Deutzia is a magnificent genus of flowering shrubs that are native to parts of Asia, America, and Europe. There are about 60 species in the genus, with the largest range of species being found in China.
The flower color is primarily white, but certain varieties have clusters of pink-white blooms. There are even hybrids that bear flowers that are deep pink, or pink-reddish and tinged with white.
Whilst the majority of commonly grown species are deciduous, there are also some subtropical varieties that are evergreen.
This perennial shrub is grown as an ornamental plant for its beautiful and spectacular shows of white or pink flowers. Hybridization of the deutzia has produced many cultivars and hybrid varieties, some of which have double flowers.
There are a number of these cultivars and hybrids which have the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Award of Garden Merit and similar American awards.
Unlike many garden plants, the deutzias are a fairly new arrival. Only one variety, Deutzia scabra, was seen in Japan in the 1700s, and this was not introduced to Europe until the mid-1800s.
It was first discovered by the Swedish botanist, Carl Thunberg, who collected large numbers of both plant and animal species that were new to Europe.
Deutzia is named after the Dutch botanist, Johan van der Deutz.
The rest of the deutzia species were not introduced and classified until and after the 1900s.
|Height||3 to 12 feet (3.66 m)|
|Width||3 to 10 feet (3.05 m)|
|USDA Plant Hardiness Zone||Zones 5 to 8|
|Native to||Eastern & Central Asia, Central America, parts of Europe.|
|Blooming season||Spring to Summer|
|Flower colors||White or pink|
|Plant specific features||All year interest, foliage color in fall and peeling, orange colored bark in winter|
How to Plant and Grow a Deutzia Bush
Where to Plant
Deutzia will perform best if planted in a position that is either in full or partial sun. It is in a sunny position that the deutzia will flower most abundantly, but it will also thrive in a more shady location.
It makes a good addition to a woodland garden or as a focal plant in a mixed border. If it is a large plant, then the deutzia shrub can grow as a single specimen plant.
Deutzia shrubs have become popular to grow as indoor pot plants. The smaller varieties do well when planted indoors in containers. They can be placed in conservatories, or on patios.
When to Plant
Plant when the shrub is dormant, so between the late autumn and very early spring. If you plant in the Autumn, then the deutzia can establish its root system before the cold of the winter.
It will then be ready to produce vigorous new growth as soon as the spring arrives.
A container-purchased shrub can be planted at any time of year, though it is best to avoid mid-winter and mid-summer. Extreme temperatures can stress the plant at the time it should be putting its energies into settling into its new growing environment.
Similarly, if you plant in the summer, the watering will be much more onerous. During the plant’s first growing season, you will have to water regularly. The soil around the plant should not dry out whilst it is developing its robust network of roots.
Deutzia Shrubs Care and Maintenance
Soil requirements for deutzia are simple. Just make sure the soil is not flooded and has good drainage.
Deutzias will survive in many types of soil, even those that are not high in nutrients. However, for best results, grow in fertile soil that is neutral to alkaline, such as chalky soil.
In rich, well-drained soil, you will get the best flowers from the deutzia.
When you have planted the deutzia, water it well. A thorough watering at this stage will settle the soil around the roots of the shrub.
It is important that whilst the new deutzia plant is settling in, you water it regularly. This will speed up the shrub’s establishment of a strong root network.
Once the plant is established, watering can be less frequent. During hot spells, avoid watering during the day, and either irrigate early in the morning or during the evenings.
A mature deutzia will cope with drought conditions fairly well.
A pot-grown deutzia will require more frequent watering, even when it is a mature shrub. Pots dry out far quicker than the soil. The confined roots, therefore, have less space from which to be able to absorb moisture from the growing medium.
As soon as the soil appears dry on the surface, you should water your container-grown plant.
Feed annually in the Spring. Select a product that is designed for flowering shrubs. A suitable and timely application of fertilizer will result in a greatly increased flowering show.
As the plant matures, and depending upon the fertilizer product chosen, a second application may be required later in the summer.
A slow-release, balanced fertilizer is a good choice. Always follows the instructions for the dosage amount supplied by the manufacturer.
It is best to refrain from fertilizer application late in the growing season. Fertilizer encourages new growth. Tender new shoots, produced at this time, may not have time to toughen up to survive the onset of winter, particularly if there are early frosts.
In order to maintain the fertility of the soil around the roots of the deutzia, apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant in the early spring.
This will also help to reduce weeds growing at the base of the shrub. When applying the mulch, take care to avoid it touching the stem, or there is a risk of rot.
Plant your deutzia shrub somewhere that is either in full sun or partial shade for the best flowering. Certain varieties tolerate shade better than others, but generally, for optimal flowering and show of fall color, the more sun you provide, the better the display.
Read the instructions on the plant’s care growing label though, as some cultivars and hybrids need a site that is in partial shade to avoid their buds and flowers burning if they get too much sun.
Pruning and Repotting
Deutzias don’t like hard pruning. And, remember, these shrubs bloom on old wood. This means that any pruning must be done as soon as the flowers are finished.
This will give the shrub time to develop their buds in the fall. If you delay pruning, you will lose the following season’s flower buds.
The only real reason to prune a deutzia is to remove dead, diseased, or decaying wood or to restore the plant’s vigorous new growth. Other than for these reasons, it is a shame to prune a deutzia.
You are likely to spoil the natural arching shape of the branches and the plant’s elegant form.
When cutting back the deutzia, always prune from the center of the plant. Cut the unwanted branches back to the ground level.
This will retain the original shape of the plant and keep its attractive shape. New shoots will be encouraged to grow from the base of the deutzia.
There are several ways to propagate a deutzia, from cuttings, by layering low-growing branches, or from seed.
Deutzia seeds can be sown at any time of year, providing they have been cleaned and cold stored beforehand. Use well-drained, sandy compost and cover with a light layer of sand or gritty compost.
Keep the seed trays somewhere cool, and make sure they don’t dry out. The seeds usually germinate in the Spring, regardless of when they are sown. This is because they need a couple of months of cold in order to germinate.
If your deutzia has some low-growing branches, you can propagate the shrub by layering. This involves pegging the low branches into the soil and allowing them to root naturally.
Once the deutzias have been rooted, you can cut them off the parent plant, pot them up and treat them as rooted cuttings.
Propagation is best done by taking cuttings. You can take cuttings of new, soft growth in the early summer, cuttings of semi-ripe wood in the late summer, or even cuttings from woody growth in the Autumn.
The preferred method is by taking softwood (semi-ripe) cuttings in the summer. Once the current season’s growth has begun to turn a little “woody”, take a cutting that is about 5 inches (12.7 cm) long.
Remove the lower leaves from the deutzia cutting, leaving just a top pair or two on the stem. The use of a hormone rooting powder will speed up the rooting process and increase the success rate of your cuttings. Plant the cuttings in a mix of potting compost and sand.
Until the cuttings take root, it is important to keep them in a well-lit place, but out of direct sunlight. They need to be protected from wind and excess rain too. Keep them moist, not allowing the pots to dry out.
Overwinter the cuttings in a sheltered spot, in a cold frame or greenhouse, where they will not be exposed to frost. The following Spring you can transplant the deutzia cuttings into large pots, and by Autumn they will be ready for planting out in open ground.
Pests and diseases
Generally, the deutzia is trouble-free. Deutzia is even considered to be deer resistant. Occasionally, slight damage may be caused to the foliage.
This is likely to be the result of an aphid attack. Leaf spots may also be caused by leaf miners.
Although not serious, you can control the problem with a spray of water from a powerful hosepipe. Failing that, spray the foliage with a mix of soapy water.
Deutzia shrubs are prone to root rot, if they are planted or left in wet soil for extended periods.
Temperature and Humidity
Deutzia shrubs can be grown outside in regions within their hardiness zones. But, if you are in a cooler climate, deutzia is a popular houseplant or a plant for a conservatory.
For indoor planting, a smaller variety is a better choice. Potted up, this plant will look good on a sunny windowsill or in a jardinière.
Outside, you will find that the deutzia is not too demanding. It will withstand a wide range of growing conditions and will survive periods of frost during the winter months.
Deutzia bushes prefer temperatures that fluctuate between mid-cool to warm, but they tolerate extremes of both heat and cold as well.
An established deutzia is fairly tolerant of drought conditions, and its tap roots will be able to absorb sufficient moisture from the ground during prolonged spells.
During periods of wet, humid weather, it is better to refrain from watering your deutzia completely. It will not need supplementary water, and there is a risk that excessive humidity could lead to root rot or fungal disease.
Other Uses for Deutzia
The original species, Deutzia scabra, or fuzzy deutzia has grown in Japan for centuries. Its branches were used by Japanese craftsmen to polish wood.
The deutzia is a shrub that produces flowers that are very attractive to bees.
Certain species have foliage that, when young and tender, can be cooked and eaten.
Types of Deutzia You Can Grow
With such a choice of hybrids and cultivars now commonly in cultivation, you can select a plant that suits your needs and growing environment. Plant size can range from a compact plant that reaches no more than 2 feet (0.61 m), to a large variety that may reach 10 feet tall (3 m).
It is difficult to identify some deutzia species from others, as there are only insignificant differences between them. Some of these differences in structure and leaf hairs are so small that they can only be seen under a microscope.
Fuzzy deutzia (Deutzia scabra) produces abundant clusters of flowers that appear as small, white balls covering the branches. This is a good variety to choose from a shady site, as it will even flower in shade.
A double-flowered variety of D.scabra is known as Deutzia scabra “Plena”. The clusters of white, dense flowers make this a very attractive garden ornamental plant. However, it is not attractive to bees and other pollinators because the double flowers are formed at the expense of the nectar-giving plant parts.
Deutzia “Strawberry Fields” is a taller variety with striking pink and white-tinged flower clusters which will grow to over 6 feet (1.83 m).
Deutzia gracilis is one of the few naturally occurring species and is commonly known as the Slender deutzia or the Japanese snow flower. Slender deutzia or “Nikko” (Deutzia gracilis) is one of the most commonly grown deutzia shrubs.
“Nikko” is a dwarf and compact garden plant that is perfect for a rockery. It won’t grow more than 2 feet (0.61 meters) in height and is a little larger in spread.
Another variety of Deutzia gracilis is deutzia “Chardonnay Pearls”. This is a little taller than “Nikko”, but it too remains compact. It flowers abundantly and has pretty golden yellow foliage that is very colorful in the fall.
Deutzia x lemoinei is a hybrid that has very abundant and very pretty flowers. This cross-bred form, along with many others, was cultivated by the French plantsman, Victor Lemoine.
If you want a shrub that you can grow successfully in shade, and that will flower in a shady location, then a species of deutzia such as Deutzia scabra, maybe a good choice.
Deutzias belong to the hydrangea family and, in common with hydrangea blooms, their apparent large flower heads are actually clusters of small petals.
The striking flowering period lasts only for a couple of weeks, but the deutzia can provide all-year interest. In winter, some species of deutzia reveal a peeling orange-colored bark, and some varieties have foliage that turns red in fall.
To extend the period of color, you can also elect to underplant. Choose bulbs for spring flowering underneath the deutzia and small summer perennials to add color later in the season.
*image by NadyaSo/depositphotos