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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)



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

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

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


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


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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:


Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

By simple layering

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


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:


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. 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.


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.


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?


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.