Plant of the Week: Sunshine Blue II Bluebeard

Plant of the Week: Sunshine Blue II bluebeard

January, at least in Michigan, can be dark and dreary. We need sun! While we can't manufacture sunshine here at the nursery, we can produce some cheery, sunny plants. Sunshine Blue® II Caryopteris (bluebeard) is one such plant.

Many of you know the original Sunshine Blue® Caryopteris; it has bright yellow foliage and rich blue flowers with plenty of contrast. If you have the poor taste to cheer for that team over in Ann Arbor, you'll like the combination. Sunshine Blue II bluebeard has that same bold color scheme, but is a hardier plant. It's a little more compact, too.

Sunshine Blue II bluebeard from Proven Winners
Sunshine Blue II Caryopteris forms a tidy 2-3' mound.
Sunshine Blue II bluebeard comes from breeding we did several years ago... and forgot about. We left Caryopteris seedlings on their own in a field for about five years, and when we got around to clearing the field for another group of plants, we found that only two plants had survived. Five years of Michigan winters is a pretty tough test for a Caryopteris. Sunshine Blue II bluebeard is one of those survivors.

Like all Caryoperis, it will do best in well-drained soil and full sun. It is hardy to USDA Zone 5 and grows 2-3' tall and wide. 

Sunshine Blue II bluebeard from Proven Winners
Attractive yellow foliage holds up to the heat of summer and is adorned with vivid blue flowers late in the season.

Deer don't like it!

You all know that deer resistance is relative. They like some plants more than others, but if they get hungry enough they will eventually eat anything. Caryopertis are plants that deer typically don't like. Other unappealing plants include:
  • Abelia 
  • Buddleia (butterfly bush)
  • Berberis (barberry)
  • Buxus (boxwood)
  • Clethra (summersweet)
  • Deutzia 
  • Hibiscus syriacus (rose of Sharon)
  • Microbiota (Siberian cypress)
  • Spiraea (spirea)
  • Syringa (lilac)
  • Viburnum 
  • Weigela 
Sorry, they like roses and hydrangeas.

We refer to the Rutgers University website for their deer-resistance observations. It's a good reference, and I know that our friends in New Jersey have a significant deer population.

Sprays can work, but you need to reapply them. It can be frustrating. Your best option may be hoping to have neighbors who plant things that the deer like more than what is in your yard. Leave a hosta on your neighbor's doorstep this spring!

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles.

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