Old-time pearl bush (Exochorda racemosa) is a lovely old pass-along plant.
Straight from our grandmother’s yard, this old shrub is always dependable. Mine was only slowed down a bit by the ice storm, but now two weeks later is bursting with bloom. It is called pearl bush because the little round white buds resemble pearls and were as close to pearls as many of our ancestors ever came.
Pearl bush is a large upright shrub that puts down deep roots, making it able to weather our hottest driest summers without a hitch. Blooming in middle to late March alongside bridal wreath and daffodils, pearl bush is truly lovely. Anything that can weather a March ice storm and come out none the worse is a plant for me.
Pearl bush makes seeds that drop around under the bushes and I always have seedlings to share. I have never found them seeding out to the point of being a nuisance though.
Pearl bush does best in lots of sun, but does well in my shady woodland area where it gets lots of sun in winter and dappled shade in summer.
Growing up to 8 or more feet tall and 3 or more feet wide, pearl bush is a nice addition to a perennial border. I have often seen it growing near old house places where it continues to grow and bloom even after many years of abandonment.
Just plant it. Once pearl bush is rooted in well, you do not have to do a thing but watch it bloom every spring —- without fail.
Dee Bishop is a Smith County Master Gardener. She writes about plants growing within the Tyler Rose Garden.