Goatsbeard's finely divided green foliage and fluffy plumes of creamy white flowers resemble astilbes. While smaller varieties of goatsbeard are about the same size as smaller astilbes, larger varieties of goatsbeard grow up to 6 feet tall. The plumes that develop in summer are attractive in cut-flower arrangements and dried-flower crafts.
Common name: Goatsbeard
Botanical name: Aruncus spp.
Zones: 3 to 8, depending on species
Size: To 6 feet, depending on species
From: Areas of Europe, Asia, and North America
Family: Rosaceae (rose family)
- Sun: Partial to full shade
- Soil: Moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter
- Moisture: Water during times of drought.
- Mulch: Lay a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch over the soil around the plants. Use winter mulch only after the soil has frozen.
- Pruning: Cut plants back in autumn after freezing temperatures arrive or in spring before plants begin to grow.
- Fertilizer: Fertilizer is not necessary in soils that are rich in organic matter. If desired, use a balanced fertilizer in spring.
- Seed: Sow seed in autumn, either in a cold frame or sheltered spot in the garden.
- Division: Divide goatsbeard in spring or autumn.
- Powdery mildew: This disease tends to appear in mid- to late summer. Infected leaves develop a gray, powdery covering and fall off. To deter the disease, prune the plant to maintain good air circulation and avoid wetting the foliage in afternoons and evenings.
- Slugs/snails: Slugs and snails tend to feed on the leaves at night. To deter them, surround plants with a ring of horticultural-grade diatomaceous earth or slug bait. Some gardeners lay copper strips around plants, but this is not always successful. If slugs are not particularly numerous, set out shallow containers of stale beer at ground level. Slugs will be attracted to the beer, and will crawl into it and drown.
- Aruncus aethusifolius: Grows to about 2 feet tall and has creamy white flowers in summer. Zones 4 to 8.
- Aruncus dioicus: Giant goatsbeard grows to about 6 feet tall and has creamy white flowers in summer. Zones 3 to 7. Native to areas of North America.