Slender deutzia (Deuzia gracilis) is a fantastic, but underused deciduous shrub for the sunny to partly sunny landscape. There are several cultivars of Deutzia available, and most produce a profusion of pure white, fragrant flowers during late April and early May. Deutzia will grow well in USDA Zones 5 to 8, which covers most all of South Carolina. In the warmer parts of the state, they will perform best with partial shade.
The sizes of cultivars range from the dwarf selection ‘Nikko’, which grows to 2 or 3 feet tall, to the species that has a mounding limb habit and reaches 3 to 5 feet tall. However, there are a few with pink flower buds, such as ‘Nikko Blush’.
For those interested in larger deutzia specimens for the garden, the fuzzy deutzia (Deutzia scabra) is an upright shrub with arching branches that can grow to 6 to 10 feet tall. The flowers are also white, but the petals are more dissected and have a frilly appearance.
Deutzia is a genus in the family Hydrangeaceae, but have far fewer problems of leaf spots or wilting during the heat of summer than do hydrangeas. Additionally, they are relatively insect pest free and deer resistant. Most species of Deutzia are indigenous to Asia, and these beautiful shrubs were named after Johan van der Deutz, who was a Dutch amateur botanist during the 1700’s. Flowering on all deutzias is on last year’s wood, so pruning out older branches should be done soon after flowering in late spring. They typically are pruned every 2 to 3 years to maintain their nice mounding shape. Propagation is by summer softwood cuttings, which are taken in June or July, and rooting will take place within 3 to 4 weeks.