I have found that Spireas are versatile and beautiful shrubs. Shaping them to various geometric designs is fun and can be striking in a formal landscape. They also can be ‘left to their own accord’ in a more natural setting. Either way, they should be pruned at this time of year when they finish blooming.
In a formal setting, I try to cut away the dead blooms and shape the bushes. I have a client that likes them rounded like big snowballs. I cut away three to four inches to get through the blooms and into the foliage. Shaping this way can create a ‘dead zone’ underneath the foliage. I also get to the bottom of the bush and cut away a few of the oldest stems. This seems to invigorate the plant to put out new growth. This action along with good feeding practices will help keep the plant full of foliage.
In their more natural state Spireas are more of what I call a fountain bush. It is almost like they are sitting in a big vase with the stems growing up, cascading off the top and back toward the ground. In this setting I may leave the blooms on even after they are done. (I just think it’s a more natural look). I cut off the dead, dying and oldest branches at the ground. The opening up of the bottom will invigorate the plant and it will put out new growth. Again, proper feeding is essential.
In extreme cases, where there is just too much dead plant, I have cut them down to a foot or so in the fall. They will come back in the spring, so you must be patient. It may be a year or two before the plant returns to looking full and blooming again.
I have mentioned feeding the Spirea. I ‘dig in’ a balanced blend of 14-14-14 around the roots of the bush after pruning and will supplement that with foliar feeding.
I admit that it has only been recently that I have come to like these plants. They seem to have a lot of pollen which wakes up my allergies! I have to admire them through sneezes and watery eyes! But, they are very beautiful and given the attention they require, they can last a very long time.
Oh, I promised the final strawberry count. 16 gallons from a 3 foot by 40 foot patch! They taste wonderful, thanks Mom, Dad, and Sonia….