The Aptly Named Bridal Wreath Spirea
The Bridal Wreath Spirea, Spiraea prunifolia, is one of about 80 species of plants belonging to the Spirea genus. Its flowers are borne on long arching stems, and appear as rows of small clusters of snowy white flowers. There are anywhere from three to six blossoms in each cluster. Each cluster measures between two and three inches across. The slender arching stems can easily be bent to form a wreath of flowers, giving this species of Spirea its name.
Blooming Periods and Foliage
Plants belonging to the Spirea genus are either deciduous or semi-evergreen. The Bridal wreath Spirea is a deciduous bush. Its ovate-shaped leaves are between one and two inches long. The leaves are dark green in color and have a glossy texture. The leaves will often turn a golden orange in the fall, but that will usually happen only if the plant is growing in full sun. In most areas this Spirea will blossom too early to benefit a June bride, as its blossoms usually appear from late April to mid May. In cooler locations, where the weather does not noticeably warm up until about mid-May, it is possible to see some of these plants blooming in early June. This Spirea species can be grown as a very attractive specimen bush, or several can be planted together to form a thick hedge. S. prunifolia will grow to a height of about 8 feet, and to about the same width. When in full bloom, this bush is definitely a show-stopper. This is a nice bush to have in the garden as its dense branches offer song birds protection, and its small fruits and seeds provide food. During the blooming period this bush also attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Pruning is Often Optional
S. prunifolia is hardy in Zones 4 through 9, and is capable of surviving very cold and snowy winters. Those who own one or more of these plants consider them to be very low maintenance. Occasional pruning to remove dead branches is a good idea, and the plant can sometimes benefit from having a few of its interior branches cut out, unless it is being used as a hedge. Like most Spireas, S. prunifolia can withstand fairly heavy pruning, which can sometimes be necessary if it is desired to keep the height of the plant low. Some owners will cut their plants back nearly to the ground each fall. The plant will usually bounce back, yielding a full compliment of blossoms the following spring. If only a light pruning is necessary, it’s best to do it shortly after the blooming period has ended. The plant will continue to send out new branches until the leaves begin to turn in the fall.
A Low Maintenance Plant
This is an easy to grow and easy to care for plant, which is typical of Spireas. You can almost dig a hole anywhere, plop the plant or seedling in the hole and walk away. The odds are the plant will thrive, especially if planted in full sun. To make certain that will be the case however, it would be a good idea to place a little compost in the planting hole first, and make certain the plant is watered occasionally until it has become well established. This plant does not seem to be fussy at all about the type of soil it’s grown in, as long as the soil is well drained. Some owners place a little mulch around the bases of the plant each spring. Others don’t do anything special and would probably neglect the plant completely if it didn’t put on such a display each spring.
Related Species and Cultivars
Another species of Spirea that is sometimes called the Bridal Wreath Spirea is Spiraea vanhouttei. This bush also features multiple blossoms on arching stems. S. vanhouttei is not as large a bush as is S. prunifolia, and usually tops out at about 6 feet. Which species flowers will make the best wreath for the head is a matter of opinion. Both are attractive bushes, with blossoms on S. prunifolia perhaps being slightly more tightly bunched. From a distance, it can be difficult to tell the two species apart. Several related species and cultivars, which would also be candidates for wreath making include the Threelobe Spirea, the Fairy Queen Spirea, the Swan Lake Spirea, and the Compact Garland Spirea.
Both of these species, as well as other species of Spirea are sometimes used as windbreaks. In many locations there are roadside plantings of them, and in some instances they will be seen growing wild along roadsides. They are not considered to be invasive however. One of these bushes will often send up new shoots around its base, but the bush spreads out rather slowly, if at all.
Many of the different species of Spirea have a long life, and they at times may tend to become leggy with age. If one becomes leggy to the point where it is becoming unsightly, a little selective pruning will usually resolve the situation.