How to Grow and Care for Gold Mound Spirea

A Deciduous Shrub Grown for Its Spring and Fall Foliage

Gold mound spirea plant with golden pointed leaves and pink flowers in sunlight

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Gold Mound spirea is a deciduous shrub prized for its bright golden ovate leaves in spring, which turn a brilliant yellow in autumn. It has flat-topped clusters of tiny, bright pink flowers in late spring to mid-summer which attract butterflies. Other shrubs might produce showier flowers or more striking fall foliage, but this one excels in spring foliage. Later, the color changes to a golden green, which is less exciting. But then the shrub makes a comeback with its fall foliage in October, which is a yellow tinged with red.

This cultivar, a hybrid cross between S. japonica ‘Alpina’ and S. japonica ‘Goldflame’, is named for its golden leaves and for its mound-like habit: It matures at two to three feet tall and three to four feet wide. This, and the moderately fast growth rate, also makes it suitable for container growing. It should be planted in the spring or fall. 

Common Name Gold Mound spirea, Japanese spirea
Botanical Name Spiraea japonica 'Gold Mound'
Family Rosaceae
Plant Type Shrub
Mature Size 2 to 3 ft, tall, 3 to 4 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
Bloom Time Late spring
Flower Color Pink
Hardiness Zones 4-8 (USDA)
Native Area Cultivar, no native range

Gold Mound Spirea Care

Suitable for USDA cold hardiness zones 4 through 8, Gold Mound spirea is one of the easiest shrubs to grow, along with the similarly shaped variety Goldflame spirea. In the landscape, this small shrub looks good as an specimen, or planted in a group or hedge.

It is rarely bothered by any pests and diseases and deer usually leave it alone.

The flowers are suitable for cutting. If you deadhead the first blooms, it may bloom again.

Gold mound spirea plant with golden pointed leaves and small pink flower clusters in sunlight closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Gold mound spirea plant with small pink flower clusters closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Gold mound spirea shrub with small pink flowers and golden leaves in garden with trellises

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Light

Gold Mound spirea prefers full sun, when possible, but will tolerate light shade. Planting it in a sunny location helps to ensure the best color.

Soil

This plant will grow best in well-drained soil, although it tolerates clay soils better than some other shrubs. Amend the soil with compost as needed. Gold Mound spirea prefers a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5. Mulch for winter protection if you wish to grow them in USDA cold hardiness zones 4 or 5, just to be on the safe side. The plant is hardy to -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water

Every week during the summer be sure to thoroughly water this shrub (unless it rains steadily for several days, then you can skip a week). Water until the roots are saturated, but don't overwater; Gold Mound spirea doesn't like overly wet conditions.

Fertilizer

These hardy plants should be fertilized in late winter or early spring before new growth appears. A general-purpose garden fertilizer is fine. For the amount to use, follow the product label instructions. Be sure to water thoroughly after applying fertilizer.

Types of Golden Japanese Spirea

Because of the striking color of their leaves, Gold Mound spirea bushes are more suitable for use as specimen plants than is the cultivar Neon Flash, the latter bearing foliage that's nothing out of the ordinary. You can also use Gold Mound spirea as foundation shrubs or hedge plants.

Other cultivars of Spiraea japonica that have golden leaves and pink flowers and that are hardy to zone 4 are the following:

  • 'Magic Carpet' is a compact cultivar, ideal for small yards. It grows to just one to two feet tall, with a width of two to three feet.
  • 'Golden Elf' is even smaller than 'Magic Carpet'. This dwarf stands at just a little over six inches tall, with a width of one to two feet.
  • 'Lemon Princess' reaches one and a half to two feet tall and has a width of two to three feet.
  • 'Double Play Gold' also reaches one and a half to two feet tall and has a width of two to three feet.
  • 'Limemound' grows to two to three feet tall and three to four feet wide.
  • 'Golden Princess' also matures at two to three feet tall and three to four feet wide.

Pruning

Deadhead Gold Mound spirea after they're done blooming. This will foster some reblooming as the growing season progresses. The easiest way to deadhead in this case is by shearing. In addition to removing spent flowers, shearing will help you keep the shrub compact and generate new foliage (the newest foliage being the most colorful parts of this plant).

Pruning full branches is usually necessary only to remove suckers (if so desired) or to rejuvenate a mature plant. You can also prune branches to keep the plant extra-compact if you are gardening in a small space. Not all plants respond well to the drastic operation of rejuvenation pruning, but spirea is one that does. If you do decide to prune, you can do so in late winter to early spring without fear of losing your spring flowers because this plant blooms on new wood.

Propagating Gold Mound Spirea

The easiest way to propagate the shrub is by softwood cuttings.

  1. In late spring, using a sharp knife or pruners, cut a branch tip 4 inches in length. Remove leaves from the lower third and dip the stem in rooting hormone.
  2. Fill a 4-inch pot with potting mix and water until evenly moist but not soggy. Using a pencil or a stick, poke a hole in the soil that is deep enough to fit the leafless portion of the cutting. Insert the cutting into the soil and press it down.
  3. Place the pot in a bright location with indirect light, away from hot sun. Keep them moist at all times. When roots have begun to form (a sign is new leaf growth), you can transplant the spirea in garden soil or in a larger pot for container growing.

Growing from Seed

Although spirea tends to reseed itself, the seeds won't produce the same results as the parent plant because Gold Mound is a hybrid. Therefore the recommended propagation is from cuttings.

Potting and Repotting

Because of its compact size, this spirea is suitable for container growing. Choose a container at least one inch wider than the diameter of the plant's root system or its current pot, and make sure it has large drain holes. Terracotta pots are ideal because they let excess moisture evaporate and they are heavy enough to keep the plant upright in a wind.

Like all container plants, it needs to be watered and fertilized more frequently, about one every month during the growing season. Use a diluted all-purpose fertilizer, half the strength of what is indicated on the label.

Overwintering

Gold Mound spirea is hardy to USDA zone 4 and does not need any winter protection when grown in the ground. When grown in a container, on the other hand, the roots are not sufficiently protected from winter chills. You do not need to bring the plant inside but provide additional insulation around the container. You can either build an insulating silo, or wrap the sides of the container with bubble wrap, or burlap and an additional layer of plastic wrap.

How to Get Spirea to Bloom

If your spirea isn't blooming, it could be that it is not getting enough sunlight; the shrub needs full sun to bloom. Another possibility is over-fertilization with nitrogen, which produces foliage but no flowers. Cut back on the fertilizer, or, when you fertilizer it before the next growing season, use a fertilizer high in phosphorus.

Common Problems

Because Japanese spirea spreads rapidly by dispersing a large number of tiny seeds, and outcompetes native species in natural habitats, such as forests and meadows, it is considered an invasive plant in several US states.

FAQ
  • Is 'Gold Mound' spirea deer-resistant?

    Few plants are guaranteed deer-resistant but 'Gold Mound' spirea is a shrub that deer tend to avoid.

  • How do I protect my spirea in the winter?

    Japanese spirea is hardy to USDA cold hardiness zone 4 so it doesn't need any protection against freeze but it won't survive winters in colder zones. Because the shrub blooms on new wood, winter chills won't damage the buds.

  • Does spirea bloom all summer long?

    Under ideal conditions, Japanese spirea has an extended bloom from late spring into summer. If you deadhead the spent flowers, you can encourage a second, albeit lighter, bloom.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Spirea japonica 'Gold Mound'. NC State University Extension Service.

  2. “Spiraea Japonica ‘Gold Mound’ - Plant Finder.” Missouribotanicalgarden.Org, https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=264004&isprofile=0&