Spirea - Compact deciduous shrub with dainty twigs and leaves

Part of the You Can Learn Landscaping and Gardening series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, YouCanLearnSeries.com
December 17, 2006

The Spirea comes in many shapes and sizes. From low shrubs that are easy to maintain like the Little Princess and Goldflame Spirea and the beautiful large Vanhouttei. For years we had Vanhouttei spireas in our back yard. The large plants would produce beautiful white flowers that made the plant appear to be covered in snow. Now we own Little Princess Spireas and Goldflame Spireas, that enchant us with color and flowers for 3 seasons.

I recommend you plant your new spireas in spring or fall for best results. You can plant them along borders, to hide foundations or as large hedges to screen fences and neighbors. We used the Vanhouttei to hide our 6 foot back yard fence as this plant can grow to 6 or 7 feet tall. The Little Princess Spirea hides the foundation of our garage along our entry way. In our backyard garden area we utilize the mutlticolored Goldflame Spirea to bring us multi-season joy as we sit on our patio.

We like to keep the Little Princess and Goldflame trimmed down to a manageable size of about 3 feet tall. You could plant these as speciman plants, but there are other plants that should be utilized instead of the spirea.

Plant Spireas in Full Sun or Shade

The interesting thing about these plants is you can plant them in full sun, some sun or even mostly shade. Keep the soil moist, but in a place that is well drained. You can figure to plant the dwarf varieties like the Little Princess and Goldflame spireas 3 to 4 feet apart and the Vanhouttei space 7 to 10 feet between plants.

I never fertilize my spireas, but I do try to water them during the dry season. Usually about an inch of water a week will keep them healthy. Of course, with new plantings, you should water regularly until established.

As I said before, we trim a couple of times a year to keep a balled shape. The Vanhouttei, we let grow all season long to establish the screening of the fence. If you want, cut them all the way to the ground and let them regrow every 3 years or so. Sometimes this helps revive the plant with new growth and more expressive colors.

Perennial Full sun to shade
Cut back when flowers drop moist, well-drained soil
white to pink to rust depending on variety height 3 to 7 feet
Produce flowers all summer width 2 to 3 feet

Click on plant to see larger photo.
The LittlePrincess Spirea has pink and white flowers during the summer.
The Little Princess Spirea is a wonderful foundation plant.


Click on plant to see larger photo.
The Goldflame Spirea shows leaves with many colors from spring to fall.
The GoldFlame Spirea shows pink flowers and has leaves of gold and red in the fall.

The spirea comes in many varieties from the tall Vanhouttei to the dwarf varieties like the Goldflame and Little Princess. Depending on the variety you choose you can find colors of white, pink or golden orange.

The Little Princess stays about 3 feet high by 3 feet wide and produces flowers of pink and white. You will normally see flowers in June and July. The Little Princess Spirea works well as a foundation plant.

The Goldflame Spirea will surprise you with the different looks it gives you throughout the year. The leaves will be gold in spring, a light rust color in summer and then a golden red or orange in fall. It is a deciduous plant. The flowers that you see in summer are a light pink, similar to the Little Princess. This will grow about 3 to 4 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide.

The Vanhouttei Spirea is large and can grow to 7 feet. The SnowMound Spirea also produces white balls of flowers that seem to flow down the blue green leaves.

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