The Q&A Archives: Goldflame Spirea

Question: I'm thinking of putting in goldflame spirea along my white picket fence. How far apart should they be planted and how soon can they go in? Are they OK in clay soil? I would also welcome suggestions to an alternative perennial shrub which would grow together to form a free-form hedge that would not require too much trimming. Again in clay soil.

Thank you!

Answer: Spiraea x bumalda 'Goldflame' (S.x 'Goldflame') grows about three feet tall and a bit wider than that, I would probably plant them about three feet apart for an informal hedge effect. Keep in mind though that this shrub is cut back quite hard in early spring each year before it starts to grow for the season. This removes winter damaged branches, and stimulates vigorous new growth and better blooming. Some people will also shear it lightly after blooming to remove the faded flowers. You might also consider the Knockout rose, this is actually a low maintenance shrub that needs just an early spring trim and no deadheading. You could also consider some of the littleleaf lilacs such as Palabin. Another even lower maintenance plant might be dwarf cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum opulus Nana), which requires very little pruning, if any. All of these will grow in full sun and tolerate a clay based soil (with ample organic matter added to it) as long as the area is relatively well drained, meaning for example, not at the bottom of a slope where water collects and keeps it quite wet/saturated at times. Your local professional nursery staff may have additional suggestions based on a more detailed understanding of the planting site and your design goals. Good luck with your project!

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