When and how should I prune Neon Flash spirea?

esther_bMarch 9, 2014

Last fall, I planted a Neon Flash spirea in my garden. It seems to have taken well, and sent up a bit of new growth before winter set in. Now that the massive snowfall has mostly melted away and I can actually SEE my spirea, I am wondering, as I long for spring, when I should prune this little guy and how to do it. I can hardly wait to see the deep pink flowers!!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i would not prune a recent transplant until ... at a min... the second year ... and probably not until the third year ...

and when you do.. you remove branches at about 3 inches to the ground...

never give it a haircut... IMHO ...

damage is damage.. remove it upon damage ...

crikey.. if this adds any perspective ..... you planted it last fall.. and it went into dormancy.. its been in the ground.. active for what.. 2 to 3 months.. and you want to hack on it ....?????


    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 5:50PM
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I'm not sure I'd necessarily agree with Ken's instructions :-) Depending on the size of the plant to begin with and how much growth it put on last season, it could very well need some tidying up. At the very least, any old flower heads can be removed. And while any spirea can be cut back hard, you don't necessarily need to. These are particularly tough shrubs and can be sheared back at will. I had a number of 'Magic Carpet' spireas planted in my old garden, primarily because of the great foliage color. I really disliked the pepto-bismol pink flowers so I would shear the plant back each time it budded up. The result was a dense and compact shrub with beautifully colored new foliar growth.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 1:15PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

For my spireas, I do somewhere in between what the above two posters recommend. As Gardengal suggested, I give them an aesthetic "tidying up" at least once a year and sometimes twice a year (when I walk by with pruners and they look deserving). But, as Ken suggested, I do occasionally (every few years and depending on plant vigor) prune back hard (pruning as close to the ground as I can get without going below the soil's surface or damaging the root crown). I find that my spireas look more full and get less splayed-out looking when a hard pruning back is occasionally done. Also, as with most shrubs, it keeps the plant growing more vigorously and minimizes older decaying stems.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 10:45PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

neither of you addressed the fact.. that they were planted minutes before they went dormant ... you have no qualms about giving a haircut to a newly planted plant ... topping it.. if you will ...

of course.. spent blooms can be removed.. as well as any broken pieces ...

regardless .... they are spirea ... and you are in NYC ... there is no way to kill them ... so do whatever you wish ....

but your neighbors will figure out a way ... lol .. or your beloved landlord ...


    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:11PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

You have to give it a haircut in order to remove the blooms. Get in there cut a few inches off...basically cut roughly right below the flower.

I do exactly what Brandon does. If I'm passing by I might cut the blooms off as described above in summer to then get another set in fall.

I see many spirea that look so sad and little do people know you just have to cut them back to a few inches above the ground.

One neighbor down the street actually dug up his spriea and put in a damn willow shrub. Don't know him so I couldn't just start making suggestions.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:29PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Ken, what I said was generalized and wasn't meant to apply specifically to a fairly newly planted spirea. But, I don't see anything wrong with some minor tidying up (a snip here and there, as the barber might say) if Esther's plant needs it and is growing well.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 2:12PM
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Ken, the new enemy of plantkind on The Neighbor's Plot side is the punk 20ish son (or illegal tenant?) of the Chinese upstairs next door neighbor. Of the Friday night knock-down drag-out fights with his significant other. Of the chintzy 99 cent store signs he stuck all over the garden I had just created. He is a pig, leaving cigarette butts all over their side of the lawn and some in my garden. The first time I saw a filthy disgusting cigarette butt in my garden, my ears laid back, my claws came out and my howls could be heard for blocks. But I decided to take the kindness route. What do you do with "lost" objects? You return them, of course! I meticulously picked up the 20+ butts this pig left all over the lawn and garden and "returned" them onto the porch. There is now a growing and disgusting collection of cigarette butts all around the ground on their side of the porch---you don't think the father (or illegal landlord?) of this punk could bother to stoop down, gather the butts and toss 'em into the garbage can right there, do you? Naw. He just kicks them off the porch onto the ground all around the porch and on the ground leading up from the hill to the side of the porch. What a comforting and soothing sight upon one's return home, I tell ya. It is indescribably disgusting.

Now, about my little spirea shrub--which happens to be planted in The Neighbor's Plot garden. You can see where the heavier canes end and newer, slighter growth began last fall. The newer growth is what it accomplished before our first freeze last fall. I was thinking of trimming it down to a bit below where last year's new growth begins, to stimulate some heavy new growth this year. THIS is the shrub I planted to act as a sunscreen for the delicate Midas Touch heuchie I planted there. It seemed to work, as the Midas Touch began to send up nicer looking leaves which were not sunburned after I planted Ms. Spirea.

The heavy snows actually removed some of the soil around one of the hostas' roots. The roots are now partially exposed, along with what should imminently be pips. Can hardly wait to see my little guys spring into action! Patience, after all that snow, is a rare commodity.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 12:13AM
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