Spirea 101: Ultimate Guide to Planting, Growing, Pruning and More

Spirea deciduous shrubs are popular in gardens and landscapes for their attractive flower clusters and graceful arching branches. They are versatile. In the garden landscape, Spirea emerges as a floral masterpiece, captivating outdoor spaces with its presence.

These ornamental shrubs include a wide variety of species and their varieties differ from each other in color, form, and blooming pattern but also have many similarities. The common name for the shrub belonging to the Spiraea genus is “Spirea”. The name is often spelled in various ways, including “Spiraea” or “Spirea“. Different species and varieties within the Spirea genus may have specific common names.

At a Glance

Common Name:Spirea (sometimes spelled ‘Spirea’), Meadowsweets, or Steeplebushes
Native to:Varies by species; some are native to Asia, North America, and Europe
Plant Type:A woody shrub, Perennial
Hardiness Zone:4-9, Some varieties can be tolerant of extreme heat or cold
Light:Full sun
Soil Type:Loamy, Moderate Fertility, Well-draining
Soil pH:6-7, neutral to slightly acidic
Water Needs:Average
Height:2-8 feet, depending on variety
Spread:Up to 8 feet; depending on the variety
Spacing:2-15 feet, depending on variety
Flower Color:Pink, purple, rosy red, white flowers
Foliage Color:bright to dark green leaves that turn orange, purple, and red in autumn
Bloom Time:Spring blooming varieties flower May-June, summer blooming varieties July-September
Season of InterestSpring to Fall
Tolerance:Drought once established, deer
Pests & Diseases:Aphids, spider mites, powdery mildew
Companion Planting:Roses, Hosta, Daylilies
Uses:Mixed beds, containers, edging, hedges, rockeries
Attracts:Bees and butterflies

Why choose Spirea for your garden?

Spirea is a versatile shrub that is quite popular among gardeners. Many reasons make it a preferred choice. These are shrubs that remain an ideal choice for both novice and experienced gardeners. Let us now see what are the reasons why you should choose Spirea for your garden…

  1. They are grown quite easily,
  2. It is known for its low-maintenance nature,
  3. They can thrive in different climates,
  4. Combined with a wide range of species and varieties, they prove useful in a variety of landscape schemes,
  5. Has the potential to provide year-round visual interest,
  6. From the delicate flowers of spring to the fiery foliage of autumn, these shrubs undergo captivating changes, keeping your garden vibrant and dynamic throughout the season,
  7. Some varieties add texture and character in winter with decorative bark, etc.
  8. From hedge borders to standalone focal points, these shrubs easily integrate into a variety of landscape concepts.

The diverse range of species, along with their year-round appeal and adaptability, positions Spirea as an ideal choice for those looking to enhance the aesthetics of their outdoor spaces.

Planting Spirea

Planting Spirea (Spirea 101: Ultimate Guide to Planting, Growing, Pruning and More)When to plant

Autumn is the ideal time to plant most varieties of spirea in most areas. On the other hand, some varieties of these plants can also be planted in spring.

In areas with harsh winters, it is generally best to plant about six weeks before the area’s first average frost date. This way the plants get time to establish before winter.

Where to plant

Choose a sunny place where it gets about 6 hours of sunlight. Morning sunlight and light shade in the afternoon is the key to it giving more flowers. Spring flowering varieties can tolerate light shade. The soil needs to have good drainage.

How to plant

Dig a hole twice as deep and twice as wide or slightly wider than the root ball of the spirea bush. Remove the plant from the nursery pot and gently loosen the soil from the roots. Now place the root ball in the hole and fill it with soil. Also, add a layer of 2 to 3 inches of manure in it. However, the instructions given on fertilizer may vary, and use them accordingly. Now add water slowly and keep watering it regularly until it is properly established.

On the other hand, while planting several plants nearby, keep in mind the distance between two plants. Most of the time it depends on a few things. Like how tall those plants are when fully grown and how much space they require. Or what use you are putting them to. Depending on the varieties, the distance between them should be about 2 to 15 feet.

Growing Tips

Spirea does not require much care and is easy to grow. But some basic needs must be fulfilled.

Spirea Growing TipsLight

Spirea, in its various species, generally thrive in full sun to light shade. While some varieties can tolerate partial shade. Adequate sunlight is necessary for their strong growth and abundant flowering. Spirea likes a balance of morning sun and afternoon shade and avoids extreme heat stress.

It is good to understand the variety-specific requirements of Spirea when it comes to lighting, as they can vary. Generally, spring flowering plants are better suited to partial shade. Whereas plants that flower in summer need more sun.


Spirea plants do not grow well in wet soil, they need well-drained soil. If the soil is clay, add organic matter to it for better drainage. Soil with neutral or slightly acidic pH and average fertility is a key element for its best performance.


Spirea grows well in most areas. These are generally hardy to zones 4 through 9. While some varieties are hardy to zone 3, some are also tolerant of extreme heat.


They do not need any special care in cold or hot weather. So you don’t need to worry. Spirea is a deciduous plant. This causes them to lose their leaves during the cold winter months. On the other hand, in very hot weather, check that the soil is dry and add water if necessary. Instead of watering little by little several times, consider watering deeply at once.


Spireas are generally not heavy feeders and over-fertilizing should be avoided as this can harm them. Control-free fertilizer formulated for trees and shrubs (follow product label directions) should be applied in early spring. This covers their needs for the entire year and you will need to repeat the process only next year, not before that.


Apply a 2 to 3-inch-thick layer of organic mulch once every year. This helps plants maintain soil moisture, control soil temperature and suppress weeds. As organic mulch, you can use triple shredded bark, pine needles, pine bark shreds, or any other. Take care that the mulching does not cover the trunk of the bush.

Pruning Spirea

Pruning is an important maintenance procedure for Spirea. If done at the right time, it will have a good effect on flowering. These are fast-growing shrubs and hence require severe pruning from time to time.

Pruning SpireaKeep these things in mind while sorting.

  • Use clean and sharp pruning tools to make precise cuts without causing unnecessary damage to the plant.
  • Cut at a 45-degree angle just above a bud or side branch to encourage healthy regrowth.
  • Avoid heavy pruning in late summer or fall, as this can destroy potential flower buds for the next season.
  • Summer bloomers tend to grow more, so they may require more vigorous pruning.

For spring-flowering varieties, prune them after flowering by cutting off the flower tips at the top leaves. In this way the chances of flowering for the second time increase. The flowers on these varieties appear on old growth from the previous year.

Summer-flowering varieties, on the other hand, flower on new woody growth that same year. Therefore, it is advisable to prune them in winter after flowering.

The best time to prune spirea for maximum flowering

It is important to prune the spirea at the right time to encourage abundant flowering and maintain the overall health and shape of the bush. Pruning times vary depending on the specific type of spirea you have. Here are general guidelines for pruning spirea to maximize flowering:

1. Spring Blooming Spirea:

For spring-blooming spirea varieties, such as Spirea japonica, the optimal time for pruning is from late winter to early spring, (ideally in March or early April), which is before new growth begins.

This allows the shrub to produce new stems and flower buds for the current growing season. Pay attention to removing dead, damaged, or weak wood, as well as any stems that are crowding the plant. Lightly shaping the bush at this time promotes a compact and well-branched form.

2. Summer Blooming Spirea:

For summer-blooming Spirea varieties, such as Spirea bumalda and Spirea x vanhoutei, the best time to prune is from late winter to early spring, just before new growth emerges.

These varieties bloom on the current season’s growth, so pruning in early spring encourages the growth of new flowering branches. Remove about one-third of the oldest stems at ground level to rejuvenate the plant and encourage growth.

3. Repeat Blooming Spirea:

Some spirea varieties, such as Spirea japonica ‘Magic Carpet’ and Spirea x bumalda ‘Goldflame’, are repeat bloomers, producing flowers on both old and new wood. To maximize flowering, prune these varieties in late winter or early spring.

Overwintering Spirea

Spireas are hardy and able to withstand winter easily. Although they do not require any special care in winter, some steps can be taken.

If Spirea bushes are well established and well cared for, they will handle the winter comfortably. To make them last, water the soil deeply the week before the first frost. Apart from this, a good layer of mulch is effective in maintaining heat in cold temperatures, which you should use.

Potting and Repotting Spirea

Potting and Repotting Spirea (Spirea 101: Ultimate Guide to Planting, Growing, Pruning and More)
Source: Spirea by The Greenery Nursery is licensed under CC BY 4.0 from Flickr

Spireas are growing plants and they also spread as they grow tall. Therefore, while potting or repotting, it is better to choose a slightly larger container. A pot that is about 8 inches or more wider than the root ball is considered the right size. Also, the pot should have good drainage. Choose potting soil for overall plant growth and good drainage. If necessary, add one to two handfuls of perlite to it. Keep it in a place with full sun and keep checking the moisture of the soil from time to time. If the soil above the pot is dry for about 2 inches, then water it.

Spirea Pests, Diseases, and Their Treatments

Spireas generally do not face much danger from pests and diseases and are capable of fighting them. But they have to be saved from some things.


Aphids and spider mites can occasionally bother them. To get rid of these, spray water on the upper and lower parts of the leaves and stems. If no improvement is seen, horticultural insecticidal soap or neem oil spray can be used and these are also effective. Check for insects periodically. If signs of insects are seen, use insecticides, etc. again.


A type of fungus known as powdery mildew attacks the leaves and flowers of plants. As a result, plant growth is stunted and should be remedied quickly.

The cause of this disease is lack of sunlight, excessive moisture, and obstruction of air circulation in plants due to too close planting. Eliminate these shortcomings as much as possible. If the problem persists, remove the infected parts or use fungicide.

How to Propagate Spirea

Spirea is a gorgeous bush and is easy to grow and care for. Similarly, it is also very easy to propagate. However, there are many ways to propagate Spirea. This includes many options like softwood cutting, hardwood cutting, splitting, etc. How to Propagate Spirea
The easiest of these methods is to propagate spirea from softwood cuttings and that is what we are talking about here.

  • The best time to propagate spirea through softwood cuttings is mid to late summer.
  • At this time its stems have all the qualities which are necessary for their reproduction. Like, they are soft, bend easily, and break with shock.
  • Cut a flexible 6 to 8-inch stem from the plant and remove the lower leaves.
  • Dip the bottom section opposite the top into rooting hormone powder.
  • Fill the potting mixture in a six-inch pot with good drainage and moisten it.
  • Plant 4 to 5 stems in each such pot cover it with a plastic bag and seal it. This will maintain moisture in the pot and help the roots grow.
  • Keep the pot in a shady place and check the moisture once or twice a week. If moisture is low then water as required.
  • In about 1 month, some new leaves will appear which indicates that the roots have emerged and are healthy. When this happens, remove the cover.
  • Let them grow for some time. Before winter arrives, protect all the newly grown plants by planting them in separate pots.
  • These plants will be ready for planting in the soil in the coming spring.

Uses of Spirea in The Garden

Spireas are valued for their texture, design, and flowers and are liked by gardeners for many such qualities. While these are used in many ways. As

  • A specimen plant,
  • An excellent foundation,
  • In mixed perennial beds,
  • In large groups for edging or hedges,
  • As a defense,
  • When applied collectively as a screen,
  • As a double living wall on either side of the stairs,
  • Border,
  • Container,
  • Groundcovers,
  • Low hedges along paths and footpaths and in rockeries.
  • Spirea flowers attract butterflies and spireas are generally deer resistant.

Types of Spirea

There are many varieties of Spirea which are full of diversity and curiosity. But it is a bit difficult to explain and provide information about 100 varieties in one place. So here are some of the most popular and effective spirea varieties that will be suitable for your garden or landscape.

Japanese Spirea (Spiraea japonica) or (Japanese Meadowsweet)

Japanese Spirea (Spiraea japonica) or (Japanese Meadowsweet)The Japanese Spirea is a variety that is, in many ways, the most versatile of the Spireas. There is diversity in the form of the color of flowers and the design of leaves etc. Its hardy zone is 3 to 8.

Most plants of this variety flower from late spring to mid-summer. These flowers include pink, purple, and pink-red flowers that bloom in clusters. Whereas the leaves are green in color with a striped texture.

In terms of size, Japanese Spirea has varieties for almost every kind you need. Some dwarf varieties that do not grow more than 3 feet tall. Then come smaller growers that grow 3 to 5 feet tall. and finally, specimens growing 5 to 8 feet tall.

These are dense and spherical bushes in which flowers appear on new growth. These flowers should be cut back in winter or very early spring.

Japanese Spirea is used in many ways. They can be grown as foundation or specimen plants, in beds, large containers, mixed-shrub landscapes, as a low border, or in hedges. Plus they are deer-resistant and attract butterflies.

Bridalwreath Spirea, (Spiraea prunifolia)

Bridalwreath Spirea, (Spiraea prunifolia)Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia) is a deciduous shrub. It is a medium-sized shrub with an erect, arching habit. In early spring, while the leaves have yet to emerge, thick spikes of flowers appear in abundant clusters on their bare branches. Bridal wreath spirea is very popular because of these beautiful flowers blooming on arching stems.

These flowers are small, double-petaled, and white. Their leaves are oval, 1 to 3 inches long, finely serrated, and green in color. Whereas in autumn they turn into an attractive yellow-orange or purple-brown color.

Belonging to the fast-growing shrubs and larger species of Spirea, Bridal Wreath Spirea grows with a spread of 6 to 8 feet and loose, fountain-like growth. Whereas it is 4 to 8 feet high. They usually reach their full size within a single growing season.

This variety, which flowers on old wood, is hardy in zones 3 to 8. Whereas it can be grown in average soil. It requires a location in full sun and will tolerate some shade. Once established, can tolerate even emergent drought.

These should be cut immediately after flowering. They are deer-resistant and attractive to butterflies. While they can be used primarily as borders, foundations, hedges, and sunny landscape margins.

Birchleaf (Spiraea betulifolia)

Birchleaf (Spiraea betulifolia)
Source: Spiraea betulifolia by Peganum is licensed under CC BY 4.0 from Flickr

Birchleaf Spirea is another great variety that gardeners often love.

This bush is dense and round. Whereas it is 3 to 4 feet long and wide. Birchleaf spirea are hardy in zones 4 through 8 while some can also be hardy in zones 3 and 9.

It blooms from late spring to early summer and looks great with blooms throughout the summer. Their flowers are small and white and come in groups and the leaves are round and birch-like, whose color is green. The view of the leaves becomes even more interesting in winter when they turn orange, purple, and red.

Prune lightly after flowering to encourage reblooming. Like other spirea varieties, birchleaf spirea are deer-resistant and attractive to butterflies. On the other hand, they are used to create an attractive foundation or specimen plant. It is also suitable for use in beds, groups, and rockeries.

‘Little Princess’ Spirea

'Little Princess' Spirea
Source: Pink Spirea detail, “Little Princess” by  is licensed under CC BY 4.0 from Flickr

Little Princess Spirea is one of the few flowering shrubs that grows throughout the United States. Their best performance is seen in zones 4 to 9. This deciduous shrub is popular for adding color, texture, and richness to the landscape.

The soft pink flowers appear in clusters in late spring and last through the summer. If a little maintenance effort is made it will bloom again. Their leaves are green and dense. When mature it is approximately 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

Once established it becomes cold and drought resistant. Maintenance requirements are very low. Prune immediately after blooming to encourage continued and reblooming ability.

This deciduous shrub is insect, disease, and deer-resistant. It’s tall enough to be a stunning focal or specimen plant, but short enough to make for an attractive border.

Companion Plants for Spirea

Spirea has many companion plants that are grown near each other. The main condition for growing together is that the needs of other bushes or plants should be similar or almost similar. Being a hardy plant, Spirea grows well in most parts of the world but other plants may not have the same nature. That is why some specific plants have received the title of companion plants of Spirea. These include:

Juniper Shrubs

Juniper Shrubs (Companion Plants for Spirea)A popular ornamental garden plant with colors ranging from blue to shimmering gold. In size, varieties range from low-ground juniper bushes just 6 inches tall to towering juniper trees 130 feet tall. The many varieties of juniper can meet the needs of every landscape. With its four-season interest, ability to grow in most regions, and easy care, this shrub can be considered for growing with Spirea.

Russian Sage

Russian sage is a perennial shrub that is considered drought-tolerant. This bush, which has grayish-green leaves on silvery-white stems, bears purple flowers in the summer and fall gardens.

Russian sage is easy to grow and is cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9. It grows best in warm climates and can grow in clay or average soil, provided drainage is good. Also requires full sun. Suitable for planting with Spirea, featuring low maintenance, showy tubular flowers.


HostaHosta plants, also known as plantain lilies, are shade-tolerant and prefer moist soil. These are versatile perennials that add beauty and elegance to every garden. There are many varieties of these and they are liked by gardeners because of their excellent leaves.

They like partial to full shade. While hoping for well-drained soil and protection from strong winds. Spirea well fulfills the needs for shade and protection from winds. Therefore, Hosta becomes a companion plant to Spirea.

Daylilies and Siberian Iris

Growing Daylilies in Pots (Potting and Repotting)Daylilies and Siberian iris are also companion plants for spirea. Like Spirea, both these plants also like moist soil and full sun. But sometimes the spirea grows big and starts casting shade on fellow plants. For this, create beds by planting at a sufficient distance.


Lily is considered another excellent companion plant for Spirea. These are usually grown at a time when the spirea are dormant. They are planted close together for design and texture but avoid planting too close when planting. This is because they fight each other for the same sunlight and nutrients.


There are some other plants and shrubs which are also counted as companion plants of Spirea. In brief, their names are as follows…

  • Rhododendron
  • Lavender
  • Hylotelephium spectabile
  • Mahonia
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Daisy
  • Viburnum
  • Azalea
  • Aster
  • Columbine
  • Mint
  • Chives
  • Blueberry

Frequently Asked Questions About Spirea Shrubs

Q1. What does the spirea symbolize?

Spirea holds diverse symbolism in different cultures and contexts. It has symbolic importance in many ways. As,

      • Symbol of romantic elegance and purity. In many cultures, spirea is associated with weddings and the enduring beauty of love.
      • Symbolizes the beauty of renewal and change.
      • Symbol of harmony and balance.
      • Flexibility and adaptability
      • In Japanese culture, spirea (known as yukiyanagi) is associated with sacredness and is often planted near religious sites.
Q2. Is Japanese Spiraea edible?

While Japanese Spirea (Spirea japonica) is grown primarily for ornamental purposes and is not traditionally considered a food source, it is important to note that the edibility of plants varies depending on factors such as species, variety, and cultivation methods. But may vary.

Japanese Spirea is not commonly consumed as a food. It is appreciated primarily for its ornamental qualities, including its clusters of small, pink, or white flowers and finely textured leaves.

Q3. Does Spirea smell good?

In general, the scent of spirea is described as delicate, sweet, and pleasant. The fragrance is not as intense as some other flowering shrubs. However the aroma of Spiraea can vary depending on the different species and varieties.

If scent is an important factor in plant selection for you, you should experience the scent firsthand before making a decision. It’s a good idea to visit a local nursery or garden center for this.

Q4. Is Spiraea a shrub?

Yes, Spirea comes under the category of shrubs. Spirea is a genus of deciduous or, in some cases, semi-evergreen shrubs. These shrubs are valued for their attractive, often cascading flower clusters and graceful arching branches.

Spirea shrubs are known for their versatility and come in a variety of species and varieties, each with its unique characteristics.

Q5. How fast does spirea grow?

The growth rate of spirea can vary depending on factors such as the specific species or variety, environmental conditions, and care provided. Spirea is a relatively fast-growing shrub, especially during its early years of establishment.

While keeping in mind that plants can slow down their growth rate as they mature. Regular pruning is often beneficial for shaping and rejuvenating the plant. It can also affect the overall development pattern.

For specific information regarding the growth rate of a particular spirea variety, it is recommended to consult nursery or plant supplier specifications.

Q6. Is Spirea deciduous?

Yes, Spirea is generally deciduous, meaning it loses its leaves in the fall. The deciduous nature of Spirea is characteristic of the many species and varieties within the Spirea genus. Deciduous plants typically go through a seasonal cycle of growth, flowering, leafing out, and then shedding of leaves during the fall months.

Q7. Is Spirea deciduous?

Yes, Spirea is generally deciduous, meaning it loses its leaves in the fall. The deciduous nature of Spirea is characteristic of the many species and

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