Bridal Wreath (Spiraea prunifolia)

Bridal Wreath, Bridal Wreath Spiraea, Bridal Wreath Spirea

Bridal wreath spirea (Spiraea prunifolia) is a flowering tree native to China, Korea and Japan. Bridal wreath spirea is considered easy to grow and is often cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens. It blooms in spring.

I. Appearance and Characteristics 

Spiraea prunifolia, commonly called bridalwreath spirea, is a species of the genus Spiraea, sometimes also spelled Spirea. It flowers mid-spring, around May 5, and is native to Japan, Korea, and China. It is sometimes cultivated as a garden plant elsewhere.

Bridal wreath spirea is also known as Spiraea prunifolia. Speira is a Greek word which means wreath, as in reference to the clusters of white, showy flowers that grow on the shrubs of this plant family. The specific epithet, prunifolia, comes from the word Prunus. It means the plant has leaves like plants in the genus Prunus.

Noted for its gorgeous spring blooms and brilliant fall color, Spiraea prunifolia (Bridal Wreath) is an upright, clumping, deciduous shrub with gracefully arching branches. In early to mid-spring, a profusion of double white flowers held in clusters of 3-6 blossoms appear along the naked branches. The foliage of small, elliptic to ovate, finely-toothed, shiny dark green leaves turns attractive shades of red, orange, and yellow in the fall.

Bridal wreath spirea grows best in full sun, well-draining loamy or acidic soils, withstanding wintery weather and summer temperatures, growing naturally in zones 5 through 8.

II. How to Grow and Care

Sunlight

Bridal wreath spiraea (Spiraea prunifolia) grows best in climates with plenty of sunlight. It prefers full sun to partial shade and should receive at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. When grown in full sun, this plant will flower profusely and remain healthy throughout the growing season. In shadier areas, the flowering will be less prolific and growth may be stunted.

This plant can tolerate a wide range of temperatures but prefers cool summer conditions with hot, sunny days and cooler nights. It should be protected from extreme temperatures and drought. It is best planted in locations with protected areas from direct afternoon sun to keep the leaves from wilting.

Watering

For bridal wreath spiraea, water regularly during its first growing season to ensure adequate establishment. During the warmer months of the year, the plant should be watered every 7-10 days. Water deeply so that the soil is moist to a depth of 8-10 inches. Once established, water the plant once a week during periods of low rainfall or drought. In colder months, reduce the amount of water and water only during warm and dry spells. Avoid over watering the plant which can cause root rot.

Soil

This plant is not picky about the soil it’s planted in and can thrive in clay, loam, and even acidic soils. Its most significant need is well-draining soil so the roots never sit in water.

Fertilizing

Add a 2-inch layer of compost over the soil under the shrub every spring. This is usually sufficient to feed the plant, and it will also help to retain moisture and prevent weeds. Additional fertilizing is not necessary and may even reduce flowering.

Pruning

This plant tends to spread through suckering, so ground suckers will need to be trimmed off if you want to keep the shrubs confined.

If desired, the shrubs can be pruned for shape or size immediately after the spring flowering period. Always use clean, sharp pruning shears. A good pruning routine is to remove all dead wood, as well as some of the oldest stems, all the way to ground level. This will open up the center of the shrub to sunlight to reinvigorate it. Tips of branches can also be trimmed to control the shrub’s size.

Propagation

Cuttings 

The best way to propagate bridal wreath spirea shrubs is by rooting softwood cuttings during the active growing season. To do so:

  • Cut segments of flexible stem tips 6- to 8-inches long. Remove the bottom leaves from these trimmed segments. Dip the cut end into powdered rooting hormone.
  • Fill a 6-inch pot with moist potting mix, then plant four or five prepared stems around the inner edge of the pot, embedding the exposed nodes into the potting mix. Cover the pot with a large plastic bag and seal it.
  • Place the pot in a dappled shade and allow the cuttings to root over the next few weeks. Check periodically to make sure the potting mix remains moist.
  • After about four weeks, you should see new, green growth on the stems, indicating that roots are forming. At this point, repot the cuttings into individual containers, then tuck the pots into a sheltered location and allow them to continue growing until they go dormant in winter. The following spring, transplant the rooted cuttings into the garden. It generally takes no more than a single year in the pot before these plants are ready for garden use.

Remember that it is technically illegal to propagate trademarked or patented cultivars. If you are planting a named cultivar, check the plant labels for indications that the plant has been granted or is pending copyright protection. If so, it should not be propagated in any way.

Seed

Although not common, seed propagation is possible. Seedlings will take several years to grow into mature landscape plants, which is why propagation is usually through vegetative means, such as softwood cuttings. It’s best to plant bridal wreath spirea in the spring so it has ample time to develop its root system in time for winter.

  • Sow the seeds collected from seed clusters in the spent flowers immediately after you collect them.
  • Place the seeds in a damp paper towel in a dark area until they sprout, and plant the sprouting seeds in 12-inch pots.
  • After planting, cover the pot with plastic wrap and set it outside in the sun. The seedlings should sprout within a few weeks.
  • Remove the plastic once the seedling emerges.

Pests and Diseases

  • Common Pests & Plant Diseases

There are no serious pest or disease problems for the bridal wreath spirea, but they can be mildly susceptible to many diseases and insects that attack other members of the rose family. These include leaf spot, fire blight, powdery mildew, root rot, aphids, leaf roller, and scale.

  • Common Problems 

Bridal wreath spirea is an easy, mostly care-free plant. But there are a couple of issues you may encounter.

Shaggy, Spindly Growth

This plant usually grows in a shaggy way. But if you want an elegant, cascading plant, opt for S. japonica cultivars or hybrids. Bridal wreath spirea is a better choice for large yards where you need an easy-care background shrub that provides a natural, woodsy transition to adjoining property.

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves can be a sign of not enough sun, too much water, or drought. Nearby growth or a building’s shadow can affect its sun exposure. Ensure the plant gets ample water, but its soil should not be too soggy.

Overwintering

These hardy shrubs generally require no winter protection against cold. Their spiny stems make them reasonably resistant to deer browsing, but rabbits sometimes nibble on them when the plants are young, so a protective wire mesh screen is a good idea for young shrubs.

III. Types of Bridal Wreath Spirea

Bridal wreath spirea is scientifically called Spiraea prunifolia and is native to China, Korea, and Taiwan.

  • S. prunifolia ‘Plena’: The common bridal wreath spirea. Spiraea prunifolia has been in cultivation since 1864 and is regarded by some as inferior to modern cultivars.2 But it can still be a dependable and easy-care shrub for more informal landscapes, often seen around farmhouses and rural residences.
  • Spiraea prunifolia var. simpliciflora: A naturally occurring single-flowered form is rarely found for sale.
  • Spiraea x vanhouttei: A hybrid shrub, a cross between S. trilobata and S. cantoniensis. This hybrid is similar to S. prunifolia but is a larger specimen growing as much as 12 feet across and is hardy to zone 3.
  • ‘FiregoldTM’, ‘Gold Fountain’, and ‘Pink Ice’: Common cultivars of S. x vanhoutttei

IV. How to Get Bridal Wreath Spirea to Bloom

  • Bloom Months

Bridal wreath spirea typically blooms robustly in spring, usually in April, before the stems leaf out.

  • How Long Does Bridal Wreath Spirea Bloom?

Bridal wreath spirea blooms for about 10 days to two weeks.

  • What Do Bridal Wreath Spirea Flowers Look and Smell Like?

The flowers are small, grouped in clusters of three to six, only white with a tinge of green with no distinguishable fragrance. Other spirea species may have colored flowers (usually pink or purple) but are S. japonica or Japanese spirea cultivars.

  • How to Encourage More Blooms

Flowering is minimal with new shrubs, but after a year, you should experience good flowering, provided the shrub gets plenty of sunlight. This plant doesn’t bloom more robustly if you fertilize it. Excessive fertilizer will likely yield fewer flowers.

  • Caring for Bridal Wreath Spirea After It Blooms

Pruning at the wrong time can also remove the flower buds and cause a temporary loss of flowers. These shrubs bloom on the previous year’s wood, so they should be pruned immediately after they flower. If you prune too late in the fall or early spring, you will likely remove the stems containing the buds that will produce spring flowers.

Bridal Wreath (Spiraea prunifolia) Details

Common name Bridal Wreath, Bridal Wreath Spiraea, Bridal Wreath Spirea
Botanical name Spiraea prunifolia
Plant type Shrub
Hardiness zone 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
Growth rate Medium
Height 4 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
Width 4 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
Sunlight Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
Soil condition Clay
Flower color White
Leaf color Green