Photo of Spiraea tomentosa

Spiraea tomentosa

Steeplebush

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Tiny densely clustered pink flowers attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Host plant for numerous butterfly and moth caterpillars.

See Details Below

Description:

Upright in shape and structure, this showy flowering woody shrub can appear as a dense growth of upright perennials. Tiny pink flowers are densely clustered on narrow, steeple-shaped, terminal spikes and bloom continuously for about 2 months, from mid-summer to early autumn. Removing faded flowers encourages more blooms, however birds eat the seeds if allowed to dry out on the stem. It flowers on new wood, so prune in late winter to early spring, as needed, although the woody stems may die down to the ground during the winter. Steeplebush prefers moist, acidic, sandy soil for best growth, although it tolerates a wide range of soil textures. Prefers full sun, but tolerates light shade. It’s astringent and bitter taste tends to discourage deer browse. Steeplebush spreads by suckers to form colonies, creating wide masses, appropriate for foundational plantings, covering moist areas in the yard, or as a low hedge. Its native habitat includes wet meadows, fields, pastures, bogs and marshes, as well as perimeters of ponds and lakes. Replace invasive Spiraea japonica with this native!

Wildlife Value: Flowers produce abundant pollen, but only small amounts of nectar. Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis), a rare butterfly, has been observed to nectar at the flowers of Steeplebush. Flowers are attractive to numerous pollinators including bees, flies, beetles, butterflies and moths. Host plant for caterpillars of the Sharp-Lined Yellow (Sicya macularia) and Spiraea Leaf-Tier Moth (Evora hemidesma). Birds eat the seeds.

Plant Details:

Plant Type: Flower, Perennial, Shrub

New Jersey Native: Yes

Bloom Times: Summer, Late Summer to Fall

Bloom Colors: Pink

Deer Resistance: Some

Attracts Pollinators and Wildlife: Bees and Other Pollinators, Butterflies, Birds

Salt Tolerance: Medium

Hardiness Zone: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b

Physiographic Region: All Regions in NJ

Soil Characteristics

Soil Type: Loam, Organic, Sandy, Clay

Soil Moisture: Well-drained, Medium-drained, Wet

Soil pH: Acidic, Slightly Acidic

Light Needs of Plant

Optimal Light: Full Sun

Light Range: Full Sun

Water Needs of Plant

Soil Moisture: Well-drained, Medium-drained, Wet

Drought Tolerance: Low

Size and Growth Rate

Height: 2 - 4 ft

Spread: 3 - 5 ft

Growth Rate: Medium