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Hardhack Spiraea tomentosa

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
spy-REE-ah toh-men-TOH-sah
Description

Spiraea tomentosa, or Steeplebush, is an upright, multi-stemmed, suckering, deciduous shrub that can grow to 4 feet high with a slightly larger width. It is native to wet meadows, wet pastures, boggy areas, marshes, fields, and lake margins from Nova Scotia south to Louisiana and Georgia. As it's native location suggests, the plant needs moist acidic soils in order to grow well. This trait makes it a good selection for moist locations in the landscape or as a low hedge for paths and walkways. This is a flowering shrub with tiny pink to rose to rose-purple flowers clustered, top to bottom, on 4 to 8 inch terminal spikes that bloom from mid-summer to early autumn. These flowers attract butterflies.

Steeplebush is easy to grow in average, acidic, moist to wet soils in full sun. It will tolerate a wide range of soil and light shade, but a site with full sun is best for maximum blooming. You should remove faded flower clusters as soon as practicle to encourage additional bloom. The plant flowers on new wood, so prune in late winter to early spring if needed. This a vigorous plant that will spread by suckers to form colonies. The root system is woody and branching. The woody stems often die down to the ground during the winter.

Insects, Diseases, and other Plant Problems:

No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to many of the diseases that attack other rose family members, including leaf spot, fire blight and powdery mildew. Potential insect pests include aphids, leaf roller, caterpillars and scale. The caterpillars of some moths are known to feed on the leaves. Although White-Tailed Deer have been known to browse on Steeplebush, it is not preferred as a source of food because of the bitter and astringent foliage. Avoid Japanese spiraea, an invasive species, especially in the North Carolina mountains.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#deciduous#shrub#moths#native shrub#hedges#NC native#flowering shrub#deer resistant#native garden#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#moth larvae#butterflies#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#deciduous#shrub#moths#native shrub#hedges#NC native#flowering shrub#deer resistant#native garden#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#moth larvae#butterflies#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Spiraea
    Species:
    tomentosa
    Family:
    Rosaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Northern and Central Europe, Eastern United States
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts butterflies.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    tolerates deer
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Rounded
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3b, 3a, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Follicle
    Fruit Description:
    Each flower is replaced by 5 small brown follicles that are ovoid with short beaks. Each follicle splits open at the apex to release several slender seeds. Fruits become available September-October.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Rounded plumes of deep pink to rose-purple flowers in dense, narrow, steeple-shaped, terminal spikes (to 4 to 8 inches long) that bloom July through September. Individual flowers are a little less than ¼" across, consisting of a short calyx with 5 teeth, 5 spreading petals that are usually pink (less often white), a cluster of 5 pistils, and numerous exerted stamens. The delicate petals are well-rounded and rather wrinkled. The abundant flowers bloom from the top of the panicle downward, gradually turning brown. There is no noticeable floral scent. They bloom July-September.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Dark green egg-shaped leaves to 3 inches long with coarse marginal teeth are tapered at both ends and densely tomentose (yellowish-brown hairs) beneath. No fall color. Leaves are abundant along the stem; they are 1½–3" long, ½–1¼" across. The upper surfaces of the leaves are dark green and hairless, while their lower surfaces are more pale and covered with hairs.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The central stem is terete and brown; it is initially covered with woolly brown hairs, but later becomes hairless and woody. The central stem terminates in a dense panicle of pink flowers about 4-8" long and about one-third as much across. The panicle has a narrowly pyramidal shape with short lateral branches that are ascending or spreading. These branches are covered with short tawny hairs.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Hedge
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Erosion
    Salt