Steeplebush, Fernald Hardhack
Spiraea tomentosa

Family: Rosaceae (ro-ZAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Spiraea (spy-REE-ah) (Info)
Species: tomentosa (toh-men-TOH-suh) (Info)

Category:

Shrubs

Height:

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

Spacing:

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Danger:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Pink

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Foliage:

Deciduous

Other details:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Soil pH requirements:

4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

By simple layering

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Valparaiso, Indiana

Midland, Michigan

Panama, New York

Kunkletown, Pennsylvania

Middleton, Tennessee

Dutton, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

2
positives
1
neutral
1
negative
RatingContent
Negative

On Jan 13, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

It is a pretty, good, native plant for pollinating insects, but it must have a truely acid soil. I planted one I bought from a native plant nursery in southeast Pennsylvania in 2003. However, my good quality all clay soil was just barely acid of pH 6.9, in which the plant did not thrive. I got so busy, and the other prairie-meadow plants competed with it, and I think the rabbit munched on it in winter, and it died out on me. It showed iron chlorosis before it died out with yellowing foliage. If it did thrive, it would have ground suckered to some extent. It is a wonderful native plant that should be restored in forest and land preserves or be used in larger natural gardens of acid soil where it can be allowed to sucker.

Positive

On Jun 3, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Gorgeous spires of showy pink flowers.

A rare butterfly, Lycaeides melissa samuelis (Karner Blue), has been observed to nectar at the flowers of Steeplebush.

Native to North America (Native Distribution: Nova Scotia & N.B. to Quebec & e.c. MN, s. to NC, MS & AR). Makes a great hedge when planted 3 feet on center. Requires a rich, moist soil and full sun.

Positive

On Jan 1, 2010, growingranny from Dutton, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I have two of these in my gardens. I knew them as spiraea salicifolia, Willowleaf Meadowsweet. It is hard to find much information on this plant, it was here when I moved here. I assume since they bloom after May it is ok to prune them in the spring? I have never pruned them other than removing spent blooms but they didn't bloom as heavy last year so I am thinking I should prune them this spring?

Neutral

On Jan 30, 2005, Todd_Boland from St. John's, NL (Zone 5b) wrote:

This American species is another S. latifolia or S. alba look-alike. The flowers on S. tomentosa are also in a conical arrangement at the tips of the rect stems but their's are usually reddish-pink, but rarely white. the telling feature for IDing this species is the felty, greyish-white undersides to the leaves. Again, too invasive for a regular garden but OK for the wildflower or butterfly garden. It will also tolerate wet, acidic soil.