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Deutzias Dazzle in May

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Deutzia gracilis 'Variegata'All Photo by Todd Lasseigne

Deutzia gracilis ‘Variegata’
All Photo by Todd Lasseigne

Deutzias are among those plants that are passed down from one generation to another, and you often will see them growing in older landscapes or near an abandoned farmhouse. They go unnoticed most of the year, but for a few weeks in May Deutzia dazzles as a striking plant covered in showy white or pinkish flowers borne on upright panicles.

Deutzias are available in many species and hybrids, ranging from small compact forms such as slender deutzia, D. gracilis, to showy deutzia, Deutzia x magnifica, that may reach a mature height of 8 to 10 feet. They are a tough group of plants and bothered by few pests. The larger varieties can become leggy with time, however, so an occasional, heavy cutting-back might be necessary to keep them full and in bounds. Deutzias are related to hydrangeas and grow and flower best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. They thrive in most soil types.

Deutzia gracilis ‘Nikko’ is a compact plant that normally reaches a height and spread of around 3 feet. It has a slender, graceful, arching growth habit and works well as a natural hedge or border to a property. Deutzia scabra ‘Godsall Pink’ can easily reach 6 to 8 feet high and has showy double pink blossoms that can stand up to early hot spells.

Deutzia ningpoensis All Photo by Todd Lasseigne

Deutzia ningpoensis
All Photo by Todd Lasseigne

Deutzia x kalmiiflora features light green foliage that turns dark purple in the fall and reaches 4 to 5 feet in height. Hybrids of D. longifolia and D. discolor produce flowers in various shade of pink or white. Cultivars include ‘Mont Rose’, ‘Magician’, ‘Contraste’, ‘Perle Rose’ and ‘Pink Pompon’.

Showy Deutzia bears beautiful white, double blossoms in dense 1 1/2- to 3-inch-long panicles. Look for cultivars ‘Eburnea’, ‘Latiflora’ and ‘Longipetala’.

You’ll find more than 15 different deutzias at the JC Raulston Arboretum. They are scattered throughout the grounds so wear your walking shoes and bring your camera, pencil and pad to take notes on your favorites. Visit https://jcra.ncsu.edu/ to learn more.

Royce Hardin