Shrub of the month - Exochorda

Also known as pearl bush, this is an excellent shrub for an uplifting display of early blossom.  In early April to May, this otherwise unassuming shrub is belle of the ball with a mass of white blossom.  Pretty fresh green foliage then emerges, which turns orange in autumn.

There are various varieties to look out for. Exochorda x macrantha ‘The Bride’ is a medium sized rounded shrub with an arching habit – getting to around 2m tall and wide.  It's often planted alone along a wall or in the garden as a specimen shrub, but it also combines well with other plants in the border, such as Clematis alpina or Clematis macropetala, which can be grown through the shrub and complement each other perfectly.

Exochorda × macrantha 'Niagara’ is a hybrid form which is a cross between E. racemosa and E × macrantha 'The Bride'.  It’s shrubbier and more compact than 'The Bride',  (1.5m) so as well as the border it can be grown in a big pot on the patio.

When planting exochordas, add some well-rotted compost into the planting hole and a sprinkling of mycorrhizal fungi (Rootgrow) to help with root establishment and a mulch of conditioned organic matter around the base of the plant in early spring.  Once established, prune after flowering.

Exochorda can cope with part shade but prefers full sun in moist, well-drained soil.  Prune back by halving the length of the branches, after flowering for a good show of flowers the following year.