blue mist

How To Grow and Care For Blue Mist (Caryopteris x clandonensis)

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Blue Mist is a beautiful, compact sub-shrub with gray-green foliage and masses of showy blue flowers. These plants bloom at a time of the year when many plants have already finished flowering, making them a great late season asset. Read on to learn more on how to grow and care for the blue mist plant. 

What Is A Blue Mist Plant?

Caryopteris blue mist, also known as bluebeard, hybrid bluebeard, or blue spirea is a deciduous sub-shrub of the Lamiaceae family. This plant which is technically known as Caryopteris x clandonensis is a hybrid of two east Asian species, C. incana and C. mongholica. The parent plants are native to China, Korea, and Japan, and China and Mongolia respectively. (1)

C. incana is commonly grown, although Caryopteris x clandonensis is the most popular form in cultivation. 

This beautiful plant has a mounding growth form and reaches a size of up to 3ft (0.9m) tall and wide. Blue mist is fast-growing and reaches this size after a single year’s regrowth. Being a sub-shrub, these plants persist through the winter as dormant old growth of limited height, before regrowing in the warmer months.

The gray-green foliage of this plant has a distinctive smell if crushed, due to the presence of aromatic compounds known as terpenes. Blue mist plants have simple, strongly toothed leaves that are oppositely arranged. 

Cultivars

  • ‘First Choice’: This cultivar has reddish stems and dark blue flowers, each with a white center. The leaves of this form also develop hints of purple late in the season.
  • ‘Dark Knight’: This cultivar is much loved for its dark blue to purple flowers and reddish stems. 
  • ‘Heavenly Blue’: This large-leaved cultivar has a reddish stem and a bushy to erect growth form. 
  • ‘Summer Sorbet’ is a compact cultivar that has variegated leaves with yellow margins that grow from darker stems. This cultivar has a bushy growth form and paler small blue flowers

Blue Mist Flowers

The bright blue flowers of this plant occur in inflorescences known as cymes in the late summer to fall when not many other plants are in bloom. Each flower head holds about 20 very small tubular flowers. 

Long after flowering, the inflated flowerheads of these plants still provide some interest to the winter garden. 

How To Grow A Blue Mist Plant

Caryopteris blue mist is easily grown from seed collected in the fall and sown in the spring. However, being a hybrid plant, new plants propagated from seed will not necessarily have the same characteristics as the parent plant and therefore propagation from cuttings is preferred.

Perhaps the easiest method of propagating new plants is by cuttings. Anything from softwood cuttings taken in spring, right up to hardwood cuttings taken in midwinter will root quite easily. These plants mature and flower after 2-3 years. (2)

The best growing medium for these plants is sand or loam. A well-drained substrate is essential as these plants do not enjoy having ‘wet feet’. The plants have medium water requirements and should be grown in full sun. 

Blue mist plants can be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8 or 9 but will have different growth characteristics across these varying climates. In zones 5 and 6, these plants usually die back to ground level in the winter before resprouting. In zones 7 to 9, these plants behave more typically as sub-shrubs. Outdoors in zones below 5, it is possible to grow this plant only as an annual.

Care and Maintenance

Blue mist is best pruned hard in mid to late spring after the last severe frosts to stimulate the growth of new flowering shoots. (3) In zones 7 and 8 you can also prune back to just above new leaf buds in the spring.

Blue mist bush generally does not require fertilizing, and feeding should be limited to prevent rank, untidy growth unless grown in very poor soils. These low-maintenance plants are highly resistant to pests and diseases but may suffer from root and crown rot if overwatered or grown in a poorly drained medium. 

Uses

Horticultural uses

These plants make very attractive and fragrant deciduous border plants or low hedges. Being compact, these plants will also do well in containers.

Wildlife uses

Blue mist flowers attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. These shrubs are regarded as deer proof plants

FAQs

Conclusion

The blue mist plant is a great option for late-season color since it blossoms at a time of year when most plants are no longer flowering. This pest and disease resistant plant’s neat and compact growth form makes it ideal for smaller gardens, where space is limited.

Feel free to check our blog for more common shrubs.

References

Reference list

(1) Miller, D. Caryopteris. 

https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/pdfs/plant-trials-and-awards/plant-bulletins/caryopteris.pdf

(2) Toogood, A. Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant By Plant Manual of Practical Techniques. 

(3) Brickell, C. & Joyce, D. Pruning & Training: What, When and How To Prune. 

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*image by nahhan/depositphotos

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