Story and Photos by Norman Winter
A deutzia renaissance is how my friend Dr. Gerald Klingaman, retired horticulturist with the University of Arkansas, wrote about the new love that for this fuzzy heirloom that has been around for ages. If you haven’t re-discovered the old-fashioned fuzzy deutzia then make it a priority, your landscape deserves it.
Klingaman plants his deutzias with azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) to spread out the glorious spring bloom. At the Columbus Botanical Garden we used it against a backdrop of bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), Cryptomeria, and the picturesque dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). The pendulous branches with what seemed like thousands of small white, lightly scented, star-shaped flowers created quite the picture.
It is deciduous, which might be the reason it fell out of favor for a generation or two. But today’s gardeners recognize the beauty of a landscape as the leaves fall, when you’re able to enjoy the form and texture of our plants.
You will need to give them plenty of space to be all they can be. They can reach 10 feet tall and spread 8 feet or more. With a wide range of hardiness zones, 5-8, there will be a fuzzy deutzia blooming somewhere in the United States from April through June.
They prefer fertile well-drained soil and bloom best in full sun. Maintenance is easy. This is a shrub that looks best when allowed to develop naturally. Always prune out dead wood, but if for some reason you find the need to really prune, do so after spring flowering as it blooms on old wood. As the name suggest the leaves are rather rough and slightly hairy on both sides.
They are still sold generically at most garden centers, but you may find a pink selection called ‘Pink Minor’ and an even showier one called ‘Strawberry Fields’. I assure you no matter if you get white generic or a named selection this shrub will be your spring extender or summer welcome.
Quick Facts and Keys to Success
Common Name: Fuzzy deutzia
Botanical Name: Deutzia scabra
Bloom Color: White or pink
Bloom Time: April through June
Type: Deciduous shrub
Size: 8-10 feet tall, up to 8 feet wide
Exposure: Full to partial sun
When to Plant: Spring or summer
How to Plant: Space plants 8-10 feet apart
Soil: Fertile, well-drained
Maintenance: Prune out old or dead wood as necessary.
In Your Landscape: Use as a spring extender with azaleas, Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica) and with early summer bulbs such as Crinum.