Caryopteris - Bluebeard
DESCRIPTION: This group consists of about six hardy, small, deciduous shrubs that are natives to China, Mongolia and Japan. Bluebeards, as they are commonly known, are valued for their fragrant foliage and because they bloom in late summer and autumn, the time of year that few shrubs are flowering. Their foliage is a grayish color and they produce different shades of blue flowers among the varieties. C. incana has small leaves and violet-blue flowers in late summer and fall. This shrub is a spreading plant that can grow 4-6 feet high. When bruised, the leaves emit a scent resembling mint. C. mongholica has narrow leaves and it produces larger and brighter blue flowers than C. incana. C. clandonensis is a hybrid between C. incana and C. mongholica. The lavender-blue flowers are produced abundantly in late summer. This shrub will grow up to3 feet high.
POTTING: Bluebeards will thrive in well-drained soil in a sunny position. They can even grow in soil that is alkaline. These plants can be grown in containers in a cool greenhouse. The best soil to use for them is well-drained, sandy loam. Compost, decayed manure or peat moss should be added. Planting should be done in the spring. Since the flowers are produced from the growths of the current year, the prior year's shoots should be cut back hard in the spring each year. Strong, fresh shoots will form in a few weeks; if they're crowded, they need to be thinned out after they're a few inches long. In cold districts, the growths of Caryopteris are usually killed to the ground in the winter, but if the stools (the crown of roots or clumps of plant) are protected by old coal ashes or other suitable protection, new shoots will usually grow again in the spring.
PROPAGATION: Cuttings can be made from the non-flowering shoots in July or August. They should be 2½ to 3 inches long. Insert them in sandy soil in a greenhouse, frame, or under a bell jar. Seeds may also be sown in the spring.
VARIETIES: C. incana (sometimes known as C. Mastacanthus); C. mongholica; C. clandonensis & var. Blue Mist, Heavenly Blue, Worcester Gold.
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