Spireas are some of the most popular deciduous landscape shrubs, including the attractive Goldflame spirea (Spiraea japonica 'Goldflame'). This compact flowering shrub is particularly beloved for its colorful foliage that offers contrast to the basic greens predominantly found in most landscape shrubs. Its oval leaves begin as a bronze-red color when they emerge in the spring and then transition to a bright yellow-green in the summer before finally turning an attractive copper-orange in the fall before dropping from the plant for winter. Clusters of pink flowers appear in the early summer, and the shrub sometimes blooms again later in the summer. Goldflame spirea has a moderate to fast growth rate and should be planted in the spring or fall.
|Botanical Name||Spiraea japonica 'Goldflame'|
|Common Names||Goldflame spirea, Japanese spirea|
|Mature Size||3–4 ft. tall and wide|
|Soil Type||Loamy, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral|
|Hardiness Zones||4–8 (USDA)|
Goldflame Spirea Care
Goldflame spirea works well as a specimen planting or grouped as a low hedge or walkway border. It typically is quite easy to grow, tolerating a range of conditions. And it doesn’t have any major pest or disease problems. While it tends to attract butterflies and other pollinators, garden pests such as deer usually ignore it.
You won’t have much maintenance to do to keep this shrub looking its best. Simply feed it annually, and water it whenever the soil begins to dry out due to a lack of rainfall. Pruning should be done at least annually. But because these are fairly small shrubs, it’s usually not a major task.
This shrub prefers to grow in full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. Too little light can lead to poor foliage color and reduced flowering.
Goldflame spirea can tolerate a wide range of soil types, including clay soil. But it thrives in a rich loamy soil with good drainage. The shrub likes a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH but also can tolerate a slightly alkaline soil.
Water new shrubs regularly to maintain lightly moist (but not soggy) soil. Mature spirea shrubs have some drought tolerance but still prefer a moderate amount of soil moisture. So water whenever the soil becomes dry. But don’t allow the roots to sit in pooled water, as this can lead to root rot.
Temperature and Humidity
Among the spirea shrub varieties, Goldflame spirea is known for its good heat tolerance. In general, it is quite hardy to the temperature swings within its growing zones. And typically humidity is not an issue unless high humidity causes the soil to remain soggy.
This shrub is not a heavy feeder. Apply a slow-release, general-purpose garden fertilizer in the early spring as new growth is just beginning. It also can be beneficial to mix some compost into the soil around the shrub.
Goldflame spirea does not need excessive pruning. The plant blooms on new wood, so in the late winter or early spring while the shrub is still dormant, prune off any dead or damaged branches. Also, clean up the shrub’s shape if necessary by taking out any unsightly or weak stems. Then, in the summer, remove the spent blooms and lightly prune the stems once flowering is complete. This can encourage a second bloom for the season.
Japanese Spirea Varieties
Besides Goldflame spirea, there are several other species and varieties of spirea shrubs, including:
- Spiraea japonica 'Magic Carpet': This variety has slightly more cold tolerance than Goldflame, and its leaves transition from red to gold throughout the growing season.
- Spiraea japonica 'Little Princess': This shrub has a dense, low growth habit, and its bright green leaves turn bronze in the fall.
- Spiraea japonica 'Anthony Waterer': This popular variety features frilly clusters of bright pink flowers, and its foliage goes from blue-green to red in the fall.
- Spiraea japonica 'Double Play Doozie’: This variety flowers continually from spring to fall with purple-red blooms.
- Spiraea japonica 'Double Play Big Bang': The foliage on this variety starts bright orange before turning golden for the summer and then back to an orange-gold for the fall.