Spirea Propagation Methods

Why buy spirea from the nursery when it can be propagated in the home garden? Although the process of propagating spirea is a bit time consuming, it isn’t particularly difficult. Here are some of the most common spirea propagation methods.

Propagating Spirea from Hardwood Cuttings

Spirea is a woody landscape plant that is best propagated using a type of stem cuttings known as hardwood cuttings. The best time to make the hardwood cuttings is when the shrub is in the dormant period – late fall after the first hard frost or early winter, or in early spring.

According to gardening experts, spirea cuttings can vary in length from 4 to 24 inches, depending on variety. Most, however, will probably be in the 4- to 10-inch length. Make the cuttings in the early part of the day. As for which part of the plant to choose for the cuttings, always aim for the upper area of the shrubs. Avoid those that have spindly or weak stems as well as those with vigorous growth.

Making the Cut and Storing or Planting Information

Slant the cut below a node with a clean, sharp knife. Aim for a 4-inch length for each cutting, especially if making numerous cuts. If the cuttings will be stored over the winter, experts recommend tying them together and placing in a cool, moist environment until the following spring. Place in a water-filled bucket and cover with plastic, store in a nursery cooler, a cellar or basement where temperatures remain about 40 degrees, or bury them outside in sawdust, sand or sandy soil (place them upside down to encourage rooting at the base). In the spring, cuttings stored outside can be directly planted in soil, right-side up.

Cuttings from easily reproducing plants such as spirea can be wrapped in plastic or heavy paper with lightly moistened peat moss and stored in a cool place (40 degrees) until spring.

When planting cuttings, garden experts recommend setting them in the soil with the top up and at an angle of 45 to 60 degrees. They should be buried to within 1 inch of the top. In addition, use a rod or other garden implement to make the holes, so that the roots won’t be damaged when placing them in the soil.

Keep the newly-planted cuttings protected by a shade material such as a burlap screen during the first growing season.

Softwood Cuttings

Spirea from softwood cuttings can be taken in the spring and summer from new growth. Strip off the lower leaves and dip the cutting in rooting hormone and place in planting medium such as vermiculite or construction-grade, coarse sand. Cover with plastic and keep moist. After cuttings have rooted (roots are about 1-inch in length), they are ready to be transplanted to other pots with a growing medium.

Propagation by Division

Another method of propagating spirea is by division, which should be done in the fall or during the dormant period. Due to the fibrous root structure of this woody plant, a hatchet or shovel may be required to cut through the clump. Be sure to trim back the shoots and cut off any damaged roots before planting.

Dividing spirea may be desirable after several years when the shrub has become firmly established and may be overgrowing its surroundings.

Japanese Spiraea

Propagation of Spiraea

By Derek Devine


The purpose of this web page is to give information about the propagation, use, location, and culture of Spiraeas.Also, I will include some examples of the many cultivars of Spiraeas.Since most spiraeas are native to central and East Asia, I will focus on the Japanese Spiraea—Spiraea japonica.


DEFINITION:any plant of the genus Spiraea, Northern Hemisphere deciduous shrubs of the family Rosaceae (rose family). Most are indigenous to central and E Asia, whence come most of the popular ornamental species, e.g., the bridal wreath (S. x prunifolia), native to Japan, and its similar hybrid S. vanhouttei. In these species the fragrant, spirelike flower clusters typical of the genus are borne on long, arching branches. Spiraeas native to North America include the hardhack, or steeplebush (S. tomentosa), a local source of astringent and tonic, and the meadowsweets (several species). The name meadowsweet is also applied to the related genus Filipendula, tall, hardy perennials (also often cultivated) formerly classified as Spiraea because of the similar showy blossoms. Filipendula includes the Eurasian dropwort (F. hexapetala), the queen of the meadow (F. ulmaria), now naturalized in the United States, and the North American queen of the prairie (F. rubra). Spiraeas are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Rosaceae.

(The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition)


Japanese spiraea is an erect, multi-stemmed deciduous shrub that gets 2-6′ tall with a similar spread. The slender reddish brown stems may be hairy or glabrous. They bear alternate ovate leaves that are 1-3″ long and usually paler on their undersides. The leaves have toothed margins, wedge-shaped bases, and pointed tips. Leaf color varies from chartreuse to blue-green to bronze, orange, red, or burgundy with variety and season. Flat-topped clusters (corymbs, to be technical) of pink flowers are displayed at the tips of the wiry branches. In the most common forms, the pink color results from a mix of light and dark pink that gives the blossom a pixilated appearance. Small capsules hold seeds about 1/10 inch long. The species Spiraea japonica is an upright shrub, 4-6′ tall.


Bumalda spirea (cv. ‘Bumalda’), Spreading shrub, only 2-3′ tall
‘Alpina’ or Daphne spirea Low, dense, spreading, slow-growing groundcover type with pink flowers and small bluish-green leaves that turn red and orange in fall;
‘Magic Carpet’ Compact shrub that has dark pink flowers and leaves that emerge red, mature to bronze, then change to deep red in the fall;
‘Neon Flash’ Rosy-red-flowered 4′ shrub with leaves that start out reddish and retain a purplish tinge;
‘Shibori’ or peppermint stick spirea Low mound-shaped shrub that bears multi-colored white, pink, and red flowers all summer;
‘Anthony Waterer’ 2-3′ bush with maroon-tinged foliage and reddish-pink flowers
‘Dolchica’ 2′ shrub with bright pink flowers and deeply incised leaves that emerge purple
‘Froebelii’ Especially cold-tolerant (to Zone 3) variety that has purplish new growth and produces rosy-pink flowers off-and-on through the early summer
‘Goldmound’ Compact 1-3′ pink-flowered shrub with creamy chartreuse-yellow foliage that turns rusty gold with red tips in the fall.


Not surprisingly, Japanese Spiraea comes from Japan. It also is considered native to Korea and China. It has naturalized in North America from New England south through the Appalachians into Tennessee and Georgia, and west to Indiana. Japanese Spiraea usually grows along stream bottoms and on seepage slopes, but readily invades forest edges and openings, old fields, roadsides, and utility rights-of-way.


Japanese spiraea will grow in a wide variety of soils, including those on the alkaline side, but it prefers a rich, moist loam. These shrubs appreciate manure and thrive on organic mulch. Since they bloom on the current season’s growth, Japanese Spiraea should be pruned in winter or early spring. They can be cut all the way to the ground. After the flowers fade, shear them off to stimulate a second flush of growth and more flowers. Mowing will control expansion of a planting, but the stems will re-sprout, so repeated cutting will be a long-term necessity. Spiraeas may suffer minor damage from a variety of pests and diseases, but they are not prone to any major problems. Aphids occasionally are a nuisance in the spring.


Japanese spiraea reproduces aggressively in the wild. A single plant can produce hundreds of seeds that remain viable and persist in the soil for many years. Typically the seeds are dispersed by water and deposited along stream banks. They also are distributed in fill dirt. In cultivation, sucker division or softwood cuttings rooted under mist in a warm place during the summer usually propagate Japanese Spiraea. Hardwood cuttings can be rooted outdoors in the fall. Pegging down a branch in the spring, and potting it up in the fall also may layer this plant. Spiraeas are easy to transplant. Fall is the best time to divide plants, but spring and fall are both good for setting out new ones.


Tall forms are grown as hedges, low screens, or foundation shrubs. Low-growing forms are used as groundcovers or in borders.




Spireas are a diverse group of flowering shrubs that are a garden favorite. Coming in a range of sizes, colors, and forms, there are plenty of options to choose from with these hardy, easy-to-grow shrubs. Some of the old-fashioned varieties of spirea such as bridal wreath, with its timeless elegance and delicate cascading branches covered in frothy white blooms, have been around for decades. However, the old-fashioned varieties can take a lot of space and look best when not pruned. New varieties work well in suburban yards where colors and size are important.

genus name
  • Spiraea
  • Sun
plant type
  • Shrub
  • 1 to 3 feet,
  • 3 to 8 feet
  • Up to 6 feet
flower color
  • White,
  • Pink
foliage color
  • Blue/Green,
  • Chartreuse/Gold
season features
  • Spring Bloom,
  • Summer Bloom,
  • Colorful Fall Foliage,
  • Winter Interest
problem solvers
  • Good For Privacy,
  • Slope/Erosion Control
  • 5,
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8,
  • 9
  • Layering,
  • Stem Cuttings

Colorful Combinations

Spirea japonica is probably the most commonly seen and used today. It has a much more manageable size and comes in an assortment of colored foliage and even has a variety of bloom colors. The shape of these types of spirea is much more dense and short. They form almost perfect ball hedges that can easily be pruned back to the ground each year to encourage a fresh new spurt of growth. This also helps to prevent them from getting a hollow center, where most of the old growth in the middle of the plant no longer puts out growth and just the tips leaf out.

Learn the best practices for planting a hedge here.

The foliage colors are also much more interesting in this group. Many of the most popular varieties are offered in orange and gold leaf color, many times with a purple cast to the bottoms of the leaves creating a nice multi-color effect. Blooms tend to be of a bright, glowing pink that pops against the light gold foliage.

Check out our favorite flowering trees and shrubs.

Betulifolia spirea has leaves that resemble miniature birch leaves, which is where it gets its name. This is a great multi-season shrub. Its foliage is covered in white flowers in the spring, with an occasional off-season bloom. Then the best show comes in the fall, when the foliage glows with fiery colors of autumn; orange, purples and yellows look as though they are lit from within as the nights cool down. Much like the japonicas, this spirea can also be sheared to keep them nice and neat, and should be done just after the blooms fade.

Spirea Care Must-Knows

All of the different spirea have fairly similar site requirements. They will ultimately be happiest in full sun with good drainage, but if pushed, they can manage in some shade.

More Varieties of Spirea

‘Anthony Waterer’ spirea

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This variety of Spiraea japonica grows into a 3-foot-tall mound with deep rosy pink flowers in spring. Zones 4-9.

‘Little Princess’ spirea

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This type of Spiraea japonica forms a dense mound 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Rose pink flowers in spring. Zones 4-9.

‘Goldflame’ spirea

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Spiraea japonica ‘Goldflame’ is a small shrub to 2 to 3 feet high, with orange-gold tinted new growth that softens to light green in summer, then copper-orange in fall. It bears pink flowers in early summer. Zones 4-9.

‘Snowmound’ spirea

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Spiraea nipponica ‘Snowmound’ bears white flowers that almost smother the branches in early summer. It forms a fast-growing, mounding shrub 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Zones 4-8.

‘Tor’ spirea

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This variety of Spiraea betulifolia is a wonderful addition to the spirea family. Clean blue/green foliage gives way to white blooms and glowing red/orange fall color. 2-3 feet tall and wide, zones 4-8.

‘Van Houtte’ spirea

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Spirea x vanhouttei ‘Van Houtte’ forms a vase-shaped shrub to 6 feet tall and wide, bearing white flowers in mid-spring. Zones 4-8.

‘Froebel’ spirea

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This Spiraea japonica selection bears bright pink spring flowers and grows 5 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-9.

‘Bridal Wreath’ spirea

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Spiraea prunifolia ‘Bridal Wreath’ bears tiny double white flowers on bare branches early in spring, before the glossy green leaves appear. Some red fall color. Zones 5-9.

Garden Plans For Spirea

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How to grow Spiraea

A beautiful late spring /early summer flowering shrub, Spiraea is very hardy and suitable to grow in most locations, although for the showiest flowers Spiraea is best grown in full sun. Spiraea is easy to grow, self sufficient and has no particular growing or pruning requirements unless the shrub is getting too large, or tangled, when you can opt to do so a light trim after flowering. Spiraea is a genuinely a low maintenance easy to grow shrub which really needs no attention once planted.

Once established Spiraea is easy to grow and all that is required is trimming or pruning if it gets too large after flowering in summer. If the shrub does need pruning, take out the old shoots from the base and trim back the younger stems to required size. If you do decide to prune Spiraea, it is best to prune after flowering in late summer

Spiraea is deciduous and it looks very different in the winter compared to summer, as shown in the image below. Spiraea canescens left in early summer, right in winter. It looks dead in the winter, so if you come across it in the garden, don’t be tempted to dig it up, come the spring it will reward you. Spiraea are fully hardy H6 which is to -10 down to -20.

Common Spirea Growing Mistakes to Avoid

The spirea is a common flowering shrub that is a favorite among landscapers. It comes in multiple varieties with leaf colors that range between green and red. The flowers of the plant include white, pink, and other variations.

Spirea is easy to grow and maintain. However, even though it is easy to cultivate a spirea plant there are several common spirea growing mistakes that you will want to avoid. These mistakes include planting your spirea in an area of your yard that is in full shade, improper spacing, over fertilizing, over watering, and forgetting to deadhead spent flowers.

1. Too Much Shade

The first growing mistake that you can make with your spirea shrub is planting it in full shade. While the spirea will tolerate partial shade it is better to plant it in full sun. Full sun plantings will produce more flowers and these flowers will have more vibrant colors.

2. Improper Spacing

Another mistake that is common when growing spirea is not providing the plants with enough space to spread out. Spirea comes in a variety of sizes and spreads. The smaller varieties tend to have spreads that range between 18 to 24 inches, while the larger varieties can have spreads as wide as four to six feet. If you plant your spirea too close together you will impede their ability to grow and to produce flowers. Always give your spirea enough space to grow without colliding with their neighbor.

3. Over Fertilizing

Over fertilizing is one of the most common growing mistakes made for spirea plants. The spirea does not require a lot of food to grow healthy. They only require an annual feeding of granular all-purpose fertilizer. This feeding can be done either in the fall or in early spring. To apply the fertilizer just sprinkle the granules around the base of your spirea. If you overfeed your spirea you can end up burning the plant, which can kill it.

4. Failing to Deadhead Your Spirea

Deadheading is the process of cutting off flowers that have faded. This process isn’t a requirement for the spirea, but it can be very beneficial.

Deadheading will prevent the production of seeds in the fall and can save you a lot of cleanup work. Also, it will encourage your spirea to produce a second batch of flowers later in the season.

If you fail to deadhead your spirea it will contain both new blooms and wilted blooms which can severely impact its beauty.

5. Over Watering

The most common growing mistake that people make when growing spirea in their yards is over watering it. The spirea can thrive under most conditions; however, it does not tolerate soggy soil. It is because of this that you do not want to give your spirea too much water during the year. Spirea plants generally only need a little extra water during the summer months. The rest of the year it will be able to get the water that it needs from its natural environment.

Spiraeas: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties

Spireas are small to medium sized deciduous shrubs that produce cascades of flowers in spring and summer.

About spiraeas
Among the easiest flowering shrubs to grow, spireas are often used in foundation plantings, as hedges, and in perennial gardens. Most spireas bloom in late spring to midsummer. Flower colors include pink, red, yellow, and white, depending on the variety. Some types have colorful fall foliage. Size depends on the species and variety, and can range from 2 to 10 feet tall and wide. Low-growing bumald spirea (S. bumalda) and medium-sized Japanese spirea (S. japonica) can be used throughout the landscape. Vanhoutte spirea (S. vanhouttei), the classic bridal wreath spirea, grows up to 10 feet tall and 20 feet wide, so give it plenty of elbow room. Masses of small, white flower clusters cover the plant in the spring.

Special features of spiraeas
Easy care/low maintenance

Planting Instructions
Plant in spring or fall. Space plants 2 to 15 feet apart, depending on the expected mature size of the plant. Dig a hole only as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide. If your soil is in very poor condition, amend the soil you’ve removed from the hole with a small amount of compost. Otherwise don’t amend it at all. Carefully remove the plant from the container and set it in the hole. Fill in around the root ball with soil until the hole is about half filled. Then firm the soil and water thoroughly. Fill the hole with the remaining soil and water again. Form a raised ridge of soil around the perimeter of the hole so it acts like a berm to help hold in water.

Ongoing Care
Apply a layer of compost under the tree each spring, spreading it out to the dripline (the area under the outermost branches). Add a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Deadheading spent flowers will sometimes induce a second flowering. Most spireas can be pruned after flowering to reduce height and maintain the desired shape. However, Japanese and bumald spireas should be pruned in early spring to promote the best flowering. Remove dead, diseased, and broken branches anytime. Spireas can be severely pruned and will grow and flower again.

Spiraea is one of the most popular garden plants since it is almost the only one that does not require special care and planting location. It belongs to the Rosaceae family and it is native to the Northern Hemisphere. Every year, the various species of Spiraea surprise us with their abundance of flowers and colors and fit wonderfully into the garden scenery.

Plant Profile

  • plant family: Rose family (Rosaceae)
  • genus: Spiraea, the name derives from the Greek word speira meaning twisting, because the fruits of the shrub look like as if they are twisted
  • species: there are 80 different species, from which the best known are Spiraea arguta (bridal-wreath), Spiraea billardii (Triumphans) as well as the different varieties of Spiraea japonica
  • origin: Northern Hemisphere of Earth, very common in East Asia (China)
  • it is generally a bushy and easy to clean plant
  • height: Depending on its type it can reach from 25 centimeters up to 2 meters
  • flowering season: it can either bloom in spring or in summer
  • Spiraeas unfold their splendor from April to November
  • the colors of the flowers vary from white to pink, purple and red tones, panicle and umbel type of inflorescence
  • summer green, ovate-lanceolate, toothed and short-stalked leaves
  • propagation by seeds

Spiraea japonica

Spiraeas should not be missing from any garden; they harmonize best with Delphinium (larkspur), lavender, forsythia, peony, phlox, flowers and grass. It depends, of course, on the species, since Spiraea can be used as an ornamental shrub as tall as a person, as well as as a bushy ground cover.


Its characteristic is the robust adaptation to soil and climate. With a Spiraea you can never go wrong; every year it will always please the eye in the garden with its blossoming splendor. It can also be found in parks and, as a hedge, provides a good visual protection.

The many species and varieties of Spiraea make a consistent description difficult. However, the easy care and the ideal adaptation to soil and climate are typical for all species of Spiraea and that makes them really attractive, particularly for beginner gardeners. All species are also characterized by dense vegetation and a rampant, vibrant blooming.


The great variety of Spiraeas

There is always the right strain for every garden. The best known in Northern Europe is the so-called Bridal Wreath Spiraea with a height of 1-2 meters and widely overhanging branches. This bush can be perfectly used as a hedge plant and in April and May exudes a unique romance with its white blossoms. Similar is the newer variety of Spiraea cinerea ‘Grefsheim’. It also loves freestanding hedges landscaping so that it can show off its wide- arching branches.

From May to June blooms the unpretentious Astilbe, which can reach a height of up to 3 meters and with its white/pink blossoms it is often used as a hedge plant in parks. The bushy Spiraea densiflora, which blooms in May and is remarkably robust and healthy, can be often seen in gardens and along pathways. Dense pink flowers and long lasting foliage characterize this shrub.


A solitary plant, which can also bloom in plant pots, is Spiraea thunbergii with its magical white blossoms. Likewise, Spiraea vanhouttei can be used as a solitary or grouping shrub.

More spring flowers:

  • Spiraea gemmata
  • Spiraea arcuata
  • Spiraea prunifolia
  • Spiraea media
  • Spiraea betulifolia Pall

A magnificent summer blooming shrub is the Spiraea billardii ’Triumphans’. It has cone-shaped and dark pink blossoms and it can be up to 1.5 meters high. It is used as deck or grouping shrub.

1 of 4 Spiraea Spiraea Spiraea Spiraea

The Japanese meadowsweet (Spiraea japonica) with dense and lushly flowering umbel-like cymes counts among the summer blooming shrubs. All of its species are dwarf shrubs.

The most common varieties are:

  • Sapho and Crispa with crimson flowers
  • Anthony Waterer (Spiraea bumalda) with crimson flowers
  • Dart’s Red Spiraea with dark crimson flowers
  • Albiflora with white flowers
  • Golden Princess and Goldflame with purple-pink flowers
  • Nana with small pink flowers
  • Little Princess with bright pink flowers
  • Neon Flash with dark-pink flowers
  • Shirobana with white, pink and pink-red flowers inside an umbel
  • ‘Zigeunerblut’ with dark-purple flowers

A ground cover and vigorously sprouting plant is Spiraea decumbens. Spiraea cana is suitable especially for dry rock gardens. Spiraea japonica and Spiraea bumalda have more powerful colors, as well as Spiraea douglasii and Spiraea japonica ‘Anthony Waterer’.

Spiraea – How To Care

All species of Spiraea are among the most robust varieties in the garden, but some instructions should be followed in order to enjoy longer the richly flowering and winter-hardy ornamental shrubs.

Spiraea media


Spiraea prefers either a sunny or a half-shady area. Some species, however, are also shade-tolerant, if the soil is humus rich or regularly fertilized. Depending on the species, the shrubs can be planted in garden beds, even in brownfields, in rock or roof gardens, as well as in plant pots for the balcony or the terrace. The sunnier the place is, the more the shrub sprouts. Spiraeas can be planted in almost any type of soil.

1 of 2 Spiraea media Spiraea media


Plants are adapted to poor soils and long dry seasons. But of course the shrubs should be watered regularly after planting. However, if they are deep-rooted, they also survive phases of aridity and should only be watered in case of unusual drought. In any case, waterlogging should be prevented.


Spiraeas generally do not need fertilizers. In a very humus-rich soil and in case of over- fertilization, they start to sprawl and if too much fertilizer is used, they can become really sensitive. Early flowering plants usually tolerate partial shade or shade, but in this case they should be fertilized from time to time with mature compost in order to ensure the usual flowering. Bark mulch is very suitable for ground covering and protection of all Spiraeas.

1 of 3 Spiraea salicifolia Spiraea salicifolia Spiraea salicifolia


Pruning the different species of Spiraeas requires skill and it is a ‘science of itself’. The pruning technique is generally the same for all Spiraeas; there are differences only in time for pruning. Dried and damaged plant parts as well as visibly weak shoots should be always removed immediately. The annual pruning is for rejuvenation, in order to prevent an ugly leaf loss.


Please keep in mind that the shoots should be pruned and not squeezed, with normal sharp pruning shears. This kind of pruning can be done several times a year until October. Some gardeners just trim and do not do the rejuvenation pruning. Depending on shrub and location, a rejuvenation pruning is required every 3 to 4 years.

Spring and summer blooming shrubs pruning

Every year a pruning takes place, but it is important to make sure if Spiraeas bloom on the previous or this year’s wood. Spring blossoms grow on the previous year’s wood and are therefore pruned directly after the flowering. Summer blossoms, on the other hand, grow mostly on the new wood, so they are pruned the following year before flowering.

Spiraea thunbergii

However, this should not happen too early, but it is better to wait for the frost period, so that the shrub does not suffer any damage. Also a high summer heat is not very good for pruning. The best time to do rejuvenation pruning is in March. Pruning is always diagonal and no more than around 5 millimeters above the bud.

Hedge plants pruning

Hedge plants can be pruned freely. This can be usually done by the so-called trapezoidal trim, whereby it is taken into account that the hedge is wider at the bottom than at the top and thus the sunlight can also radiate inwards.


In the case of a radical hedge pruning, one must first be informed about the non-cutting period of the individual federal states, because in the dense branches animals could nest or spend the winter. According to the nature conservation regulations, no radical pruning is allowed; only gentle pruning.


Spiraeas are usually frost resistant plants, which do not require any special effort for the cold season. Of course, solitary plants in pots should be in a sheltered place and protected with a fleece, so that the root balls do not suffer frost damage. Likewise, young bushes planted in late summer require special protection through a fleece or a burlap sack.

1 of 7 Spiraea Spiraea Spiraea Spiraea Spiraea Spiraea Spiraea

In case of heavy snowfall, the wide-arching branches and twigs of Spiraeas can be carefully cleaned from the snow, so that a breaking will be prevented. This is, however, necessary only when the snow is wet; a light powder snow usually does not harm the shrub.


The safest method of propagation and cultivation is by cuttings. These will gain approximately 10-15 centimeters long shoots, which they get rid of leaves and they should be put in a vase with water so that they produce roots. If, finally, the roots are long and strong enough, they can be plant into the potting compost and taken cared of afterwards.

Alternatively, the cuttings can also be planted immediately after pruning in the potting compost, where they must be protected in a moist and warm environment by a plastic cover. As soon as the cuttings are well rooted with the soil, the cover can be removed and the young plants can be in the open ground. This can happen to early flowering plants during the summer; for summer plants is preferable the breeding to be done in winter and an exposure of the plant should take place only in spring, when no more frost is expected.

Spiraea japonica

Another method is the ground layering. In this case, a shoot of the shrub, which is nearest to the ground, is pressed into a groove, where only a part of the shoot is covered with soil and only the top of the other end is visible. After a while, the shoot produces roots underground and can be separated from the mother plant. If no shoot is long enough for this, it can also be earthed up, so that it is planted on a pile of soil.


The robust Spiraeas are usually not affected by diseases and pests. Only an improper pruning of the shoots can cause putrefaction and penetration of fungi or bacteria. Therefore, make sure not to squeeze the shoot but to prune it nicely and diagonally.

Spiraea japonica

If Spiraea has in spring rolled and brown leaves then it is obviously infested with mildew. A radical pruning is, after flowering, the best solution. At least half the size of the shrub should be reduced in order to be able to sprout again fresh and healthy.


Use and advantages of Spiraea

The fully bloomed branches of the early or summer blooming Spiraeas are excellent for the vase, especially because pruning is beneficial for them, so that they can sprout again.

Spiraea fits to every park and garden because it harmonizes wonderfully with other shrub borders and does not need any special care. Another advantage is the green summery, bushy foliage, which brings until autumn a dash of green among the summer blooming flowers and by being planted in the shade conserves the soil moisture. A further advantage is the reduction of wild plants because of the groundcover Spiraea.

1 of 6 Spiraea japonica Spiraea japonica Spiraea Spiraea Spiraea thunbergii Spiraea thunbergii

Common names: meadowsweet, spirea

There are almost 100 species in the genus Spirarea, all of which are native to the northern hemisphere. Several have been popular garden shrubs for generations, and many named varieties are equally popular today. These deciduous shrubs are beautiful and easy to grow.

Color: white, pink, red, yellow
Bloom period: variable; spring to summer
Height: variable; 2 to 10 feet
Spread: variable; 2 to 20 feet
Uses: specimen plant, hedge, border

If you are purchasing spirea shrubs for your garden, check the full name of the shrub carefully. Many nurseries use the common name ‘spirea’ for varieties of Caryopteris, which is a completely different shrub. Don’t get the wrong one by mistake!

Scientific Name

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Spiraea

Growing Spirea

Spirea are easy-care shrubs that flower best when grown in full sun. They can be planted in the spring or fall. The new plants should be kept moist while they are getting established, but older shrubs can tolerate dry soil and some drought. In fact, some species of spirea are recommended for water-conserving landscaping.

Light: full sun
Soil: neutral to slightly acidic
Water: even moisture to dry
Hardiness Zone: variable; 3 – 8

The large, arching species usually bloom in the spring, while the smaller, upright species generally bloom in the summer. Spring-flowering spirea should be pruned right after they bloom, before new buds start to form for the following year’s flowers. Summer-flowering spirea should be pruned in late winter or early spring. Cut old canes back at ground level. Bushes can be rejuvenated by removing one-third of the plant, keeping the youngest and most vigorous canes and removing the oldest. Spirea are easily propagated from cuttings of green tip shoots taken in late spring and summer. They root best if given bottom heat. Mature wood cuttings can be taken in autumn and rooted in a cold frame.

Kinds of Spirea

Several different kinds of spirea are grown as garden shrubs.

Bridal veil spirea

This is the shrub that comes to most people’s minds when they think of spirea. Your grandparents probably grew bridal veil spirea in their gardens, and you may want to grow it too. Spiraea x vanhouttei is commonly called ‘bridal veil spirea’, but Spiraea prunifolia is also known by that name. These are large bushes, growing up to ten feet tall and sometimes as much as twenty feet wide. Their arching branches are laden with tiny white flowers in the spring. Seeing a hedge of bridal veil spirea will take your breath away!Spiraea cantoniensis, commonly called Reeves Spirea, is a double-flowered white bridal veil. It is a smaller shrub, and in warm climates it may keep its leaves through the winter.

Baby’s breath spirea

Spiraea thunbergii is also called thunberg spirea or garland spirea. This is a graceful shrub with slender, arching branches that grows three to five feet tall with a similar spread. The shrub has an almost feathery appearance, making it valuable as a foliage plant. The small leaves turn orange in the fall. It blooms profusely in late winter or early spring, before the new leaves appear. This species is native to China and Japan. It blooms best in full sun, and bloom is heaviest in cool climates, where the small white flowers can cover the entire shrub. In warm climates, the bloom is less intense but lasts for a longer time. Baby’s breath spirea can be propagated by dividing the root clump, unlike some other species.

Japanese spirea

Several cultivars from Spiraea japonica are grown as garden plants. These are upright shrubs growing two to six feet tall. They bloom in summer. The flowers are white, pink, or red; the ‘Shirobana’ variety has all three colors at once. Some varieties have yellow or purple foliage.

Bumalda Spireas

Spiraea x bumalda is a cross between S. albiflora and S. japonica. These are low-growing shrubs, two to three feet tall with a slightly wider spread. Some varieties have yellow foliage. Burmalda spirea bloom in the summer. The flowers are pink or white depending on the variety. S. x bumalda ‘Anthony Waterer’ is the best known variety.

Related Spiraea Species

Spiraea densiflora; Dense-Flowered Spiraea Spiraea densiflora; Dense-Flowered Spiraea Spiraea douglasii; Douglas Spiraea

Related Flowers

Spiraea Astilboides

Spiraea Astilboides – A moisture-loving plant of unusual merit, happiest on the banks of a stream or pond. It is quite distinct, the inflorescence much branched, and the flowers of a creamy white closely packed on the stems.

Spiraea Camtschatica

Spiraea Camtschatica – A gigantic Meadow Sweet, growing from 6 to 10 feet high, with huge palmate leaves and large fleecy bunches of white flowers crowning the tall stems. Its place is in rich bottoms or by water in deep soil.


Dropwort (Spiraea Filipendula) – A British species, 1 to 2 feet high, with loose clusters of yellowish-white flowers, often tipped with red. When the flower-stems are pinched off it forms an effective edging plant, its Fern-like foliage being distinct. The double variety (S. Filipendula fl.-pl.) is useful in the mixed border. Division.

Queen of the Prairie

Queen of the Prairie (Spiraea Lobata) – One of the best of the hardy Spiraeas, 18 to 36 inches high, with deep rosy carmine flowers in large terminal cymes. It thrives in sandy loam on the mixed border, on the margins of shrubberies, or grouped with the finer perennials.

Spiraea Palmata

Spiraea Palmata – A beautiful herbaceous plant from Japan. It has handsome palmate foliage, and in late summer broad clusters of rosy-crimson blossoms. When well-grown it is a fine plant for large rock gardens, in borders, or on the margin of shrubberies, and being strong enough to take care of itself, it may be naturalised.

Spiraea Ulmaria

Spiraea Ulmaria – This native Meadow Sweet deserves a place, if only for the sake of variety, in the mixed border, on the margins of shrubberies.

Spiraea Blumei

Spiraea Blumei – A rare and pretty shrub of about 4 feet, gracefully arching, with blunt deeply-notched leaves and abundant white flowers in June. Japan.

Spiraea Bullata

Spiraea Bullata – A neat shrub for the rock garden, only 12 to 18 inches high, with erect and downy branches, rounded and wrinkled leaves, and deep pink flowers in July and August. Japan. Syn., S. crispifolia.

Spiraea Cana

Spiraea Cana – A dense shrub of 1 to 2 feet, with grey down-covered leaves which give the plant a hoary appearance. The tiny white flowers are borne upon arching sprays throughout the summer, and quite freely even on small plants.

Spiraea Canescens

Spiraea Canescens – A graceful shrub form the Himalayas, reaching a height of many feet at maturity, with hairy stems, small bluntly-oval leaves, and white (or rarely pale pink) Hawthorn-scented flowers in crowded clusters upon the slender sprays. The plant needs room to spread its whip-like stems, and is best in a sheltered place.

Canton Spiraea

Canton Spiraea (Spiraea Cantoniensis) – A slender bush, about a yard high, bearing many small clusters of white flowers. There is also a beautiful double variety in which the flowers last longer. The Plum-leaved Spiraea (S. prunifolia) is represented in gardens by the double variety (fl.-pl.), a charming shrub, with flowers like tiny snow-white rosettes, in early summer wreathing every twig. S. media (better known as S. confusa) resembles S. cantoniensis, but its variety rotundiflora is distinct and pretty.

Spiraea Decumbens

Spiraea Decumbens – A mountain shrub from the Tyrol, seldom exceeding 6 inches in height, and excellent in the rock garden, where it spreads by means of underground stems. The clusters of white flowers, about 2 inches across, come freely in June against a setting of pretty toothed leaves.

Spray Bush

Spray Bush (Spiraea Discolor) – A lovely shrub 8 to 10 feet high. We should seek to give full expression to its singular beauty by careful grouping, taking care to save it from the horrible jumble that nurserymen give us when they plant a “shrubbery.” Given an open position, it forms a large bush of good form laden during summer with spray-like panicles of small whitish flowers. Syn., S. ariaefolia.

Spiraea Douglasi and S. Nobleana

Spiraea Douglasi and S. Nobleana – Are so similar in growth and flower that they may be conveniently coupled, though as they bear their clusters of deep red flowers at different times it is well to have both. N. America. S. Douglasi succeeds in every part of the British Isles; S. Nobleana, from California, is less hardy, and flowers earlier. An allied plant of garden origin is S. Billardii, raised from S. Douglasi crossed with salicifolia. It is a pretty shrub of 6 feet, with oblong leaves, and narrow crowded spikes of bright pink flowers, 5 to 8 inches long, from July into September. S. pachystachys, another garden hybrid (from corymbosa and Douglasi) bears broader leaves and pale pink flowers.

Spiraea Hypericifolia

Spiraea Hypericifolia – From Asia Minor, the type of a small group, all good in growth and flower. The tall slender stems arch gracefully, and under good conditions reach a height of 8 feet, wreathed in the flowering season with clusters of small white flowers.

Rosy Bush M.

Rosy Bush M. (Spiraea Japonica) – Easily recognised by its slender stems 3 or 4 feet high, surmounted by broad flat clusters of deep pink flowers. It is a variable species with several other names, such as S. callosa and S. Fortunei. There are also many distinct forms in cultivation, and of these the best are alba, a pretty compact shrub with white flowers; Bumalda, of the same dwarf habit but with deep rosy flowers; Bumalda Anthony Waterer, a good plant richer in color and approaching the fine form rubra from Japan, in which the flowers are intense crimson-purple and a shade larger. The plants called atropurpurea and coccinea by some hardly differ from this. Other varieties are splendens, with flowers of a pale peach color; glabrata, of more rigid habit, with bright pink flowers; and Froebeli, an early-flowering form with wine-red flowers passing to deep crimson. S. Bumalda ruberrima is a cross between Bumalda and bullata, dwarfer than its near parent, with larger flowers of deeper color; S. Margaritae is a cross between S. japonica and its variety superba, and is a hand-some plant with graceful wand-like shoots and large bright pink flowers. S. Foxii, another hybrid of dwarf habit, is less good. S. bella, from the Himalayas, comes near S. japonica, but is dwarfer and denser. All these kinds flower freely through the summer, and often till late in autumn.

Plume Spiraea

Plume Spiraea (Spiraea Lindleyana) – A noble shrub, sometimes 10 feet high, its graceful foliage divided, and delicate green, the flower clusters large, white, and plume-like, being at their best in August. It thrives in warm deep soil, and loves the chalk. In cool soils it does not do so well, seeming to spread more at the root, but is always beautiful in foliage and habit. Himalayas. S. Aitchisoni from Afghanistan also comes very near this, differing little save in its larger flowers, ruddy bark, and darker green leaves cut into smaller leaflets.

Spiraea Salicifolia

Spiraea Salicifolia – A plant covering an immense area in Europe, Asia, and N. America, and even naturalised in parts of Britain. It reaches a height of 3 to 5 feet, with long serrate leaves and rosy flowers in July and August, their precise character differing in the many forms in cultivation. The best of these are grandiflora, a shrub of dwarf habit with large pale pink flowers; lanceolata (or alba) with white flowers; and latifolia with larger white or rose-tinted flowers.

Spiraea Tomentosa

Spiraea Tomentosa – A little shrub of about 4 feet, with down-covered branches, oblong leaves grey or woolly with down on the underside, and white, pink, or purplish flowers in dense spikes. N. America. A pretty plant, one of the best in its autumn flowers, and with roots not much inclined to roam. Especially good in damp ground and overhanging water.

Spiraea Van Houttei

Spiraea Van Houttei – A garden cross between media (confusa) and trilobata. In late spring it bears masses of white flowers so thickly clustered as to hide all else and emphasise the graceful droop of the stems. Indeed, these sometimes droop too much, allowing the clusters to drag and spoil in bad weather. The flowers open about the middle of May, and the wand-like shoots are useful for cutting. Being sensitive to cold winds and late frost, a sheltered place is best for this kind.


Goats-beard (Spiraea Aruncus) – A vigorous perennial, 3 to 5 feet high, beautiful in foliage and habit as well as in flower. Its flowers are freely produced in summer in large gracefully-drooping plumes. It is valuable for grouping with other fine-foliaged herbaceous plants. It thrives in ordinary soil, but succeeds best in a deep moist loam. Europe, Asia, and America. Division.

Thunberg’s M.

Thunbergs M. (Spiraea Thunbergi) – A dense bush, with small bright green leaves, and in early spring a profusion of tiny white blossoms. It is hardy, and especially suitable for planting in a bold rock garden or on a raised bank among tree-stems. Few shrubs are so fine in autumn, its small leaves changing to brilliant crimson.

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