Goatsbeard

(Aruncus sp.)

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Plant type: Perennial
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 7

For most of the growing season, goatsbeard is a pleasant-enough plant with light green, fernlike foliage — except in mid to late spring when the creamy-white plumes of tiny flowers appear above the foliage. The flowering period is quite dramatic and lasts for about three weeks.

Cultivation: Grow goatsbeard in a moist, rich, loamy soil. Where summers are warm to hot, give it light shade; in cool-summer climates, goatsbeard can handle part sun. Tall varieties often need to be supported, perhaps with a section of short edger-type fencing; the weight of the blooms often pulls down the stems.

How to use it: Goatsbeard can serve as a dramatic background in perennial gardens. Also great for the edge of naturalized areas near woodlands. In warm climates, it lightens shade gardens, not only when it's in bloom but also because of its lighter-than-usual green foliage.

Selected varieties

 

  • Goatsbeard (A. dioicus). Foliage grows up to 4 feet tall; flowers up to 2 feet above the foliage.

    'Kneiffii" grows to only 3 feet tall.

     

  • Miniature goatsbeard (A. aethusifolius). Grows to about 18 inches tall. Foliage is dark green, and flowers last up to six weeks.
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