Gold Mound spirea is a deciduous shrub that is prized for its bright golden leaves in spring, which turn a brilliant yellow in autumn. Other shrubs may give you better flowers or more striking fall foliage, but this one excels in spring foliage. It is named for its gold leaves, of course, but also for its mound-like habit: It matures at 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide.
Suitable for USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 8, Goldmound spirea is one of the most common deciduous shrubs grown in the U.S., along with the similarly shaped varieties Goldflame spirea and Crimson Pygmy barberry. In addition to its colorful foliage, it displays clusters of bright pink flowers in late spring to midsummer.
- Botanical Name Spiraea japonica
- Common Name Gold Mound spirea
- Plant Type: Deciduous shrub
- Mature Size: 2 to 3 feet tall; 3 to 4 feet wide
- Sun Exposure: Partial to full sun
- Soil Type: Clay
- Bloom Time: Late spring
- Flower Color: Pink
- Planting Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
- Native Area: Japan
How to Grow Gold Mound Spirea
Gold Mound spirea's foliage is best at two times of the year: one in spring, the other in fall. In April, you will marvel at the bright golden color of the new leaves. Later, the color changes to chartreuse, which is less exciting. But then the bush makes a comeback with its fall foliage in October, which is a yellow tinged with red. Its clusters of tiny pink flowers (called corymbs) appear in late spring, and the plant can flower again if you deadhead the first blooms.
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.
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. Mulch for winter protection if you wish to grow them in zones 4 or 5, just to be on the safe side. The plant is hardy to -30 F.
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 don't like overly wet and humid conditions.
These hardy plants should be fertilized in late winter or early spring before new growth has had a chance to start. A general-purpose garden fertilizer is fine. Be sure to water thoroughly after applying fertilizer.
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. They are fine plants to attract butterflies.
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 1 to 2 feet tall, with a spread of 2 to 3 feet.
- Golden Elf is even smaller then Magic Carpet. This dwarf stands at just a little over 6 inches high, with a spread of 1 to 2 feet.
- Lemon Princess reaches 1.5 to 2 feet tall and has a width of 2 to 3 feet.
- Double Play Gold also reaches 1.5 to 2 feet tall and has a width of 2 to 3 feet.
- Limemound grows to 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide.
- Golden Princess also becomes 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide.
Deadhead Gold Mound spirea bushes 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 accomplishing the removal of spent flowers, shearing will help you keep the shrub compact and generate new leaves (the newest leaves being the most colorful ones on this plant).
Pruning full branches is usually necessary only to get rid of suckers (if so desired) or to rejuvenate an old bush. You can also prune branches to keep the bush extra-compact if you are landscaping in a small space. If you do decide to prune, you can do so in late winter to early spring without fear of losing your spring flowers, since this plant blooms on new wood.
Not all bushes respond well to the drastic operation of rejuvenation pruning, but spirea is one that does. Prune it in late winter or early spring to rejuvenate an old Gold Mound spirea.