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Spiraea japonica (Japanese Spirea)

Japanese Spirea, Japanese Meadowsweet

Spiraea japonica, Japanese Spirea, Japanese Meadowsweet, Pink Flowers, Pink Shrubs
Spiraea japonica, Japanese Spirea, Japanese Meadowsweet, Pink Flowers, Pink Shrubs

Spiraea japonica (Japanese Spirea) is a dense, broadly mounded, deciduous shrub with oval to lance shaped, sharply-toothed, bright green leaves. In late spring to midsummer, domed sprays of white to pink flowers grace the tips of the branches and contrast well with the foliage. The blossoms are followed by small capsules that are smooth and glabrous. A single plant produces hundreds of small seeds that are naturally dispersed. Heat and drought tolerant, Japanese Spirea is a popular ornamental shrub that is often grown as a flowering hedge, low screen, or foundation shrub.

Introduced into North America and Europe as an ornamental, Japanese Spirea has become naturalized and shown the potential to become an invasive weed in both North America and Europe. It can invade a variety of habitats including fields, forests, stream banks and many disturbed areas. Once established, it can form dense stands which displace native herbs and shrubs. The seeds can last for many years in the soil, making its control and the restoration of native vegetation especially difficult.

20 commonly available Japanese Spirea cultivars were evaluated for fertility using pollen and seed germination. 3 sterile cultivars were identified: ‘Crispa’, ‘Dart’s Red’, and ‘Neon Flash’. The other 17 cultivars tested, which should be treated as entirely fertile for the purposes of invasive plant management, were ‘Albiflora’, ‘Anthony Waterer’, ‘Candlelight’, ‘Dakota Goldcharm’, var. alpina ‘Daphne’, ‘Flaming Mound’, ‘Flowering Choice’, ‘Froebelii’, ‘Golden Princess’, ‘Goldflame’, ‘Goldmound’, ‘Gumball’, ‘Lemon Princess’, ‘Little Princess’, ‘Magic Carpet’, ‘Norman’, and ‘Shibori’.

Sterile cultivars can help reduce the use of fertile varieties in areas where Japanese spirea has shown the potential to become invasive.

  • Grows up to 4-6 ft. tall (120-180 cm) and 5-7 ft. wide (150-210 cm).
  • A full sun lover, this plant is easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils. Tolerates light shade as well as a wide range of soil conditions.
  • Suitable for borders, foundation plantings, cottage gardens, banks and slopes (erosion control).
  • Attracts butterflies but is ignored by deer.
  • Virtually pest and disease free.
  • Flowers on new wood, so prune in late winter to early spring if needed. If overgrown, can be renovated by cutting back hard immediately after flowering.
  • Propagate by softwood cuttings in summer or by division in autumn or spring
  • Spiraea japonica species is native to Japan. It can be an aggressive self-seeder and spread in the garden by suckering.
  • Find where this species is invasive in the United States.
  • Discover beautiful U.S. native plant alternatives.

Requirements

Hardiness 4 - 9
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, A2, A3
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Rosaceae
Genus Spiraea
Common names Spirea, Japanese Spirea
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 4' - 6'
(120cm - 180cm)
Spread 5' - 7'
(150cm - 210cm)
Spacing 60" - 84"
(150cm - 210cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Deer, Clay Soil
Attracts Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders, Hedges And Screens
Garden Styles Traditional Garden, Informal and Cottage, Coastal Garden, City and Courtyard
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Spiraea tomentosa (Steeplebush)
Spiraea splendens (Rose Meadowsweet)
Spiraea betulifolia (Birchleaf Spirea)
Spiraea alba (White Meadowsweet)
Spiraea × vanhouttei ‘Pink Ice’ (Vanhoutte Spirea)
Spiraea betulifolia ‘Tor’ (Birchleaf Spirea)

Recommended Companion Plants

Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Rose Glow’ (Japanese Barberry)
Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ (Coral Bells)
Clematis ‘Polish Spirit’ (Late Large-Flowered Clematis)
Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ (Montbretia)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

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35 Flowering Shrubs That Thrive in Full Sun
Native Plant Alternatives to Spiraea japonica (Japanese Spirea)
Native Plant Alternatives to Spiraea prunifolia (Bridal Wreath)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 4 - 9
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, A2, A3
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Rosaceae
Genus Spiraea
Common names Spirea, Japanese Spirea
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 4' - 6'
(120cm - 180cm)
Spread 5' - 7'
(150cm - 210cm)
Spacing 60" - 84"
(150cm - 210cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Deer, Clay Soil
Attracts Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders, Hedges And Screens
Garden Styles Traditional Garden, Informal and Cottage, Coastal Garden, City and Courtyard
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Guides with
Spiraea (Spirea)
Not sure which Spiraea (Spirea) to pick?
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