Spirea (Spiraea)

The cool, moist weather we had this June attributed to the exceptional display of flowering shrubs.  Mockorange, a native shrub that was discovered in Western Montana and Idaho by Meriwether Lewis on the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804-1806 named for himself: Philadelphus lewisii.  The selection of Mockorange we sell now is called Blizzard.  It is an extremely hardy shrub covered with fragrant, white flowers in late June and early July. Mockorange in bloom were spectacular around town this year, noticeably those planted in front of the Willson auditorium on Main Street. 

Another outstanding summer-blooming shrub is Spirea.  Spireas are versatile, hardy and easy-to-grow.  They bloom with white flat-topped flower clusters or showy pink flowers in spring and summer.  Many have beautiful reddish fall leaf color.  And they have no serious insect or disease problems.

Some spireas flower in late spring, usually white. Others flower in July, often pink.  A familiar spirea, seen planted at older homes and farmsteads, is the hybrid, Vanhoutte, abbreviated VH.  VH is sometimes referred to as Bridalwreath because of its trailing branches that produce a profusion of pure white blossoms in June.  Renaissance is a selection of VH that looks very similar but is more disease resistant.  This large shrub is perfect planted in front of a historic home.  Fairy Queen Spirea is a dwarf version of Renaissance.

One of my husband Jerry’s favorite shrubs is the easy-to-grow Fritsch Spirea.  It grows easily into a showy but compact shrub.  Fritsch has big white flowers in late June.  We have it planted in a shady spot where it thrives, but it will also grow in a sunny spot.  Its fall leaf color is brilliant.

Little Princess is another of his favorite spireas.  We have had one planted by the front door of our garden center for over 25 years and it is thriving despite being ignored, as perfect today as it was when it was first planted.  Little princess is truly “little”, one of the smaller spireas.

A new small spirea called Tor Birchleaf has become popular for its compact, mounded shape and spectacular fall color.  Its white flowers are good pollinators. 

I like a shrub called Spirea Sorbifolia, not a true spirea at all.  We have an area in our yard planted with Ash Leaf Spirea (another common name for it).  It has attractive white flowers in late July, blooming later than many other shrubs in your yard.  Although it suckers and therefore is best planted away from other shrubs, its white blossoms are beautiful and good for cutting.  It is super hardy and grows in sun or shade in any of the areas’ microclimates—even Butte and West Yellowstone. 

Pretty, long-lasting flowers, ease of growth and fall color—all reasons to plant and enjoy spireas.