Spirea or spiraea are a genus with about 80 to 100 species. These shrubs are native to North America and Asia. The small flowers of spiraea are clustered together and come in several colors including pink, white & sometimes purple. The blooms attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and many other pollinators. Spirea is also known as Meadowsweet, and are very easy flowering shrubs to care for. Spirea can be used as a focal point, mass-planted and ornamental garden borders. The plants require partial sun to full sun, or at least 4 hours of direct sunlight per day and well drained soil. Most spireas are winter hardy to growing zones 3 to 9. These deciduous compact bushes are typically 2 to 5 feet tall and wide.
Spirea can be planted in the spring or fall. Plant in a location that drains well and gets 4-6 hours of sunlight each day. Space spirea plants 2 to 15 feet apart, depending on the expected mature width of the plant. Dig a hole slightly deeper than the root ball and 2 times wider. Loosen the soil around the roots and place in the hole with the top of the root ball slightly above soil level. Fill hole with soil and pat down slightly. Water well and mulch to retain moisture.
Newly planted Spireas should be watered well until established. The soil should be kept moist but not soggy. Once established, this plant is drought tolerant and only needs watering when rainfall is rare or in drought conditions. It is best to water deeply to encourage healthy roots. This bush does not like wet feet, so avoid oversaturating the soil.
Spirea are not heavy feeders. To prevent sprawl, it is best to not over-fertilize. At the time of planting, apply a balanced fertilizer. In early spring, apply a controlled-release fertilizer (10-10-10) according to instructions. This will provide enough nutrients for the entire growing season. .
Prune summer blooming Spirea bushes in late winter or early spring. This can be done to remove dead/ broken branches or to maintain a desired shape. Spirea shrubs are fast growers. Another lighter pruning after they bloom in spring or early summer will promote new blooms and reinvigorate foliage growth. Spring flowering varieties bloom on old growth from the previous year and need to be pruned right after flowering.If it becomes severely overgrown, cut it to the ground to rejuvenate the shrub.
Caring For Spirea in Pots
Dwarf varieties of Spirea can be grown in containers. The container you choose should have drainage holes as this plant likes moist, well drained soil. Plants that sit in soggy soil can develop root rot or other diseases. Place the container in a location that gets 4-6 hours of full sun each day. Fertilize Spirea shrubs in early spring and again in early summer with a slow-release granular plant fertilizer or water soluble liquid fertilizer listed for use in containers. Container grown Spirea will require more frequent watering. Provide water when the top 2 inches of soil has become dry.
Winter Care for Spirea
Spireas bushes are winter hardy in USDA zones 3-9. Frost resistant, they require minimal care during the cold season. In the fall, give the plant more water to ensure that moisture in the soil is being preserved. Mulch around the base of the plant to help keep the soil warmer and to retain moisture during the winter. Late winter pruning helps encourage new growth in the spring. Container grown plants should be moved to a sheltered location for the winter. This helps protect the roots from a freeze-thaw cycle.