Gold Mound Spirea

Shrub Grown for Spring, Fall Foliage

Goldmound spirea bush in bloom.
David Beaulieu

The cultivar name for Gold Mound spirea was chosen with this bush's main selling point in mind: its golden leaves. Other shrubs may give you better flowers or more striking fall foliage, but this one excels in spring foliage. Learn all about planting and caring for this springtime superstar.

Taxonomy, Botany of Gold Mound Spirea

The taxonomy of Gold Mound spirea is Spiraea japonica Gold Mound. The latter is the cultivar name, which is apt on two levels: the color of the leaves and the shape or "habit" of the bush.

Gold Mound spirea is a deciduous flowering shrub. The genus is part of the rose family. The plant is a hybrid. For this reason, an alternate scientific name for the plant is Spiraea x Gold Mound.

Description of the Plant

This bush produces pink flowers clustered together in flat-topped flower heads (as on yarrow plants, for example). The shrubs bloom in late spring. These plants attain a height of about 3 feet tall with a slightly greater spread. The habit is mounding.

You grow Gold Mound spirea bush for its leaves, not its flowers. And folks grow it in great numbers, so if you're the type who doesn't wish to plant what your neighbors are growing, it may not be the best selection for you. According to Ohio State University, Goldflame spirea, Crimson Pygmy barberry and this bush "are the three most common deciduous shrubs of small stature in landscapes of the Eastern and Midwestern United States."

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.

Planting Zones, Sun and Soil Needs

Gold Mound spirea bushes are suited to planting zones 4 to 8. Mulch for winter protection if you wish to grow them near the northern limits of that range, just to be on the safe side.

They grow best in full sun and in a well-drained soil, although they tolerate clayey soils better than some shrubs. Amend the soil with compost as needed.

Uses for Gold Mound Spirea Shrubs in Landscaping

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. Other possible uses include as foundation shrubs and as hedge plants. They are fine plants to attract butterflies.

Clipped spirea (Spirea) 'Gold Mound' and ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) 'Diablo'
Mark Turner / Getty Images

Care for Gold Mound Spirea

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 only necessary 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.

Similar Types of Japanese Spirea

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. 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.

Outstanding Feature of Gold Mound Spirea

This shrub is, no doubt, valued most as a foliage plant. There are also evergreen shrubs with golden foliage. Add to these choices the vine, golden hops, and you can see that the plant world is eager to oblige you in your quest for a landscape that glitters.

Even on overcast days, plants with golden leaves will brighten up your landscaping. It's also fun to combine them with plants of various other colors. For example, you can juxtapose them with plants that have dark flowers (so-called "black flowers") or leaves. They also look good combined with blue flowers.

Cultivar Name Confusion

The cultivar name is sometimes spelled as one word: Goldmound. The same confusion (one word or two?) exists over the spelling of the cultivar name for a similar bush: You will see listings for both Spiraea japonica Goldflame and Gold Flame.