Neon Flash Spirea Shrubs

How to Grow, Care for, and Use Them in Your Landscaping

Neon Flash spirea (image) has flashy flowers. The foliage offers little interest.
With Neon Flash spirea, it's all about the flashy flowers. David Beaulieu

Taxonomy and Botany of Neon Flash Spirea Bushes

Plant taxonomy classifies this bush as Spiraea japonica 'Neon Flash' (sometimes given as Spiraea x bumalda). The cultivar, 'Neon Flash' is one of many from which to choose in this popular group of landscape plants.

Spirea plants are classified botanically as broadleaf, deciduous flowering shrubs.

Characteristics of the Shrub

The cultivar name, 'Neon Flash' indicates the brilliance of this plant's deep pink flower clusters.

Flowers bloom in early summer. Neon Flash sends multiple stems (covered with dense green foliage) straight up from its base and reaches 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide. Leaves have a bit of reddish color in them in spring; that same color reappears in fall, only darker. The foliage offers a relatively delicate texture and can form a contrast with larger-leafed plants such as oakleaf hydrangea.

Geographical Origin, USDA Planting Zones, Sun and Soil Requirements

As you probably guessed from the species name, japonica, the species plant is indigenous to Japan. You can grow this bush in planting zones 4-8 in North America.

Plant it in full sun to partial sun and in a well-drained soil. While one of the good points about spirea bushes is that they are not fussy to grow, planting them in a loamy soil enriched with humus will encourage optimal performance.

Uses in Landscaping

Neon Flash bushes may be attractive enough to use as specimen plants for the summer, when they bloom, provided that you are industrious enough to deadhead them faithfully (see below) to encourage reblooming.

But 'Gold Mound' and 'Goldflame' (see links below) are better-suited to serve this function.

You can also mass them together in landscaping property lines or grow them in front of a house, as foundation shrubs.

Care for Neon Flash Spirea Shrubs

Pruning is optional, as these plants stay reasonably compact.

But if you do wish to prune Neon Flash spirea bushes to improve their appearance, here is how to proceed:

  • Prune back the oldest few branches to ground level every other year.
  • Some prune the remaining branches in early spring (these spirea bushes bloom on new wood) to within a foot or so of the ground, to encourage vigorous new growth).
  • Also, Neon Flash spirea bushes will flower again if you deadhead or lightly trim them after the initial blooming.

Outstanding Feature of the Shrub, Wildlife Attracted to It

One outstanding feature of spirea bushes, in general, is that they require little maintenance. I grew up with a Vanhoutte spirea in my parents' yard; neglected all these many years, it still produces its display of white blossoms every spring. Neon Flash spirea is also low-maintenance, but this pink-flowering shrub adds colorful "flower power" to its resume. Another pink-flowering shrub is Anthony Waterer spirea. Those seeking interesting foliage colors may select 'Gold Mound' spirea, which lights up a landscape with its golden leaves. 'Goldflame' is not as bright but offers a two-toned effect.

Neon Flash is a plant that attracts butterflies. It also attracts birds and bees.

"Spirea" Bushes: Meaning Behind the Name

In English, we have dropped the first "a" in the Latin genus name, Spiraea, to arrive at "spirea." But the Latin name, too, has some history behind it.

The name derives from the Greek, speiraira, which had been a plant that the Greeks used to make garlands. That name, in turn, is based on the Greek word, speira (coil, twist, wreath), from which we derive the word "spiral" (one twists or "spirals" plant material around itself in order to make a garland). So if you have ever wondered if spireas have anything to do with spirals, the answer is yes (in terms of etymology) and no (in terms of how we use spirea bushes today).