Neon Flash Spirea Shrubs

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

Neon Flash spirea with its flashy flowers.
David Beaulieu

Neon Flash spirea is just one of several shrubs in its genus that has made a big splash in North American landscaping. Find out how it differs from other spirea bushes so that you can make an informed choice between them all when shopping. Learn, too how best to grow this plant valued for its bright flowers.

Botany of Neon Flash Spirea Bushes

Plant taxonomy classifies this bush most often as Spiraea japonica Neon Flash, but you will often see Spiraea x bumalda Neon Flash used, too as its botanical name (Neon Flash is the cultivar name).

Spirea plants are classified botanically as broadleaf, deciduous flowering shrubs. They belong to the rose family.

Features of the Shrub

The cultivar name 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 Needs

The species plant is indigenous to Japan. You can grow this bush in planting zones 4 to 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 about their growing needs, planting them in a loamy soil enriched with compost will promote the best 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 to encourage reblooming. But Gold Mound and Goldflame 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 Features, Other Popular Spirea Bushes

One outstanding feature of spirea bushes, in general, is that they require little maintenance. Maybe you grew up with a Vanhoutte spirea (S. x vanhouttei) in your parents' yard that has not received much attention for decades. Even after such neglect, it may well still produce clusters of white flowers (looking like nonpareil candies) every spring. Neon Flash spirea is also low-maintenance, but this pink-flowering shrub adds colorful "flower power" to its resume. Those seeking interesting foliage colors may select Gold Mound spirea (S. japonica Gold Mound), which lights up a landscape with its golden leaves. The foliage of Goldflame (S. japonica Goldflame) is not as bright as that of Gold Mound but offers a two-toned effect. Both Gold Mound and Goldflame bear pink flowers.

Another pink-flowering shrub is the Anthony Waterer spirea (S. japonica Anthony Waterer). In fact, Neon Flash is considered an improvement on Anthony Waterer, which has been around longer. Bridalwreath spirea (S. prunifolia) has white flowers, but, unlike on the Vanhoutte, the flowers are larger, double, and do not appear in such tight clusters. 

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 comes 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 get 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).