Miniature Spireas are an increasingly popular alternative to their larger cousins. Regular Spirea can often grow to a height of almost 7 feet (210 cm), and while they look absolutely stunning, some gardeners prefer smaller, more compact Spirea cultivars.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the different types of Dwarf Spirea, the ideal conditions for growth, and troubleshoot some common pests and problems.
Dwarf Spirea varieties
When choosing the ideal plants for your garden, there are a few things to consider. So, before you pick a Dwarf Spirea just because it looks great, it’s best to know its growing conditions.
1. Little Princess Spirea
2. Little Bonnie Spirea
3. Dwarf Bridal Wreath Spirea
Dwarf Spirea Care Guide
Once you’ve picked your favorite Dwarf Spirea bush variety, you’ll need to know the optimum growing conditions.
Dwarf Spirea grows best in moist, loamy, well-draining, slightly acidic soils. Most gardens have a soil pH ranging between 6.0 and 7.0, which is perfect for these plants. It doesn’t require too many nutrients, however, if your soil is too acidic or alkaline, it limits the availability of nutrients, which can stunt your Spirea’s growth.
Always make sure to provide your Dwarf Spirea with proper drainage, as it can’t stand having ‘wet feet’. This plant loves moist soils, but if your soil is too compacted or boggy it can be harmful to it. If your garden has clay-heavy soils, you will need to use amendments such as coarse sand or grit to ensure proper drainage.
Meanwhile, sandy soils will allow the water to drain too fast, causing the soil to become dry fairly quickly. In these cases, you will need to add compost, peat moss, or mulch, which will also add a touch of nutrients to otherwise poor soil.
When planting Dwarf Spirea, leave a space of around 5 feet (150 cm) between each bush. This plant may be more compact than its taller cousins, yet it needs plenty of space to grow properly. You can plant Dwarf Spirea 3 feet (90 cm) apart if you’re going for a tight hedge look, however, make sure to regularly prune and trim the bushes.
Depending on the cultivar, Dwarf Spirea can tolerate a bit of shade, but it needs at least 6 hours of sun per day for best growth. Varieties such as Little Bonnie and Little Princess can grow in partial shade without too much fuss. On the other hand, Bridal Wreath Spirea prefers full sun exposure.
Giving your Dwarf Spireas enough sun is essential if you’re growing them for their main feature: the spectacular flowers. More sun exposure means more clusters of flowers, as well as vivid, vibrant colors and lush foliage. If you notice that your Spirea is producing very few or small ‘bouquets’ of flowers, that is usually a sign that it’s growing in too much shade.
Dwarf Spirea has different watering needs, depending on how old the plant is. When young, make sure to water regularly, usually twice a week, depending on how hot it is. It may take up to 3 or 4 months for the plant to establish once you’ve planted it in your garden.
Mature Dwarf Spirea can be quite tolerant to drought, especially specimens that are several years old. If you live somewhere that gets regular rain throughout spring and summer, you don’t need to worry about watering your Spirea at all. You can also add mulch around the base of the plant, which will preserve the moisture in the soil.
These plants don’t need much feeding, making Dwarf Spirea fairly low maintenance in this regard. Applying a slow-release, granular fertilizer once a year is more than enough to get it through the growing season. It’s best to do this in spring, once the chance of any frost has passed.
Dwarf Spirea is a hardy plant. It can tolerate both heat and frost, and temperatures ranging from -30°F (-34.4°C) to 86°F (30°C). All Spirea varieties are deciduous, losing their leaves in autumn and growing them back again at the start of spring.
Dwarf Spirea growing outside, directly in the soil, should have no problems getting through the snow and frost. However, if you’re growing it outdoors in a pot, you will need to either bring the pot inside during winter or insulate it, to prevent the roots from freezing.
Dwarf Spirea: Common pests and problems
In general, Dwarf Spireas are fairly resistant to pests. These plants come from the same family as roses, so they will encounter the same types of pests.
Here’s how to tackle the most common Dwarf Spirea problems.
– Fire blight
This bacterial disease causes leaves and young stems to turn brown and wilt. It affects young growth, and it can be a common Little Princess Spirea problem or other varieties that bloom on young wood. If you discover fire blight on your plant, trim off any infected twigs and branches as soon as possible
Make sure to sterilize your shears or scissors with a bleach or alcohol solution after each cut, to prevent further spread. Unfortunately, fire blight spreads very fast and it has no cure, so if you notice it continues to spread after the trim, removing the entire plant is the only solution.
– Powdery Mildew
A fungal infection that covers leaves, stems, and flowers with a layer of gray powder. Dwarf Spireas that are growing too close together, without proper air circulation, or growing in too much shade, can be susceptible to it.
You can control the spread of powdery mildew by spraying your plants with a horticultural oil solution. Regular pruning and planting your Dwarf Spireas in full sun are also good preventive measures.
These small insects are a very common pest with roses, and also with Dwarf Spirea varieties. You will usually see them clustered in thick, brown, or green masses, around the flowers or younger stems.
The easiest way to get rid of aphids is by spraying your shrubs with liquid soap (such as castile soap) and water solution. Alternatively, you can also use ladybugs: they are the aphids’ natural predators, and you can even buy the live insects from nurseries.
– Root rot
Dwarf Spirea can become susceptible to root rot if grown in soil with poor drainage. Once root rot has set in, salvaging your plant is impossible, so take care not to overwater and ensure that heavy soils are mixed to provide better drainage. This can be one of the most common Little Princess Spirea problems, so be sure to check your soil regularly.
Pruning and maintenance
Although Dwarf Spirea suffers from just a few pests and problems, it doesn’t exactly look after itself. In fact, it will require regular pruning and trimming to produce new, healthy growth.
So let’s take a look at how to tackle that.
– Summer pruning
Dwarf Spirea starts blooming in spring, for around a month and a half. But if you prune and trim it twice a year, after each flowering, you can enjoy a second flush into late summer as well. Throughout summer, you will need to regularly remove the wilted flowers (or deadhead them) to encourage more growth.
Given the fact that Spireas produce abundant flowers with short stems, removing them one by one may be time-consuming. What we recommend is doing an overall pruning session when almost three-quarters of the flowers on each bush have started wilting.
To give your Dwarf Spirea a summer ‘haircut’, you can either use a pair of garden scissors, or for larger shrubs, even a small hedge trimmer. Cut the flowers above the first two leaf nodes on each stalk. It is important to deadhead any flowering plants unless you want them to seed. If you leave the flower heads on the bush for too long, the plant will focus its energy on creating seeds, and it won’t produce further flowers that season.
If you’re growing Dwarf Bridal Wreath Spirea in your garden, you will need to give it its annual trim in summer, right after the end of the flowering season. This variety doesn’t typically require much maintenance, and giving it a rounded, contoured trim will spoil its unique charm. Instead, simply trim any branches that are too old or have grown too long, to maintain their shape.
– Winter pruning
Late winter is the best time to prepare your Dwarf Spireas for another year of abundant flowering. In order to do this, you will need to trim them down as much as possible, to encourage new growth. When pruning Little Princess Spirea, for example, you can cut it as short as 3 inches (9 cm) above the ground. Don’t worry if your plants look a bit ‘massacred’ at first — they will grow back in spring!
It is important to note that not all Dwarf Spireas should be pruned in winter. Varieties that bloom on new wood, such as Little Bonnie and Little Princess, will benefit from a late winter trim. Use a pair of garden scissors and cut any twigs that are too thick or too long or any that are misshapen. Try to remove as much old wood as possible, as those twigs will not produce flowers, and will just overcrowd and overshadow the younger, blooming stems.
However, Dwarf Bridal Wreath blooms on old wood, so if you trim it in winter, it might not produce any flowers in spring. For Bridal Wreath, you will need to prune it after the blooming season has ended, and only trim the longer or broken twigs in winter.
Dwarf Spireas are enjoying more and more love from avid gardeners, due to their abundant flowers, resistance to pests, as well as versatility in landscaping.
So if you’re thinking of adding them to your garden, here are the main things to remember:
- Most Dwarf Spireas are as small as 3 feet tall and wide.
- These plants can tolerate partial shade but will grow best in full sun.
- Dwarf Spireas have few pests, usually the same ones as roses (aphids, mildew, etc).
- Regular pruning and deadheading are essential to produce new growth and abundant flowers.
- Varieties that are blooming on new wood need to be pruned in late winter.
- Meanwhile, varieties blooming on old wood need to be trimmed in summer, after the flowering season has ended.
Now all that’s left to do is to enjoy your favorite Dwarf Spirea varieties and admire them as they bloom better than ever!