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Deutzia is a beautiful flowering shrub of Asian origin, there are about fifty species, but in cultivation are almost exclusively hybrids, derived from Deutzia glabra, Deutzia created and Deutzia gracilis; they all have beautiful lance-shaped or oval foliage, with a jagged edge and often covered with a thin down, which is produced in spring; the habit is erect, and generally does not exceed two meters in height, but there are numerous prostrate or dwarf hybrids, which remain below 30-50 cm in height.
The reason why we should all have this plant in the garden lies in the incredible flowering: these shrubs produce in late spring (April-May) a profusion of small white star-shaped flowers, delicately scented; particularly striking are the ground cover varieties, which cover lanes and walls of a cascade of white flowers. The most widespread hybrids have pink flowers, of different shades, from pale pink to almost purplish.
These shrubs are characterized by a strong resistance, even in not ideal cultivation conditions, and also in low maintenance gardens; obviously, less care will devote to your plant and less flowers the plant will give you.
They are planted in a good medium-textured soil, fresh and moist, drained enough to have no standing water for long periods of time; prefer to receive at least a few hours a day of direct sun, possibly in the early hours of the day: in areas with torrid summers it is advisable to place it in a semi-shaded area of the garden, to avoid that it is often found in dry conditions.
They support the direct sun and tolerate drought well, but surely a position that gives cool shade for a few hours a day, and an always fresh and humid soil, greatly improve flowering.
They are deciduous plants, which do not require any kind of care during the winter months. In autumn, all branches are clipped to prevent the plant from becoming bare in the lower part, with foliage only at the apex of the branches; this operation also favors the development of many lateral branches, which will bring the flowers the following year. After flowering, action is taken again, removing the branches ruined by the bad weather of the cold season.
From March-April until September it is good to water the deutzia regularly, avoiding leaving it dry for long periods of time, so as to keep the soil always a little wet; however, it is advisable to wait for the soil to dry between two waterings. If spring and autumn are, as usual, quite humid and rainy, we will be able to limit ourselves to watering our deutzia only in the summer months.
At the end of the winter, a slow release granular fertilizer is spread at the foot of the plant, to ensure the correct level of mineral salts in the soil throughout the summer.
Relatives of deutzie
This plant belongs to the genus of hydrangeaceae, or to the same family as hydrangeas; in fact, however, in this family there are two subgenera, the true hydrangeaceae and the philadelphaceae, among which is the deutzia. In the same family we find the philadelphus, a shrub that is often confused with the deutzia, due to the abundant white flowering. We can, however, easily distinguish the two species, first of all due to the bearing and the body of the shrub, since the Philadelphians are vigorous and intrusive, while the deutzie tend to be more compact; in addition to this, the Philadelphians have flowers with four petals, while the deutzias have five petals for each flower.
Anyone who has seen the two plants will find it difficult to confuse them, although it often happens that the hybrids of the two species have a slightly different appearance compared to the species of origin, and therefore they can mislead us.
Also the Philadelphus, commonly called the angel's flower, has deciduous leaves, and spring bloom; also this shrub should never be lacking in a garden, because the flowering is spectacular, very fragrant, and the shrub does not need care, except for pruning at the end of flowering or in autumn, since it tends to widen a lot.
Both deutzie and philadelphi can easily be placed in a flowering hedge, as they form a compact screen over time, and although they lose their leaves in autumn, their intricate and dense branches act as a screen even when the shrub is bare.
A little bit of history
When we go to the nursery we find a large amount of plants, and we often take for granted the fact that these plants are grown in the area where we live; indeed, we often see in nature some plants, which we consider to be native to a place or typical of a certain type of vegetation, so much so that we do not even wonder where they originated from.
In reality many of the plants that we grow in the garden, are not of Italian origin, and very often yet European, but come from distant countries, just think of the mimosas, which have become a symbol of Women's Day, and typical of some areas of Sicily, which instead are originating in Australia, which is not really around the corner.
But, have we ever wondered how it was possible that such plants spread so much in Italy, that they were even considered endemic?
We probably take some plants for granted, such as the agaves of American origin, the carpobrotus that comes from southern Africa, the camellias, coming from China and Japan, for the simple fact that their importation into Europe took place centuries ago, and therefore they are now grown in our continent for a very long time, so much so that they have often naturalized and spread even in nature.
For these daring insertions of plants in our gardens, we should thank some gentlemen who in past centuries traveled around the globe, searching and cataloging all the plants unknown to them, often performing real heroic deeds, traveling by ship in the most inaccessible and unhealthy areas of the earth.
The plant was "discovered" by a certain Carl Peter Thunberg; for lovers of plants and gardens this name does not sound new, for the simple reason that some plants (discovered by thunberg himself or dedicated to him by other botanists) pay homage to him, such as the Berberis thunbergii.
Mr. Thunberg was born in 1743, in Sweden, and was a pupil of Linnaeus himself; during his life he made many trips, especially to Japan (he was one of the first Europeans to be able to travel within Japan) and to South Africa, where he introduced a large number of plants into Europe, such as the Pelargoni, which we all love and cultivate.