How to Prune a Spirea

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Are you wondering how to prune a spirea? It’s actually quite easy! Just follow these simple steps and you’ll have a beautifully pruned spirea in no time.

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Pruning is a very important horticultural process. By selectively removing certain parts of a plant, you can encourage growth in other areas, improve the plant’s overall health, and even make it more aesthetically pleasing. The type of pruning you do will depend on the plant species involved as well as your own personal preferences.

Spirea are definitely one of the easier plants to prune. These deciduous shrubs are incredibly tough and resilient, so you can really go to town without worrying about causing too much damage. In general, spirea benefit from being cut back quite severely every few years. This encourages them to put out lots of new growth, which keeps them looking fresh and lively.

There are two main types of spirea that you might encounter – bridal wreath spirea (Spiraea x vanhouttei) and Japanese spirea (Spiraea japonica). Both of these varieties respond well to hard pruning, so don’t be afraid to get stuck in!

What is a Spirea?

Spirea are a genus of about 80 to 100 species of flowering plants in the rose family, native to much of the Northern Hemisphere. They are mostly deciduous shrubs growing 1–5 m (3.3–16.4 ft) tall, with clusters of small flowers held in corymbs or panicles. The flowers may be pink, white, or cream, and many hybrids and cultivars exist.

The leaves are spirally arranged, simple, and usually trifoliate with ovate, obovate or crenate leaflets; in some species they are simple and entire. The leaves are often coloured different shades of red before they fall in autumn.

When to Prune

Spirea is a shrub that blooms on old wood, meaning last year’s growth. Because of this, it is important to prune spirea immediately after it blooms. If you wait too long, you will cut off the flower buds for next year’s blossoms.

How to Prune

Pruning spirea is generally done in late winter or early spring, before the plant’s new growth begins. The best time to prune will depend on the type of spirea you have and the climate where you live. Check with your local cooperative extension office for more specific information.

To encourage bushier growth, spirea can be pruned quite hard. This type of pruning is called renewal pruning and should be done every three to five years. When renewal pruning, cut all of the stems back to about 6 inches (15 cm.) from the ground. This may seem drastic, but spirea are very resilient and will quickly send out new shoots.

For less severe pruning, wait until after the plant has flowered and then cut back about one-third of the oldest stems to the ground. This will promote new growth and result in a fuller plant.


While growers may have their favorite ways to prune spirea, here are some general tips that will help you get started:
-First, remove any dead, diseased or broken branches.
-Cut back any crossing or rubbing branches.
-Thin out the center of the plant to allow more light and air circulation.
-Prune side stems back to just above a bud pointing in the direction you want the branch to grow.
-Make sure all cuts are clean and at a 45-degree angle.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books

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