Deutzia gracilis is a small growing shrub (2’-5’ tall and wide), native to Japan, that is tolerant of clay soils – which we know all too well about here in Ohio. The largest I’ve ever seen it here was about 3 ½’ around in a New Albany garden where they had amended their soil pretty extensively. It has a white showy bloom in mid to late spring after it has started to leaf out. The leaves are a bright green and serrated along the edge. It’s often trimmed or made into a hedge after blooming, but I think it has a nice natural rounded shape all on its own. The best part – it can take full sun to part shade! No serious pest (including deer!) or disease problems.
This highly under used shrub also comes in a couple of fun varieties.
Deutzia gracilis ‘Duncan’ CHARDONNAY PEARLS is more compact growing to 2’-3’ tall and wide. Also has the white showy bloom in mid to late spring – but instead of bright green leaves, it has showy chartreuse colored leaves. Almost yellow. It too can take full sun to part shade. And no serious pest or disease problems.
Another variety – seen even less often– is Deutzia ‘NCDX2’ YUKI CHERRY BLOSSOM. It’s even more compact only growing 1’-2’ around. It has a pink showy bloom and bright green leaves. Full sun to part shade and no serious pest or disease problems.
At the nursery, we also carry a variety called “NIKKO SLENDER.” It produces lots of tiny, white flowers and is good for small spaces, only getting about 2′ tall. It’s foliage turns burgundy in the fall and can tolerate lots of soils.
Other websites claim no fall color, but I’ve witnessed a nice deep purple in late fall before the leaves drop on my mine. Which is cool. As far as uses go: they make a great informal hedge, look well massed in a garden border or could also be used on a woodland border. It’s a great three season compact shrub.