Spring Flowering Spireas

Ilona

If you enjoyed reading about the five choice shrubs for small gardens, no doubt the Spirea bushes stood out as some of the easiest to grow. They are the quiet supporters of the garden most of the season, but during spring they can really stand out. Spring flowering spireas come in numerous shrub sizes, variations of bloom, but only in white or pink. Additionally, some have golden foliage.

Usually they are large mound forming bushes, be sure to check the mature size and give them proper space. Spirea (genus spiraea) genus of nearly 100 species in the rose family. That makes quite a lot of garden worthy plants to choose from, so I will highlight the ones I’m familiar with. You may be inspired to check out the new varieties available.

Old Fashioned Plants

The older varieties like Bridal Veil and Anthony Waterer were common to my childhood.

With all these shrubs, choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. (They tolerate less sun and some dryness, but best results when given conditions they like). New plants are propagated by division.

Spiraea x bumalda ‘Anthony Waterer’

Spiraea  japonica 'Anthony Waterer'

Spiraea japonica ‘Anthony Waterer’

‘Anthony Waterer’ was especially highlighted in my memories because of its vivid flowers that had a delicate almost jewel-like look in the shaded space between our house and the neighbors. It flowered in the summertime, while I traversed the walk from front yard to back innumerable times enjoying the spot of white to bright pink color along the way. 

The carmine, or purply-red, color is better accepted now and if paired with a hardy geranium like Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’ will be a real feature in a partly sunny spot.Geranium × cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’ would be pretty, too. It grows in similar conditions to the spirea.

Spiraea x bumalda ‘Goldflame

goldflame spirea leaves

Goldflame spirea leaves

This variety is very popular because of its bright gold leaves. It has similar flowers to the bush named above, but is slightly less robust, as is often true of gold leaf mutations.Through pruning, I keep it from looking sparse. The fall color is particularly good. If the sun is too bright the leaves get a bit washed out looking, so think about putting it in part sun.

It is very tough, and needs little care for survival; however paying attention to it brings out the shine of a very good smaller type shrub for color contrast.

Bridal Wreath 

This was another plant commonly placed between the houses in my old neighborhood.

I think this large shrub was most popular in my grandmothers time, and its vintage look adorned many older homes. When given space it has arching sprays of bloom in a fountain form in spring. a much finer texture than viburnums or hydrangeas. Space needed? Ten feet is not too much when situating near a building or other shrubs.

  • width and height: 10 feet
  • hardy: zone 3-9
  • light: full sun
  • soil: average
  • water: average
  • latin name: Spiraea prunifolia

I like to see it as a specimen shrub or near cherry trees. Bulbs grow well underneath to provide a lovely spring picture. If you have windy conditions, this is a planting that will take it, and provide a windbreak.

The ‘Renaissance’ variety is a newer version with improved qualities.

One of Grandma’s favorites, and useful for including in a period garden is the Vanhouttei Spirea. This is the one we are most familiar with, when saying “Spirea”, introduced into the garden trade in 1868. The April-May flowers are small white circles with a lacey texture, foliage is medium to fine-textured dull blue-green, and the overall shape is vase or fountain.

Spiraea Thunbergii ‘Ogon’

Here is another gold leafed addition to the garden. This spirea is less hardy (only to zone 5), and has finer leaves on a very twiggy bush. Its leaves are narrow and feathery in appearance. The flowers are white “bridal veil” type of small clusters.

More To Look For

  • Spiraea nipponica ‘Snowmound’

  • Double Play Gold Spirea 

  • Double Play Red Spirea

  • Spiraea betulifolia, Birchleaf spirea

Proven Winners – Spiraea betulifolia Glow Girl (Birchleaf Spirea) Shrub, gold foliage with pink flowers, #2 – Size Container

What Grows Well With Spireas?

For Bridal Veil Types

I love the way bulbs look underneath, but be sure there is enough sunlight for bulbs to grow properly. Heucheras, especially with the new foliage shades available, and ground covers like periwinkle. Nepeta mussinii, when sufficient sunlight can reach it would also  harmonize with the blue-green leaves and white flowers of the bush. Catmint’s grey green foliage and soft lavender flowers would be pretty and provide interest for other seasons. 

For Golden Leaved Types

Go bright taking a cue from the flowers with magenta tones, or soften everything with pale yellows and bring in blue. The color could be either perennials like hardy geraniums or annuals. I think allium bulbs would be a good match, which is what I planted in my own garden. I also used the ‎Chaenomeles ‘Camelot’  and Lilium ‘Tiger Babies’ nearby. For awhile i matched the  ‘Threadleaf’ Coreopsis  and some variegated sedums, but they got shaded out eventually.

Find some of these plants at Blooming Bulb, or locate spring blooming shrubs at Nature Hills Nursery, where you can order live bushes & shrubs. Over 70 live species.

Hope you liked this round-up of a few of these very versatile garden shrubs of the Spirea type. They are quite easy to grow and add spring flowers, and with some, all season color. Shrubbery is part of the mixed garden. These middle ground plants provide cover for birds and a transition visually from ground level to upper story trees. Their ease of care can help help gardeners to reduce yard maintenance. 

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of "Ilona's Reflecting Pool". Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. The work on "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.