A large group of decorative deciduous shrubs, available in a wide range of attractive forms. Invaluable in the mixed border or shrubbery. Most cultivars are prized for their abundant pretty flowers and some for their attractive foliage.

Family: Rosaceae (Rose)
Botanical Name: Spiraea
Common Names: meadowsweet

Foliage: Deciduous, narrow green or yellow leaves.

Flowers: Short racemes, panicles or corymbs of tiny flowers in shades of pink or white.

Flowering Period: Spring or summer.

Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (chalk, sand or loam). Any pH.

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Can be grown in a north, south, east or west-facing aspect, in a sheltered or exposed location.

Habit: Bushy, sometimes suckering.

Type: Small to medium sized shrub.

Origin: China, Japan, Northern Hemisphere.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.

Planting and Growing Spiraea

Plant outside in early autumn or winter. Container grown plants can be planted out at any reasonable time of year.

Grow in an open sunny position in any good, well drained, deep garden soil (except heavy clay). They prefer full sun but will take some light shade.

These pretty shrubs are good as specimen plants, border shrubs or as hedging.

Taking Care of Spiraea

Water thoroughly during dry weather until well established. Mulch with organic matter in spring and apply a general fertilizer suitable for shrubs.

Dead head after flowering to prevent self-seeding and to encourage further blooms.

Pruning Spiraea

Forms that flower on the previous year's wood can be lightly pruned after flowering. Spiraea that flowers on new wood can be pruned in the early spring.

Most forms can be cut back hard after flowering, if overgrown.

Trim hedges once a year after flowering.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pests and diseases free. Leaves can be attacked by sawfly.

Propagating Spiraea

Easily propagated by either softwood cuttings in summer or hardwood cuttings in the autumn.

Popular Varieties of Spiraea Grown in the UK

Spiraeas fall into two main categories: early flowering (spring and summer) and late flowering (mid-summer to autumn).

Spiraea 'Arguta' (bridal wreath) has arching branches that are densely covered in clusters of small white flowers in mid to late spring. Flowers are followed by small fresh green leaves that turn red in autumn. Height and spread to 7ft (2m).

Spiraea douglasii is a vigorous shrub that produces long, dense clusters of purplish-pink flowers in summer. Height to 6ft (1.8m).

Spiraea japonica (meadowsweet) is a low-growing, mound-forming, shrub with rose-pink flowers in flat-headed panicles, from mid to late summer. Height to 3ft (90cm), spreads to about (1.5m).

Spiraea salicifolia (willow spiraea) is a hardy erect bush with dense spiky panicles of tiny pink or white flowers in June - July.

Spiraea thunbergi has thin arching stems covered in white flowers in spring. Good for hedging.

Spiraea tomentosa has green leaves with a grey-felted underside. Height to 6ft (2m).

Spiraea x vanhouttei has thin arching stems covered in clusters of white flowers. Height and spread to 4ft (1.2m).