Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
When we are looking for seasonal material for floral design, donít forget flowering shrubs. Though the stems arenít always available commercially on a regular basis, these plants are often present in our landscapes. The spirea or spiraea is an example.
Depending on the cultivar, the spireas bloom either during the spring or summer. Some of the newer varieties, particularly the Japanese spireas, tend to be everblooming during the summer.
Though the growth habit can vary somewhat from one kind of spirea to another, the stems can be arching or upright. The vase life can vary as well. Typically, they will last for about five to seven days. These are used as filler flowers in floral design.
The very small blossoms appear in clusters. When viewed up close, they resemble apple blossoms for a good reason. Along with the roses and other common tree fruits, these belong to the rose family.
Easy to grow, spireas require very little attention. Adapted to most reasonably moist soils and exposures, most of these do well in full sun to partial shade. They have few insects or diseases problems except for maybe a few aphids on the new growth from time to time.
While it is true that many kinds of spireas tend to have white flowers, others may have pink or purple or even red blossoms.
For cut flowers, the taller growing kinds are better. In that respect, some of the dwarf Japanese spireas arenít as useful for cut flowers.
The size of the flowers can range from about ľ inch across to much wider. The perfectly shaped blooms have five sepals and five petals. Depending on the variety, these may be single or double-flowering.
Spireas have attractive foliage with toothed or lobed edges. This can add extra interest to floral designs.
The more you cut, the more you get. For a continuing supply of cut flowers, youíll need to keep cutting the flowering stems of the everblooming spireas. This encourages the plant to produce a new flush of flowers.
The word spirea comes from the Greek word for garland or wreath, which was an ancient use for flowers.
Among the more commonly grown spireas is Anthony Waterer. With deep pink blossoms, this grows to about four feet in height with deep pink blossoms. This remains a favorite landscape shrub.
Bridal veil spirea can reach about nine feet in height. It has gorgeous double white blossoms, and is very early flowering. The plant itself is scraggly and awkward looking. However, the blooms are just gorgeous.
The Thunberg spirea is another early-flowering white spirea. Flowering time of the spireas extend from as early as February in the South to August or so for others.