Blue Mist Spirea

How to Grow Blue Mist Spirea

Blue mist spirea is one of the best shrubs for attracting butterflies. That’s because it blooms exactly at the time when monarch butterflies are getting ready to migrate (late summer/early fall) and provides a valuable food source.  Other butterflies are attracted to the plant as well.




What is blue mist spirea?

Blue mist spirea is also known as bluebeard, and is a deciduous woody shrub which loses its foliage each winter and gains it back in the spring. In warmer climates, it can keep its leaves throughout the dormant season. The plant grows quite tall, anywhere from three to four feet high and can spread across a space four feet wide.

The leaves are grayish-green and the flowers of the shrub are blue, some ranging in shades towards bluish-purple. It is often planted along with yellow flowers to make an attractive display. Blue mist spirea has runners which spread underground.  You can start your plants in the spring with cuttings or buy plants at a garden store. Seeds are not often available.

How to grow blue mist spirea

Bluebeard is very easy to grow. In fact, a common mistake gardeners make is to over fertilize. This can lead to excessive leaf growth and not many flowers. These plants are considered hardy in USDA plant zones 5 through 9.  They thrive in natural conditions. They flowers are numerous and If you deadhead the flowers, you will prolong blossoming into the fall.

Just follow these instructions and you will be growing blue mist spirea in no time:

  1. Find a place in your garden or yard where the plant can receive plenty of sunshine. A little shade is OK but don’t plant where there is shade throughout the day.

  2. Use lots of organic matter to initially prepare the soil. Dried manure and compost are good choices. It does not need much in the way of synthetic fertilizers, such as 10-10-10 or like combinations. If you do use these types of fertilizers, go with very light amounts and only fertilize once a year in the spring.

  3. Dig a hole that is twice as big as the root ball you are planting. The depth should be the same as the root.

  4. Hold the plant in the center of the hole while filling in around the outside of the plant with the soil you removed from the hole.

  5. Water the new plant thoroughly and then cover it with mulch. The mulch will keep the blue mist spirea as cool and moist as possible. Straw, bark, and wood chips are all good forms of mulch. They also can help keep the weeds down and some crawling insects away from your plants.

The origins of the bluebeard plant

Blue mist spirea originated in Southeast Asia. Fourteen of the sixteen species of the plant come from China, including the two species which were used to create the hybrid, which are known as C. mongholica and C. incana. Arthur Simmonds, the popular English grower and Secretary of the Royal Horticultural Society created the blue mist spirea hybrid in 1933. Many popular hybrids of the plant were developed in the 1990s.

Blue mist spirea is a welcome addition to any garden. It’s a very hardy plant that is often used in borders along walks and lawns. It works well in soils where the fussier plants fail to thrive. If you want to create a butterfly garden, bluebeard is one of the best plants for attracting these beautiful creatures. But remember that the pollen which attracts butterflies attracts bees as well. This plant is not a good choice for those people with bee allergies.