Tough, easy to grow and durable are musical words to a Northern gardener’s ears.
To add to the symphony, spirea is an adaptable plant that is relatively fast-growing and easy to maintain. In the many spring, summer and fall flowering varieties, spirea offers a multitude of hardy and beautiful choices.
Spirea plants can be found in an amazing array of varieties that can be overwhelming for any gardener. As a member of the Rosaceae (rose) family, spirea is a well-developed, hardy plant.
Ideally, spirea should be planted in an area of the garden that receives full, direct sunlight. The plants prefer well-drained soil conditions that are rich in organic matter. But once established, these plants are generally drought-tolerant and will survive under almost any condition.
One favoured spring-blooming variety, vanhoutte (bridal wreath spirea), is a sweet, spring blooming variety that flowers abundantly before leaves appear. The tiny nosegays of white flowers grown on long, arched branches have long been a favoured flower for Northern gardeners.
This more-common and nostalgic, spring-blooming variety will easily grow to heights and equal widths of six to 10 feet. The potential size can make it a challenge for smaller garden landscapes.
The colourful, summer-blooming spireas are compact plants yielding tight bouquets of tiny cluster-like flowers in shades of white to pale and deep pink. Spirea bumalda, “Anthony Waterer”, is likely the most-popular summer-blooming spirea and has been around since 1890.
The leaves of this plant emerge in a rich, bronzy-red colour, followed by a transition to blue-green as the vibrant carmine-pink flowers begin their blossom early in the summer months. This plant will grow to heights of three to four feet with widths of four to six feet.
Another popular later-season variety, spirea bumalda, “Goldflame”, is the most popular of the golden spireas. The uniqueness of this plant starts with leaves in coppery-red colour followed by a change to chartreuse and then to warm bronze. The flowers bloom in a beautiful shade of dark pink.
Frequently planted along foundations or in borders, spirea looks best in massed plantings (with adequate spacing) of the same variety. When pruned after its first initial flowering, spirea will often flower more than once during its growing season. Spring-blooming varieties, however, bloom on old wood and should be pruned only to maintain the plants’ natural shape.
Spirea is a timeless beauty available in unique varieties that flower throughout the summer months. Whether you choose the early-season, billowy-white bridal wreath spirea, the showy Anthony Waterer in its compact summer colour or the fall-shaded Goldflame, spirea is an excellent choice for resilient, low-maintenance Yukon gardens.
Shari Morash is a gardening enthusiast and an accredited designer. Contact her at [email protected]