An excellent background plant! Bushy, upright and clump-forming. Dark green foliage contrasts beautifully with the feathery clusters of white flowers, which some say resemble the beard of a host (thus the common name).
As the botanical name suggests, male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. The creamy white flowers on the male plant are showier with numerous stamens per flower while the greenish white female flower has 3 stamens.
Attracts butterflies. Larval host for the dusky azure.
Provide rich moist soil in partial shade. Foliage decline can occur rapidly if soils are permitted to dry out. Can grow in full sun but only with consistent moisture. Plants can be slow to establish, but worth the wait! Prune the plant back after it flowers to promote bushy growth. Spreads slowly by rhizomes. May self-seed if both male and female plants are present, but not very aggressively. Bigger by just a smidge than our native astilbe, Astilbe biternata, which is similar in appearance and is deer resistant, where A. dioicus is not. Site thoughtfully; transplanting after establishment is difficult.
Height: 4-6 ft.
Spread: 2-4 ft.
Bloom time: April to May
Sun: full sun to part shade
Water: medium to wet
According to Rutgers University, Aruncus sp. are “occasionally severely damaged” by deer
photo credit: Syrio