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Spiraea japonica

Pronunciation: Spy-ree-ah juh-pon-ih-kuh
Family: Rosaceae (rose family)
Common Name: Japanese spirea, japanese meadowsweet, maybush
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
Height to: 2-6'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • -20 to -30ºF ZONE 4
  • -10 to -20ºF ZONE 5
  • 0 to -10ºF ZONE 6
  • 10 to 0ºF ZONE 7
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Season:
  • late spring
  • early summer
Bloom Description: Flat-topped clusters (corymbs, to be technical) of pink flowers are displayed at the tips of the wiry branches. In the most common forms, the pink color results from a mix of light and dark pink that gives the blossom a pixilated appearance. Small lustrous capsules hold seeds about 1/10 in (0. 25 cm) long.
Soil Type: Japanese spirea will grow in a wide variety of soils, including those on the alkaline side, but it prefers a rich, moist loam. These shrubs appreciate manure and thrive on organic mulch. Since they bloom on the current season's growth, japanese spirea should be pruned in winter or early spring. They can be cut all the way to the ground. After the flowers fade, shear them off to stimulate a second flush of growth and more flowers. Mowing will control expansion of a planting, but the stems will resprout, so repeated cutting will be a longterm necessity.
Plant Perks:
  • Fall Foliage
Pests and Diseases: Spireas may suffer minor damage from a variety of pests and diseases, but they are not prone to any major problems. Aphids occasionally are a nuisance in the spring
Propagation: Japanese spirea reproduces aggressively in the wild. A single plant can produce hundreds of seeds that remain viable and persist in the soil for many years. Typically the seeds are dispersed by water and deposited along streambanks. They also are distributed in fill dirt. In cultivation, japanese spirea usually is propagated by sucker division or softwood cuttings rooted under mist in a warm place during the summer. Hardwood cuttings can be rooted outdoors in the fall. This plant also may be layered by pegging down a branch in the spring and potting it up in the fall. Spireas are easy to transplant. Fall is the best time to divide plants, but spring and fall are both good for setting out new ones.
Native to: Japan. It also is considered native to korea and china. It has naturalized in north america from new england south through the appalachians into tennessee and georgia, and west to indiana. Japanese spirea usually grows along stream bottoms and on seepage slopes, but readily invades mesic forest edges and openings, old fields, roadsides, and utility rights-of-way.
Notes for Identification: Source: floridata - tall forms are grown as hedges, low screens, or foundation shrubs. Low-growing forms are used as groundcovers or in borders. warning japanese spirea can be an aggressive invasive plant in a damp temperate climate. The plant conservation alliance lists this species as an alien invader. It will elbow out delicate border companions and try to creep into the tall grass at the edge of the lawn. It takes over disturbed areas quickly, then slips into nearby meadows, forest openings, stream bottoms, and the like. Once established, it grows rapidly and forms dense stands that outcompete native vegetation.  
Located in: Seed Photos
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