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Add Touch of Nostalgia With Spireas

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'Goldflame' SpireaPhoto by Robert E. Lyons

‘Goldflame’ Spirea
Photo by Robert E. Lyons

Spireas are a lovely addition to any springtime garden. They add a touch of nostalgia, yet they also look good in contemporary gardens. The classic bridal wreath spirea, with its spectacular pure white flowers that burst from tiny deciduous stems, is a favorite and a signal that spring is around the corner.

In the Rosaceae family, the 12 Spiraea species offer a number of varieties and crosses with interesting foliage, flowering habit and color. Most prefer full sun to light shade with regular to moderate watering. They grow across the U.S. with adaptable species able to survive climatic zones 3 to 8.

Spireas tolerate many soils except those that are extremely wet. They may be prone to summer heat and drought damage, especially if they receive too much sun or if they are on light, sandy soils found in coastal areas. Mulching and tending to their critical watering needs in the summer will ensure their survival. Fall is the best time to plant but they may be planted in the spring as well. They generally hold up well to insect and disease pests. There may be occasional problems with aphids and some caterpillars.

'Gold Mound' SpireaPhoto by Robert E. Lyons

‘Gold Mound’ Spirea
Photo by Robert E. Lyons

This plant grows quickly. Prune the spring-blooming types after they flower and the summer-blooming ones in winter or early spring. Thin out old and weak canes to the ground. Remove faded, mature flowers on summer-blooming spireas to rejuvenate with a second flush of flowers.

Among the many varieties to plant are the dainty ‘Little Princess’ with light pink flowers; the larger repeat-blooming ‘Anthony Waterer’; and ‘Goldflame’ with tiny red leaves that turn golden yellow in the fall and bloom with tiny pink flowers in the spring.

In addition to ‘Little Princess’, the JC Raulston Arboretum (JCRA) in Raleigh has 14 other cultivars of Spiraea japonica alone. Talk about incredible variety in one place! See these and many other spireas at the JCRA, with many nocated in the eastern section. Visit to learn more.

David Barkley