bottle-brushes, with a creamy white coloring. If you want a more colorful display, this plant is also available in other varieties, such as ‘Blue Mist,’ which produces baby blue blooms. The flowers have a sweet honey-like smell, so plant this shrub along a walkway or close to a bench so that the aroma can be fully enjoyed. The foliage of the plant arrives shortly afterward, in late spring or early summer. Leaves are oval-shaped and have a deep, dark green color, providing a nicely contrasting background for the flowers. In fall, the foliage develops to warm shades including orange, yellow, and red, often with all three colors present on a single leaf.

This shrub is low-maintenance and tends to be naturally resistant to pests and disease. It works well as a single specimen in a flower bed or can be grown in a row as a low hedge. It thrives in well-draining soils that are kept consistently moist. This plant grows well in full sun or partial shade but will produce the greatest number of flowers when in a full sun position.

2. Dwarf Mountain Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus mugo

Mature Size: Up to 4 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-7

Light: Full sun

Water: Low moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Pinus mugo ‘Humpy’, Pinus mugo ‘Carstens’, Pinus mugo ‘Mops’, Pinus mugo ‘Ophir’

In its native habitat of Europe, the dwarf mountain pine grows as a small tree of up to 20 feet in height, but there are several dwarf cultivars that reach a mature height of just three or four feet. Examples of these are ‘Ophir,’ which produces compact pine shrubs between two and three feet tall, and ‘Humpy,’ which has a similar size expectancy. These make wonderful plants in small spaces because they grow slowly but easily, require little to no maintenance, and are evergreen, offering year-round interest. These pine shrubs have needle-like foliage in various shades of green, and they produce attractive seed cones that add further interest to the plant.

These plants are a great choice if you struggle with poor soil quality, as they will adapt to a wide range of soils, including clay soil and sandy soil. They are also very tolerant of drought, and so do not need to be watered regularly, and in fact, will probably survive with rainfall as their sole method of irrigation, making them exceptionally easy to care for. They also do not require any pruning. These plants thrive in full sun and work particularly well in rock gardens or coastal locations.

3. Glossy Abelia

Scientific Name: Abelia x grandiflora

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-9

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining, average quality

Cultivars and Varieties: Abelia x grandiflora ‘Radiance’, Abelia x grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’, Abelia x grandiflora ‘Mardi Gras’, Abelia x grandiflora ‘Hopleys’

This is a hybrid plant that was first grown in Italy in the late 1800s. It is a semi-evergreen shrub, which means that the plant will typically lose half of its leaves in winter when grown in cooler climates. This plant takes a naturally rounded shape, with gracefully arching branches adorned with small, ovate leaves. The foliage is dark green through spring and summer and develops to a deep red-purple in fall. The plant produces clusters of small flowers that are bell-shaped and are white with a pink flush, resembling the flowers of jasmine.

This is a great choice of shrub if you are fond of flowers, as this plant will remain in bloom from spring right through to fall, and as an added bonus, the flowers have a mild fragrance. This shrub is easy to grow, requiring average soil conditions and a full sun or partially shaded position. It will flower most abundantly when allowed more hours of sun and should be lightly pruned annually.

4. Japanese Maple

Scientific Name: Acer palmatum

Mature Size: Up to 6 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone:

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, fertile, acidic

Cultivars and Varieties: Acer palmatum’ Wilson’s Pink Dwarf’, Acer palmatum ‘Crippsii’, Acer palmatum ‘Beni-Makum’

This plant is native to Japan, China, and Korea, and frequently grows to heights of over 25 feet. However, if you’re a fan of this plant but only have a small space to fill, then you’re in luck, as there are many varieties of Japanese maple that grow to just four or five feet tall. Some dwarf examples of Japanese maple include ‘Wilson’s Pink Dwarf’ and ‘Crippsii.’ These cultivars have compact growth habits that are ideal for smaller gardens. They are loved for their striking foliage, with leaves having three or five long lobes, and coming in a wide range of changing colors, including pink, red, green, orange, and yellow. They are deciduous shrubs that perform best in partial shade, though they can tolerate full sun. Their leaves develop to vibrant fall colors before dropping to the ground.

These are low-maintenance plants, but it is a good idea to mulch over their soil as they enjoy cool roots. They thrive in moist, well-draining soils, which are slightly acidic and have a good percentage of organic material.

5. Dwarf Chenille

Scientific Name: Acalypha reptans

Mature Size: Up to 2 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun and partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, fertile

This is a wonderfully quirky plant that is native to the Caribbean, and Florida in the US. It grows all year round in hot climates where it will remain evergreen, but can also be grown as an annual in cooler climates, or enjoyed as a houseplant. It has a compact, trailing habit, which makes it perfect for growing in hanging baskets or draping over the edge of a planter or down a raised wall. These exotic shrubs produce bright green foliage that provides the perfect background to vivid scarlet flowers that bloom freely throughout the year. These flowers have a fluffy texture and measure up to three inches long, resembling the tails of kittens.

These compact shrubs are accustomed to hot and humid climates, so they will thrive in similar conditions outside of their natural habitats. Grow in a well-draining, fertile soil, and water the soil freely in the summer and reduce watering in the winter. It grows well in both full sun and partial shade.

6. Korean Boxwood

Scientific Name: Buxus sinica var. insularis

Mature Size: Up to 4 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Buxus sinica var. Insularis ‘Wintergreen’, Buxus sinica var. Insularis ‘Nana’, Buxus sinica var. Insularis ‘Justin Brouwers’

This plant, also known as littleleaf boxwood, is a dwarf evergreen shrub with a dense and mounding growth habit. These plants are highly branched and packed full with light to medium green, small and lush foliage. These shrubs vary in size depending on the variety, with some having a smaller height expectancy than others, for example, ‘Nana,’ which only grows to a maximum of between one and two feet. These are easy plants to grow, with a slow growth habit ideal for small spaces so that they don’t take over the garden. They can be pruned into a specific shape if desired, or grown in rows to create low hedging. Korean boxwood plants produce small yellow-green flowers in the spring. These are quite fragrant but appear in sparse patterns amongst the leaves and are considered to be insignificant compared with the impact of the foliage.

Korean boxwood grows best in dappled shade, so consider planting it beneath a tree or shrub. If this is not an option, supply it with a mixture of sun and shade, ideally sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. This plant should be grown in a sheltered position away from strong winds, and should not have other plants cultivated too closely because it has shallow roots that can easily struggle if intrusive roots are growing nearby. It thrives in a wide range of soil types so long as they are well-draining. Aim to keep soil evenly moist.

7. Rhododendron

Scientific Name: Rhododendron

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-11

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, fertile, acidic

Cultivars and Varieties: Rhododendron ‘Princess Anne’, Rhododendron ‘Ginny Gee’, Rhododendron ‘Ramapo’, Rhododendron ‘Hino Crimson’, Rhododendron ‘Mary Fleming’

Rhododendrons are popular evergreen shrubs that produce stunning flowers in a wide range of colors. You’ve probably seen impressive rhododendron bushes taking up prominent spaces in gardens, as they often reach heights in excess of six feet, with a similar size spread. However, there are many varieties of rhododendrons that take the shape of dwarf shrubs, which is great news if you love these beautiful flowers and have a small garden. Some examples include ‘Ginny Gee’ that has a maximum height expectancy of between one and two feet and has won the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. This variety produces pure white flowers that margins flushed with bright pink and is suitable from growing in zones 6-8. Another good dwarf rhododendron is ‘Ramapo,’ which grows up to two feet tall, producing vivid lilac blooms. This variety is also an award-winning plant and grows well in zones 4-8.

These plants have drastically varying care requirements and growing conditions, so it’s important to choose a variety of rhododendron suitable for your climate and your specific situation. Some varieties are hardy shrubs that can grow well down to USDA hardiness zone 3, whereas others prefer warmer climates and cannot grow outside of zones 9-11. They also differ in their blooming periods, with some rhododendrons having short flowering seasons, and some blooming from spring right through to fall. Whichever variety you are able to grow, these dwarf shrubs make an excellent addition to small gardens, adding bright and glossy evergreen foliage, and luscious, colorful flowers. They generally thrive in full sun or partial shade and well-draining, acidic soil, which is kept moist.

8. Cape Jasmine

Scientific Name: Gardenia jasminoides

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-11

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, acidic, organic

Cultivars and Varieties: Gardenia jasminoides ‘Radicans’, Gardenia jasminoides ‘Golden Magic’, Gardenia jasminoides ‘Buttons’, Gardenia jasminoides ‘Crown Jewel’

These evergreen shrubs are native to Asia and thrive in temperate climates. Outside of suitable growing areas, they can successfully be grown as flowering houseplants. Cape Jasmine plants can grow to be quite large, but there are many dwarf varieties, such as ‘Radicans,’ which grow to just one foot tall. These plants bloom in spring and summer with highly fragrant white flowers. Their foliage is ovate and deep green, with a glossy finish. Grow them in acidic, well-draining soil that is not allowed to dry out.

The Plant Guide

These plants can take worst of the a hot summer (heat, lack of water, and humidity) and still manage to perform well. They generally live four to five years before they need replacing, but during that time, they offer dependable foliage and pretty blue flowers from mid- to late summer. Blue-mist shrubs form low-growing, finely-textured mounds and are deer-resistant.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsRelatively drought tolerant and very heat tolerant.

CareBlue-mist shrub likes full sun to part shade and very well-drained soil that is not overly rich. Cut back in late winter for a strong, dense shrub in summer.

PropagationSeparate rooted stems from parent plant and transplant in early spring. Also from softwood cuttings.

ProblemsInfrequent. Capsid bugs may affect leaves. May need to be hard pruned in spring in areas with severe winters.

  • Genus : Caryopteris
  • Plant Height : 1 to 3 feet
  • Plant Width : 3 to 6 feet
  • Zones : 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Characteristics : Attracts Bees, Attracts Hummingbirds
  • Tolerance : Deer Tolerant
  • Moisture : Dry to Medium
  • Growth Rate : Fast
  • Light : Full Sun
  • Maintenance : Low
  • Plant Type : Shrubs
  • Bloom Time : Summer
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Summer Interest

Propagating Blue Mist

Question: Can I collect seed from my blue mist shrub and expect it to sprout?

Answer: Blue mist shrubs (Caryopteris ×clandonensis cvs., also known as bluebeard shrubs or blue spirea) have gained in popularity in recent years for good reason, and it's easy to see why you'd want to increase your holding. These small shrubs offer suberb drought tolerance and bloom reliably in late summer and autumn, with (usually) blue to purple flowers that attract late butterflies. (Shown: 'Dark Knight'.) Some forms have variegated leaves or white or pink flowers.

To propagate blue mist from seed, collect their fruit—a light brown, winged nutlet—harvest the seeds and place them in damp sphagnum moss in a plastic bag. Put that in the refrigerator for three months, then sow them in pots. Transplant them outside in spring. With a long growing season, they should bloom their first year. Seedlings may vary from the mother plant.

Blue mist shrub can also be propagated by rooting stem cuttings taken in early summer. This ensures you'll get plants exactly like the original in appearance.

Caryopteris Blue Mist Shrub Care

Size & Growth

Dark Knight can grow 18″ to 30″ inches in a single year.

The maximum height is 3′ feet tall. The plant has a spread of 2′ to 3′ feet wide.

The oval leaves appear slowly in the springtime.

Don’t worry if your Bluebeard stays bare for a while early in the spring. This is no cause for alarm.

When the leaves do emerge, they will be oval or elliptic.

They are grayish/green and slightly toothed with fuzzy undersides.

When you brush them with your hand, they emit a pleasant fragrance.

Flowering & Fragrance

Blue Spirea flowers grow in cloud-like clusters from July through late September.

The showy, powdery blue blooms are very fragrant and extremely attractive to beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Light & Temperature

Blue Mist should be planted in full sun.

It is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5-8, but the top growth may suffer a bit in winter below zone 7.

If you do live in one of the cooler zones within the plants’ range, expect the stems to die back to the ground in the wintertime.

New growth will appear in the spring.

Watering & Feeding

Dark Knight should be kept fairly well-watered during the first year.

Once established, these plants are drought tolerant and do not usually need additional watering.

Blue Caryopteris clandonensis needs very little in the way of fertilizer.

It is better to feed these shrubs with a side dressing of good compost than to provide fertilizer.

Excessive fertilizer stimulates leaf growth and diminishes bloom production.

Soil & Transplanting

Blue Spirea likes a loose, loamy, well-drained soil with a neutral pH level.

Incorporate plenty of light organic matter into the soil to promote the correct level of water retention and drainage.

Take care to place your young Caryopteris in the planting hole level with the soil surface or just slightly higher.

Grooming & Maintenance

In USDA hardiness zones 5 and 6, you may wish to cut back your Bluebeard back to the ground at the end of the growing season.

This will prevent damage caused by winter cold and promotes vigorous growth in the springtime.

Hard pruning late in autumn is a good plan in zones 7 and 8, as well.

This type of winter management will not harm flower production and allows you to get a fresh start with your Bluebeard every spring.


The bluebeard shrub requires supplemental water applications during the summer growing season when the weekly rainfall amounts are less than 1 inch. Water applications should be a deep soaking to a depth of 10 inches. The shrub should be fertilized each spring with a balanced fertilizer. Do not apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer as this will stimulate heavy foliage growth but limit flower production. Bluebeard shrubs should be cut back to 3 inches about ground level in late winter to stimulate heavy branch growth in the spring.

Share All sharing options for: A Garden Designer's Favorite Shrubs

Like most garden designers, Wesley Rouse, owner of Pine Meadow Gardens Inc., a sought-after design-build landscape firm in western Connecticut, plays favorites, returning to certain plants that never fail to thrill and that excel in the landscape.

What does it take to turn his head? "All-season performance" tops his list. Here's a lineup of eight reliable, easy-care shrubs he uses for his clients and in his home garden and, in his own words, why they made the cut.

1. Rhododendron

Photo by hsvrs/Getty Images

Why he plants it: "For its bulky background foliage year-round, with the perk of spring color."

Details: This massive family of plants contains something for every landscape if provided with moisture and sheltered under trees. Grown mainly for its showy, often fragrant flowers, which come in numerous shapes, sizes, colors, and bloom times, and for the leaves that are evergreen in some species.

Habit: Reaches 6 to 20 feet high, depending on the variety, and up to 25 feet wide.

Care: Grow in moist, fertile, humus-rich acidic soil (pH 4.5 to 5.5), in dappled shade. Surface-rooted, it needs a 2-inch mulch covering to stay evenly moist.

2. Drooping Leucothoe

Photo by Doreen Wynja/Monrovia

(Leucothoe fontanesiana)

Zones: 4-7, though some cultivars, such as 'Girard's Rainbow,' are hardy to Zone 9

Why he plants it: "It serves as a deer-proof groundcovering shrub."

Details: One of the finest broadleaf evergreens for naturalizing and perfect for massing under large trees and or on shady slopes. Its fragrant white flowers bloom in spring, and its deep-green, leathery leaves have a purple cast in winter. An excellent companion plant for rhododendron.

Habit: Reaches 3 to 4 feet high and wide.

Care: Grow in well-drained soil rich in organic matter, in partial sun apply acid fertilizer after bloom. Water regularly during the first growing season to establish strong roots, and provide a 3-inch layer of mulch.

3. Redvein Enkianthus

Photo by De Agostini Picture Library/Contributor/Getty Images Doreen Wynja/Monrovia

(Enkianthus campanulatus)

Why he plants it: "In spring this shrub bears lily-of-the-valley-like flowers in autumn the foliage is on fire."

Details: A large deciduous shrub of erect habit, with layered branches and small leaves that turn bright red, orange, and yellow in autumn. Best loved for its nodding clusters of small cream or reddish bell-shaped flowers from late spring to mid-summer.

Habit: Reaches 6 to 15 feet high and wide, depending on the zone.

Care: Grow in moist, organically rich, well-drained peaty acidic soil, in full sun to part shade. Blooms on previous year's growth, so any pruning should be done immediately after flowering.

4. Dwarf Korean Lilac 'Palibin'

Photo by Elke Borkowski/Monrovia

(Syringa meyeri 'Palibin')

Why he plants it: "This is a mildew-resistant lilac that forms a dense shrub it is easily clipped into orbs or hedges to look swell even after the spring flowers are finished."

Details: A dwarf spreading deciduous lilac with reddish-purple buds that open to fragrant pale-lilac flowers. Blooms profusely in mid-season, typically mid-May, and first flowers at an early age. Good for use in shrub borders or in groups to form a low hedge.

Habit: Reaches 4 to 5 feet high and wide.

Care: Grow in average, dry to medium-well-drained soil, in partial to full sun, where it blooms best. To increase the following year's blooms, faded flower heads should be removed before seeds set prune for shape or size, as needed, immediately after flowering.

5. Boxwood

Photo by Richard Shiell/Getty Images

(Buxus hybrids)

Zones: 4-9, depending on the species

Why he plants it: "Winter, summer, whenever—these evergreens form a lasting hedge or accent plant."

Details: For functionality in the landscape, few broadleaf evergreens can match boxwood, a large family of plants (more than 90 species). From small, slow-growing English boxwood to modern hybrids bred to adapt to varying climates, there's a cultivar for just about every garden.

Habit: Varies, depending on the species.

Care: Grow in loamy, loose, well-drained soil, in full to partial sun keep tidy with periodic shearing or let it grow naturally.

6. Blue Mist Shrub

Photo by Christian Kordes/Monrovia

(Caryopteris x clandonensis)

Why he plants it: "A deer-resistant shrub that blooms when you least expect to see blue: in late summer."

Details: The mounding habit of caryopteris makes it perfect as a low border plant in masses and works wonders in dry, sunny spots. Hundreds of blue 1-foot-long flower spikes cover this plant in late summer.

Habit: Reaches 2 to 3 feet high and wide.

Care: Grow in very-well-drained sandy soil, in full sun thrives on neglect. For a strong, dense shrub, cut back in late winter.

7. Blue Holly

Photo by Doreen Wynja/Monrovia

(Ilex x meserveae)

Why he plants it: "It not only gives year-round structure but also serves berries to the birds."

Details: Named for its glossy blue-green leaves, this is a dense, vigorous shrub with shiny red fruit on female plants. Meserve hybrids require a pollinator to set fruit. Plant one male cultivar, such as 'Blue Prince,' for every 10 female cultivars, such as 'Blue Princess.'

Habit: Reaches 10 feet high and wide.

Care: Grow in average moist, acidic, organic soil with good drainage, in full sun to part shade. Good winter hardiness. Prune in early spring just before new growth begins.

8. Butterfly Bush

Photo by Proven Winners/Monrovia

(Buddleia davidii)

Why he plants it: "For a long spate of blossoms that bring in pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, by the drove."

Details: Amazingly tough woody shrubs with large fragrant, colorful flowers that attract butterflies and more into your summer garden. A prolific self-seeder, this can be an invasive pest in some areas check local restrictions before planting it.

Habit: The size varies.

Care: Grow in well-drained, slightly alkaline (pH of 6.0 to 7.0) soil, in full sun, to ensure adequate flowering. Like most shrubs, it benefits from a 2-inch layer of organic mulch. Prune in spring to 2 to 3 feet to stimulate new growth and keep the plant's scale. Deadhead regularly to encourage reblooming.

Watch the video: Bees are in love with Caryopteris Blue Mist

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