Summer flowering Spirea are known as invincible workhorses for hot, sunny, dry, hellstrip, deer-riddled locations where few other plants will perform as gallantly. Of course, Spirea also look fantastic in plant-friendly settings. Not only do they have lovely, pollinator-friendly flowers, the foliage turns brilliant shades of red, yellow, orange and/or purple in fall (depending on the cultivar).
It’s time that spring flowering Spirea receive the same praiseworthy attention! Many gardeners are familiar with the old fashioned Bridal Wreath Spirea. Spirea x vanhouttei ‘Renaissance’ is a superior cultivar with masses of white flowers covering arching branches. The blue-green leaves turn a lovely red-orange in fall. Spirea nipponica ‘Snowmound’ also has beautiful white flowers and blue-green leaves, but the stems are stiffer, less cascading than ‘Renaissance.
Birch Leaf Spirea (Spirea betulifolia) has a dense mounded habit. ‘Tor’ (white blooms) and ‘Pink Sparkler’ (pink blooms) have small, flattened flower clusters and only grow to 3’ – 4’, a bit shorter than the above-mentioned varieties.
Finally, Spirea thunbergii ‘Ogon’ (also known as ‘Mellow Yellow’), is the earliest blooming Spirea. White flower clusters along the stems appear in April before the shrub has fully leafed out. The willow-like foliage is a stunning gold that turns shades of orange in fall. It is pictured above in flower and on the right with its wispy golden leaves.
All of these deer resistant spring bloomers prefer full to part sun in well drained soil (they dislike wet feet). They are hardy to Zone 3 except ‘Ogon’ and ‘Snowmound’ which is hardy to Zone 4.