The pearlbush (Exochorda x macrantha) is also known as the bride bush. It has dark green leaves and in the spring is covered with white blossoms. The blossom buds look like little bells on the tree. The tree will grow to about ten to fifteen feet and spread out just as wide, so make sure you leave enough room around it to grow without encroaching on the rest of the garden.
Pearlbush prefers a sunny area to grow, but will tolerate partial shade. It also likes rich, loamy soil, but will grow in other soils. It prefers slightly acidic soil. You can make your soil slightly acidic by tilling it to six inches in depth, then spreading three inches of compost on the soil and till that in good. Finally, put a couple of inches of peatmoss on the soil and till it in. This will leave the soil slightly acidic. You should add peatmoss to that flower bed every year to keep the acidity up.
Pearlbush needs a regular schedule of water to thrive. You should water it one inch of water all at once one time a week. Pearlbush needs fertilizer in the spring before new growth begins. Pearlbush should be sheared annually after it finishes blooming. This helps it produce more new growth and hence more flowers.
Pearlbush is considered hardy, heat tolerant, and easy to grow.
There are now hybrid varieties of the pearlbush that do not take up so much room in the garden and look just as nice. The hybrid “Snow Day Surprise” blooms in late spring. First it produces hundreds of buds that look like little bells. After three or four weeks, these open to produce hundreds of flowers. These flowers last two to three weeks. The best thing about this cultivar is that it tops out at around three to four feet. It is perfect for a hedge.
The hybrid “the bride” only grows to a height of six feet and a width of six feet. It is perfect for places that are too large for a dwarf pearlbush but are not big enough for the tall version.
Pearlbush can be propagated by taking five inch cuttings of the new growth on the plant. Make sure you end the cut on a bud node as that is what will eventually turn into the roots. Strip all but the top two leaves from the twig. Dip the cutting in rooting hormone and stick in a sterile potting medium. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. It will take about five months for the stick to root and start growing foliage. You may then transplant it outside or keep it as an indoor plant.
If you plan to transplant the cuttings outside, you will need to harden them off. First put the pots containing the clippings outside for a few hours in the sun. Then bring them out for the rest of the day. Gradually increase the time the pots are outside each day. After about a week, they should be outside all day. They are then ready to be transplanted.