Beyond Midnight® bluebeard. Photo by: Proven Winners

Brilliant true-blue flowers are a rarity in any season, particularly in the fall when the garden is awash in toasty shades of gold and burnt orange. That’s the delightful surprise of Caryopteris (bluebeard), a late-blooming shrub covered with fragrant clusters of airy blue flowers in late summer until the first chill of frost.

Compact in size, this drought-tolerant bloomer thrives in almost any sunny location and is especially well-suited for space-challenged gardens, shrub borders, mass plantings, and containers. Even when bluebeard is not in bloom, the colorful, aromatic foliage adds ornamental interest and fragrance starting in early spring and lasting throughout the entire season.

On this page: Basics | Planting | Care | Varieties | Landscaping Ideas


Botanical name:

Caryopteris spp.

Common names:

Bluebeard, blue mist spirea—although not related to spring- and summer-blooming Spirea



Plant type:

A deciduous shrub, but often treated as a perennial in colder climates because the above-ground growth will die back in harsh winters.


Full sun


2 to 4 feet tall and wide

Bloom time:

Usually late summer through early fall, with some varieties blooming until mid-fall.


Linear, finely toothed leaves may be gray-green, silver, gold, bright yellow, or variegated, depending on the variety. Rub or crush the leaves with your hands to enjoy their pleasant, eucalyptus-like scent.


Arranged along the length of the stems in feathery whorls, Caryopteris flowers range in color from powder blue to deep violet-blue, although pink-flowered cultivars are also available. The base petals are elongated like tiny beards, inspiring the plant’s common name.

Special attributes:

  • Attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds
  • Drought and heat tolerant
  • Low maintenance
  • Fragrant flowers and foliage
  • Rabbit and deer resistant


When to plant:

The cooler months of spring or fall are the best times to plant bluebeard to prevent transplant shock from extreme summer heat. Avoid planting too late in the season, especially in colder regions. Ideally, you should get your plant in the ground at least a month before a heavy freeze to allow time for the roots to become established.

Where to plant:

Grows best in a sunny spot that receives at least 6 hours of direct sun daily. Will also tolerate light shade, but plants won't bloom as well and may become spindly. Avoid planting in a site where the soil remains wet in winter and early spring.

How to plant:

When planting from nursery starts, dig a hole about twice the width and just as deep as the size of the container. Remove the plant, gently teasing apart the roots, and place in the hole with the crown level with the soil surface. Backfill with the native soil, then water thoroughly.


Space bluebeard shrubs at least 2 feet apart, depending on plant size at maturity. For shrub borders and mass plantings, closer spacings will result in a fuller look and greater impact.


Beyond Pink'd® bluebeard. Photo by: Proven Winners


Caryopteris is a great shrub for waterwise gardens because it only needs supplemental watering during prolonged dry spells. The exception is young plants, which should be watered regularly until they become established.

Amendments and fertilizer:

Bluebeard shrubs will flourish with only light mulching and some organic matter mixed into the soil at planting time. Avoid overfertilizing, which will stimulate foliage growth at the expense of flower production. Amending the soil with compost or other organic matter will also help to improve drainage.

Pruning and deadheading:

Similar to other flowering shrubs that produce flowers on new growth, Caryopteris can be pruned hard in spring by cutting the woody stems down to just above new emerging shoots. This will also encourage sturdier, denser growth.

There is no need to deadhead bluebeard for continual bloom, and the seedpods that remain after the flowers fade can provide ornamental interest or be used in dried flower arrangements. If you want to avoid possible seed spread, remove the spent flowers before they go to seed.


Thrives in ordinary, well-drained soil. Will not tolerate heavy clay soils or wet feet in winter.


Although bluebeard may self-sow, you can also propagate it by softwood stem cuttings taken in late spring.

Pests and diseases:

Caryopteris has no serious pest or disease problems, but crown rot can be an issue in poorly drained soils.


Swipe to view slides

Photo by: Proven Winners

Beyond Midnight®Buy now from Proven Winners
Caryopteris x clandonensis

Zones: 5-9
Height and spread: 24 to 30 inches tall and wide
Bloom time: Late summer through early fall

Glossy, dark green foliage creates a wonderful backdrop for this cultivar’s bewitching midnight-blue flowers. A tidy, compact habit makes it a great choice for containers or as a low shrub in front of taller plants.

Photo by: Proven Winners

Beyond Pink'd®Buy now from Proven Winners
Caryopteris incana

Zones: 7-9
Height and spread: 24 to 30 inches tall and wide
Bloom time: Late summer through mid-fall

A newer introduction notable for its bright pink, pompom-like blooms that are produced in profusion all along the stems. Not quite as hardy as other Caryopteris, so winter protection is needed in cooler climates.

Photo by: Proven Winners

Sunshine Blue® IIBuy now from Proven Winners
Caryopteris incana

Zones: 5-9
Height and spread: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide
Bloom time: Late summer through early fall

An extra-hardy, long-lived variety adorned with masses of rich violet-blue flowers complemented by bright yellow foliage. The feathery blue blooms are irresistible to butterflies and bees in search of a fall feast.

Photo by: Lana B / Shutterstock

Longwood Blue
Caryopteris x clandonensis

Zones: 5-9
Height and spread: 3 to 4 feet tall and wide
Bloom time: Mid-summer through early fall

Taller and more upright than most bluebeards, this cultivar is prized for its showy spires of sky-blue flowers and handsome silvery gray foliage. Stunning when planted in rows as a hedge or border plant.

Photo by: Sandy Pruden / Millette Photomedia

Dark Knight
Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Dark Knight'

Zones: 5-9
Height and spread: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide
Bloom time: Late summer through early fall

A compact, mounding variety with smoky-blue blooms and dusky gray-green leaves. Very attractive in mass plantings or as a low hedge. Deer and rabbits will steer clear of the powdery, aromatic foliage.

Photo by: Keith Jessie Anne / Millette Photomedia

Worcester Gold
Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Worcester Gold'

Zones: 5-9
Height and spread: 24 to 30 inches tall and wide
Bloom time: Mid-summer through early fall

This cultivar is aptly named for its brilliant gold foliage, which makes a striking backdrop to the lavender-blue flowers. The leaves maintain their golden color all season to provide a long period of interest.

Photo by: Nancy J. Ondra / Shutterstock

White Surprise
Caryopteris x clandonensis 'White Surprise'

Zones: 5-9
Height and spread: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide
Bloom time: Late summer through early fall

A surprising twist on conventional bluebeard, this variegated cultivar features attractive silvery-green leaves accented by creamy-white edges. A bit harder to find than some other varieties, but worth seeking out for the highly ornamental foliage.


Because of its compact size, Caryopteris has a multitude of uses in garden beds and borders. Try some of these design ideas:


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