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Spiraea tomentosa (Steeplebush)

Steeplebush, Hard Hack, Hardhack, Staple Bush

Spiraea tomentosa, Steeplebush, Hard Hack, Hardhack, Staple Bush, Pink Flowers

Spiraea tomentosa (Steeplebush) is a suckering deciduous shrub bearing erect, unbranched stems clad with elliptic to ovate, medium to dark green leaves, 3 in. long (7 cm), densely hairy beneath. The foliage turns golden-yellow in fall. In mid-summer to early fall, dense plumes, 4-8 in. long (10-20 cm), packed with tiny pink to rose-purple flowers, appear at the tips of the branches. Blooming from top to bottom, the flowers produce nectar and pollen, which attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects. It is typically found in the wild in wet prairies and along the edges of streams, marshes, or bogs, Steeplebush is most suitable for naturalistic landscaping. It also does well in cottage gardens where it can grow in full sun yet have its feet wet or moist.

  • Grows up to 2-4 ft. tall (60-120 cm) and 3-5 ft. wide (90-150 cm). This is a vigorous plant that will spread by suckers to form colonies.
  • A full sun lover, this plant is easily grown in average, medium to wet soils. Tolerates a wide range of soil and light shade, but best flowering occurs in full sun.
  • Perfect choice for banks and slopes, cottage gardens, along ponds and streams, rain gardens, or bog gardens.
  • Attracts birds and butterflies, but is ignored by deer.
  • No serious pest and disease problems. Keep an eye out for leaf spots, fireblight, powdery mildew, rots, aphids, leaf roller, and scale.
  • Remove spent flower clusters to promote additional bloom.
  • Flowers on new wood, so prune in late winter to early spring if needed.
  • Propagate by seed or softwood cuttings.
  • Native to northern and Central Europe, eastern United States.

Requirements

Hardiness 3 - 8
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Rosaceae
Genus Spiraea
Common names Spirea, Hard Hack
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 2' - 4'
(60cm - 120cm)
Spread 3' - 5'
(90cm - 150cm)
Spacing 36" - 60"
(90cm - 150cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average, High
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Moisture Retentive, Poorly Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, Pacific Northwest, Midwest, Southeast, Northeast, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina
Tolerance Deer, Wet Soil
Attracts Bees, Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Bog Gardens, Ponds And Streams, Rain Gardens
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Spiraea japonica (Japanese Spirea)
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

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey Tea)
Cornus racemosa (Gray Dogwood)
Cornus sericea (Red Osier Dogwood)
Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

Pure White Flowers for a Touch of Elegance in Your Garden
45 Terrific Shrubs for Stunning Container Gardens
Add a Splash of Color: Perfect Flowering Shrubs for Small Gardens
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 3 - 8
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Rosaceae
Genus Spiraea
Common names Spirea, Hard Hack
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 2' - 4'
(60cm - 120cm)
Spread 3' - 5'
(90cm - 150cm)
Spacing 36" - 60"
(90cm - 150cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average, High
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Moisture Retentive, Poorly Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, Pacific Northwest, Midwest, Southeast, Northeast, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina
Tolerance Deer, Wet Soil
Attracts Bees, Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Bog Gardens, Ponds And Streams, Rain Gardens
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
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Spiraea (Spirea)
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