How to Prune a Spirea

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Spirea in the home garden requires a bit of regular care and maintenance. This involves pruning, but the techniques aren't all that difficult. Follow these steps to prune spirea.

Tools and Materials Required

  • Garden loppers
  • Hand-held pruners

Why Pruning is Necessary with Spirea

According to garden experts on shrub pruning, there are two basic reasons to prune deciduous shrubs - including spirea. First, prune to rejuvenate plants that have become overgrown or have a tangled mass of stems at the base. Second, prune to renew plants, promoting new growth and encouraging more flowers to bloom.

Plant shaping of spirea can be accomplished by either rejuvenating or renewing.

Pruning Spring-Blooming Spirea

If the spirea in question blooms from late spring to early June, the flowers are formed from last season's buds. Experts recommend pruning spring-blooming spirea, such as Bridalwreath and Snowmound, within 2 weeks after the shrubs flower.

  1. Cut out undesirable branches at the ground level.
  2. Trim and shape the plant or size it with necessary cuts.
  3. If numerous new stems are present coming out of the base, cut out the old and dark stems completely (cutting right back to the surface of the soil). This helps encourage new growth.
  4. If no proliferation of stems exists, prune back all the branches to about two to three remaining buds - or three or more low-lying side branches.

Pruning Summer-Blooming Spirea

Spirea that blooms in mid-June to late summer - such as Spirea japonica - requires pruning blooms when the plant is dormant. This is because they bloom from buds on new growth wood, or growth that has occurred this growing season. Follow these steps:

  1. To make a large spirea smaller, cut back to about ½ or 1/3 the size.
  2. After initial pruning, take a good look at the spirea. Experts say you can't prune it back too hard, so it may be worth taking out the loppers and excising a bit more.
  3. Remove fading or spent flowers at any time if their appearance is unsightly.

Tips on Pruning Spirea

Always use clean and sharp garden tools. Clean with a wire brush. Rinse in a bucket of cold water. Sharpen with sharpening tool. To disinfect, use one part chlorine bleach to 9 parts water.

Remember that the idea is to allow the spirea to follow its natural shape. In most cases, this is a rounded or mounding shape. It's not recommended to try to force a Bridalwreath spirea into a uniform shape of a box hedge. That's an unnatural shaping.

Generally speaking, cut out damaged or unnecessary stems and branches. Only prune drastically when needed due to overgrown or severely neglected spirea bushes.

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