Monday 21 October 2019

'Rediscovered' Deutzia is a summer treasure

Gerry Daly

THOUGH not blessed with the most wieldy of names, Deutzia is quite a popular garden shrub and, as shrubs are being 'rediscovered' these days, it has begun to get more attention, and rightly so, because this is a fine shrub for a rush of soft colour in the coming weeks.

Deutzia gets its name from that of an 18th-Century Dutch naturalist, Johann van der Deutz. It is in the hydrangea family, native to China, and with many varieties bred in France.

The shrub is generally of medium size, though it can easily grow to two metres or a bit more in some varieties. The best sorts have been selected for their relatively small size. The usual kind seen is Deutzia x rosea, a compact and rounded bush, covered with small sprays of starry pink flowers.

One of the best is 'Mont Rose', which is vigorous with erect, then arching, stems and beautifully covered with soft pink flowers. 'Perle Rose' is another of these hybrids with light pink flowers, a graceful plant. 'Rosealind' has white flowers, flushed pink. 'Joconde' is white.

The latest on the scene is 'Strawberry Fields' which has open slightly nodding flowers, rich pink with a white edge to the petals that gives a lively appearance. At first, its leaves are yellowish green which makes a strong combination with the rich pink flowers.

Most of these varieties are upright in growth with the shoots arching out at the top. Some arch more than others and some can be a bit shapeless but they can be pruned to improve their looks, and to keep them to a manageable size.

This is done immediately after flowering in early summer. Some of the older shoots should be cut out low down to encourage new young growth. Choose the worst-placed shoots to take out, thus improving the shape. Other flowered shoots can be shortened back a bit to make the growth more bushy.

Do not be tempted to clip with a hedge-clippers as this will tend to make a rounded bush without its natural arching character, and also tends to reduce flowering as the older shoots are not removed. The plant is hardy and easy to grow.

It does best in a sunny spot in good soil that does not dry out too much in summer, not too close to the competition of roots of bigger shrubs or trees. It can take some light shade but the more sunshine, the better the flowering.

Irish Independent

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