Aruncus (Goat's beard)


A tall stately perennial that makes a strong statement at the back of the border. Can also be well-placed as an accent or feature plant in a flower bed or along the edge of water.

Family: Rosaceae (Rose)
Botanical Name: Aruncus
Common Names: Goat's beard, buck's-beard, bride's feathers.

Foliage: Deciduous, broad, green fern-like leaves. Turning yellow in autumn.

Flowers: Arching stems topped with creamy white feathery flower plumes (terminal panicles).

Flowering Period: Summer.

Soil: Moist poorly-drained, fertile soil. Clay or loam. Any pH.

Conditions: Partial sun or light shade. Can be planted in a east, west or south facing aspect, in either an exposed or sheltered possition.

Habit: Bushy, clump forming.

Type: Rhizomatous perennial.

Origin: Northern Hemisphere

Hardiness: Fully hardy in all of the UK.

Planting and Growing Aruncus

This vigorous perennial grows particularly well in moist soil conditions, so it's ideal as a marginal plant for the edge of a pond or bog garden. Also well suited to a large border or as a specimen plant in a lawn, so long as the conditions are not too hot or dry.

Plant from October to March. Set plants 2.5ft (75cm) apart, and add plenty of humus to the planting medium. They grow best in a spot that receives some shade during the day.

Although slow to establish, Aruncus will eventually form a large clump, so give them plenty of space.

Taking Care of Aruncus

Needs very little care and attention if the growing conditions are correct. Water well in dry weather.

Pruning Aruncus

Cut the stems down to about an inch (2-3cm) or so above ground level in late autumn, once the flowers have faded.

Pests and Diseases

Generally disease free. Susceptible to attack by sawfly larvae and caterpillars in spring.

Propagating Aruncus

Divide roots in early autumn or spring. Alternatively, sow seed in autumn or early spring in a cold frame. Established plants should produce self-sown seedlings that are easily transplanted.

Popular Varieties of Aruncus Grown in the UK

The main variety is Aruncus dioicus (also known as A. sylvester or A. vulgaris). The male forms are more widely available and generally have the most elegant blooms.

Aruncus dioicus has tall fern-like foliage. Height to 6ft (2m), spread to 4ft (1.2m).

Aruncus dioicus var. aethusifolius is a good dwarf variety that's suitable for the smaller garden. Height and spread to 2ft (60cm).

Aruncus dioicus ‘Kneiffi’ a compact form, with finely cut foliage and wiry stems. Height to 3ft (90cm).