Posted by Brent Wilson on 11/25/2016 to Fertilizing & Watering Tips
When planted right and in the right spot, spring-flowering bridal wreath Spirea shrubs are exceptionally easy to grow and care for.
Growing in a mound of gracefully arching branches, the bridal wreath Spireas are ideal for use as a specimen, in groupings, or as a natural hedge in landscape and flowering shrub borders. They also makes a nice accent in home foundation plantings to softens corners or fill spaces between widely-spaced windows.
Here's a breakdown of what you need to know to grow bridal wreath Spirea like the pros...
Bridal Wreath Spirea plants are very easy to grow in a wide range of soils. They prefer a moist but well-drained soil of average fertility. Constantly soggy or wet soils can be problematic
How To Test Soil Drainage
If you are uncertain about soil drainage in the area you intend to plant, it's well worth taking the time to test the drainage before planting.
To test soil drainage, dig a hole 12" wide by 12" deep in the planting area. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Then, after it drains, fill it with water again, but this time clock how long it takes to drain. In well-drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of about 1 inch an hour. A faster rate, such as in loose, sandy soil, may signal potentially dry site conditions and the need to add top soil, peat moss or composted organic matter to the native soil. A slower rate indicates poor draining soil and is a caution you need to improve drainage or look for plants which are more tolerant of wet or boggy conditions.
Bridal Wreath Spirea plants grow best in an acid to neutral soil ranging between 4.0 to 7.0 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils fall between a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
How To Test Soil pH
Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil and is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. Any measurement below 7 indicates acid soil conditions, and anything above 7 indicates alkaline.
If you're unsure about the pH of your soil, and whether or not it's suitable for growing Bridal Wreath Spirea, it's a good idea to test the soil pH in the planting area. You can quickly test soil pH with an inexpensive soil pH tester probe. To raise the pH (make more alkaline) you can add pelletized limestone to the soil. To lower the pH (make more acid) you can apply Soil Sulfur, Aluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron. Adding organic compost to the soil or using compost as mulch can also help to increase acidity and maintain acid soil conditions.
Learn More: What is Soil pH and How To Adjust It?
For the best flower production and foliage density, choose a planting sit for Bridal Wreath Spirea in full to mostly sun, however plants will tolerate some light shade. Too much shade and plants won;t be as full or bloom as heavy.
How To Plant Bridal Wreath Spirea In The Ground
Scroll down for container planting instructions and care tips
Start by digging your planting hole at least two to three times as wide and as deep as the height of the rootball of your Spirea plant. The wider the hole the better. Place native soil removed from planting hole around the perimeter of the hole, in a wheel barrow, or on a tarp.
Depending on the type, fertility and porosity of the soil in the planting area you might want to add a soil amendment to the native soil removed from the planting hole. When planting Bridal Wreath Spirea in dense clay or poor quality soils it is beneficial to thoroughly mix organic matter such as bagged top soil and/or a good planting mix at a 25-50% ratio with the soil removed from the planting hole. When planting in very sandy or quick-draining soil mixing in some top soil, peat moss and/or compost will help to retain moisture in the soil. When planting in moist, well-drained soils of average fertility there is no need for adding a soil amendment.
To remove your Spirea from the container it was growing in first squeeze the sides of the pot to loosen the root ball. Then very gently try to remove the root ball from the container. If the root ball is stuck in the container use snips or a utility knife to cut the container away. After having removed the plant from the container, gently loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball.
Set your Spirea shrub in the planting hole so that the top edge of the root ball is at or just slightly above ground level to allow for settling. If necessary, add some backfill soil mixture to the bottom of the hole to achieve proper planting height.
Note: If the soil is poorly drained (constantly soggy or wet) improve drainage or select a different plant species tolerant of wet soils.
After setting your Spirea in the planting hole, use one hand to hold the plant straight and your other hand to begin back-filling your soil mixture around the root ball, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. When you have filled the hole to the halfway point you can soak the soil. Then continue back-filling to the top edge of the root ball. To avoid suffocating your plant, avoid placing any soil on top of the root ball.
Step 6 (Optional)
When planting your Spirea in a site far away from a water source and in well drained soil, you can use remaining soil mixture to build a 2 to 3-inch high water retaining berm (catch basin / doughnut) around the outside perimeter of the planting hole. This basin will help to collect water from rainfall and irrigation which can help reduce the need for hand-watering. The berm can be removed after a growing season.
Next, deeply water the planting area, including the root ball, to a depth equal to the height of the root ball. For an extra boost, you can water your newly planted Spirea with a solution of Root Stimulator, which stimulates early root formation and stronger root development, reduces plant shock, and promotes greener, more vigorous plants.
To conserve moisture and to suppress weed growth, apply a 1 to 2" layer of cured, shredded or chipped wood mulch or pine straw around the planting area. Avoid using freshly chipped wood for mulch until it has cured in a pile for at least 6 months, a year is better. Avoid placing or piling mulch directly against the base of your plant as this could cause the bark to rot.
How To Plant A Spirea In A Container
Bridal Wreath Spirea growing in pots appreciate a moist, but well-drained soil. Constantly soggy soil can and often will cause root rot or other harmful or deadly plant diseases. Therefore, I suggest a container with a drainage hole(s) and a quality potting soil or potting mix, or a 50/50 combination thereof, for planting. Optionally, you can add 10 to 20% pumice or Perlite to the soil mixture to help with drainage.
Choose a container that is large enough to allow for 2 to 3 years of growth before shifting up to a larger size container. This might mean your planting pot would be 8 inches or more in diameter (width) than the root ball of your plant.
Container color will matter as well. Not only will you want to pick a color of container that goes well with the foliage and flower colors of your Spirea, you'll also want to pick a container that matches the style of your home or other structures and other plants in the surrounding environment.
Many nursery & garden centers offer a wide variety of containers to choose from. Before heading out to buy a container take pictures of your home and the surrounding environment. Doing so will help you to choose just the right color and style.
Container Planting Instructions
Before filling your container with the soil mix, I recommend lining the bottom with shade cloth or a porous landscape fabric. This will keep the drain holes from becoming clogged with roots and soil. If you place gravel or other materials in the bottom of the pot lay the fabric over it.
To remove your Spirea from the container it was growing in first squeeze the sides of the pot to loosen the root ball. The very gently try to remove the root ball from the container. If the root ball is stuck in the container use snips or a utility knife to cut the container away. After having removed the plant from the container, gently loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball.
Pour a small amount of your soil mixture in the bottom of the container. Set your plant in the container and make necessary adjustments by adding or removing some soil so that the top edge of the root ball will sit approximately 1" below the rim of the container.
Backfill with your soil mixture around the root ball, tamping as you go, until the level of potting soil is even with the top edge of root ball.
Water thoroughly until water starts to drain from the holes in the bottom of the container. Add more soil mixture if settling occurs during watering.
Step 6 (Optional)
Apply a 1/2" layer of wood chips or sphagnum moss to soil surface to help conserve moisture.
Caring For Bridal Wreath Spirea
Bridal Wreath Spirea plants are very easy to care for and maintain. Following the tips and instructions below will have you growing them like the pros.
How To Fertilize Bridal Wreath Spirea
In The Ground: Fertilize your Spirea growing in the ground in late winter or early spring with a slow-release shrub & tree type fertilizer or a natural, organic plant food. Before applying fertilizer, always carefully read and follow instructions on the product label.
In Containers: Fertilize Spirea growing in pots and other containers in early spring and again in early summer with a slow-release granular plant fertilizer or water soluble liquid fertilizer listed for use in containers.
How To Water Bridal Wreath Spirea
At Planting Time
Immediately after planting deep soak the soil in the planting area to a depth equal to the height of the plants root ball. For an extra boost, to stimulate early root formation and stronger root development you can also water you newly planted Spirea with a solution of Root Stimulator, which reduces transplant shock and promotes greener, more vigorous plants. When planted during the winter dormant season plants will require less water. So, be extra careful not to overwater during winter!
During the First Growing Season
In average garden soil you should not have to water your newly planted Spirea every day. More often than not, this causes soggy soil conditions that can lead to root rot and other harmful plant diseases. In the absence of sufficient rainfall, water only as needed to keep the root ball and surrounding soil damp to moist. Keep in mind that deep soaking less frequently, and allowing the soil to dry out somewhat before watering again, is much better than splashing just a little water on the plants every day.
When established, Spirea are moderately drought tolerant plants that will require supplemental water only in prolonged periods of summer drought. If you see leaves wilting or curling, or stem tips drooping, this is an indicator your plants could use a deep soaking.
Spirea growing in containers will require more frequent watering, especially during the hot summer months. Use your fingers or a moisture meter to check soil moisture frequently. Provide water when the top 2 inches of soil has become dry.
Note: When watering with an automated irrigation system it's best to set your timer to water during the early morning hours and not in the late evening or at night, which can lead to the onset of fungus and other foliar diseases. During the first few weeks after planting, check soil moisture often and adjust irrigation time if necessary to keep the soil moist, not wet.
How To Prune Bridal Wreath Spirea
Bridal Wreath Spireas do not require pruning however respond well to it. They bloom in the spring from flower buds that formed on the branches the previous summer. Therefore, pruning in late summer, fall or winter will remove flower buds effecting the spring bloom. Late summer or fall pruning removes the growth which then reduces the number of buds on the shrub. For a full blooming season, the shrub needs pruned as soon as the flowers fade. This early pruning allows the spirea to grow new branches and still set buds for the following year so your bridal wreath spirea glows in your landscape.
Pruning An Established Bridal Wreath Spirea
After all the flowers have faded in spring, you can prune to shape your Bridal Wreath Spirea or to reduce it's size. At this time, first remove any damaged or dead branches or stems. If the shrub has grown too dense, rather than prune off the top of the shrub straight across, I suggest a more selective pruning that will maintain the natural rounded and mounding form of the shrub while opening it up so sunlight can get in. Start pruning by removing older branches to encourage new growth. Older branches are darker in color and woodier. Remove some branches from the center of the plant to thin it and allow sunlight to reach the new developing branches. Make your cuts at the base of the shoot. Avoid removal of more than 1/3 of the spirea's stems to avoid damaging the health of the plant.
Note: If you just lop off the top of the shrub, the cut stems will send out new shoots that may intertwine with each other and look unsightly.
Rejuvenation Pruning Of Old Spirea
When an old Bridal Wreath Spirea has become weak and spindly or has outgrown the space it was intended to fill, rejuvenation pruning may be necessary. The rejuvenation pruning can be performed after flowering in spring, however I suggest doing it in late winter, when the plant is still dormant. At this time all shoots/branches can be cut back to 6 inches or so in height using bypass hand pruners or loppers. Ne growth should flush when soil temperatures begin to warm in spring.
Plant Long & Prosper!
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