Pruning Spirea japonica (Spiraea japonica)

Landscape Care · Written by Roger


This is a type of Spirea japonica.  This family of spirea includes many varieties such as ‘Little Princess’, Gold Mound’, ‘Shirobana’ (pictured) and others.

Often this plant grows out of its space and needs a good pruning.  Well, this is the time to do it (i.e. late winter – early spring) before the leaves start to come out.

Spirea japonica is one of those plants you can cut back quite severely and it will flush out in new growth and look fine for the season.  Flowering will not be affected either because it flowers on new growth.

How To Prune Spirea japonica

If its an older Spirea japonica you could do an overall cutting back.  With this approach you can literally cut the stems to your desired size.  I like to also thin the plant by pruning out some of the thicker, older stems right at the base.   The plant will love the rejuvenation…and so will you.

Research Before You Prune

You can learn so much about a plant with a little research.  Of course nothing substitutes for experience, but a quick “look-up” can avoid a costly mistake.  In terms of pruning you should be concerned not only with how (best technique), but also when to prune.  Plants are different from one another in so many ways and when you begin to understand these differences it really shows.

Everyday I see overgrown landscapes and unhealthy plants.  Most of these problems could have been avoided with a little research and plant knowledge.

I’ll continue to post articles to share with you many of the experiences I’ve had (and continue to have) in my career.  I really enjoy talking about it and hopefully you’ll gain some helpful tips.

Do you have a plant that you’re unsure how and when to prune?  Just leave a comment.

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    6 Responses to “Pruning Spirea japonica (Spiraea japonica)”

    1. David Clark Says:

      when and how to fertilize spirea? would plant benefit from superphosphate? Should plant be mulched?

    2. Roger Says:

      You can fertilize in the spring.
      I would simply broadcast a granular fertilizer at the base of the plant – not close to the stems & trunk, but rather more outward towards the dripline.
      I’d use an organic based fertilizer such as Plant-tone by Espoma.
      With regard to using a super-phosphate, it’s unlikely you need to, but only with a soil test would you know if extra phosphorous is needed. In my area soil tests consistently show adequate to high levels in the soil. When I did plant fertilizing I would use fertilizers with little or no phosphorous.
      Mulching would help the spirea too. Here’s a short article on the blog about mulching.

    3. Edward Geisler Says:

      Should the dead blooms be pruned from the spirea as they die back? Will this produce more blooms?

    4. Roger Says:

      If you don’t mind looking at the spent blooms I’d just let them fade as they will.

      New blooms form on new wood the following year. And I don’t think removing dead blooms would have any affect on new blooms (quantity or quality) the following year.

    5. Mary Kay Says:

      Hi Roger…’s my lucky day as I just stumbled onto your website! I have a question about abelia…have it in a raised bed in front of my house, southern exposure and I irrigate the bed. I thought abelia was an evergreen, but these shrubs lost a lot of leaves over their first winter and I wasn’t that cold ..that I remember. Also, they shot out tall “spikes” from the center, and I didn’t know what to do with that part….was kind of goofy looking as the rest of the shrub was “looser, or floppy”….so some advice on maintenance would be appreciated…….

    6. Roger Says:

      Mary Kay,
      Once you have Abelia in a northern climate, i.e. Zone 6 or lower, it reacts more like a perennial. It will likely lose its leaves and some of its stems can die-back too.

      Prune out any deadwood and prune back the long, wayward stems to neaten up the plant.

      Abelia are acid loving, so you could feed them with Hollytone. They also prefer moist soil, but not wet. Be careful not to over-water.

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