Double Play™ Big Bang SpireaSpiraea fritschiana x japonica 'Tracy' (PP# 21,588)
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Spiraea fritschiana x japonica 'Tracy' (PP# 21,588)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Double Play® Big Bang® Spirea is a bright addition to any garden, bringing vibrant spring colors of orange, red and yellow, followed by the biggest flower heads of any Japanese spirea, packed with bright-pink blossoms. These keep coming from late spring all through summer, and the new growth continues to be colorful. Less than 3 feet tall, this tough shrub is ideal for edging large beds, planting in drifts or singly in smaller beds, on slopes and among rocks, and in planters as well.
Planting in full sun is best place for the Double Play® Big Bang® Spirea, but it will take a couple of hours of shade each day without any problem. It grows in all soils, as long as they are well-drained, including poor urban soils, clay, and rocky ground. Tough and resistant to ordinary summer drought, you won’t see significant pests or diseases on this bush, and deer normally won’t don’t touch it.
Creating a good garden that you can handle with your available time, and that is interesting, is a juggling game. It is easy to make the mistake of growing nothing but special plants you like the sound of, but a better approach is to fill most of the space with easy, low-maintenance plants, leaving some room for special ones too. That way you can manage it better, and enjoy those special things even more. One of the most reliable groups of smaller shrubs for cooler zones are the Japanese spirea. These tough plants take cold, and they thrive with almost no attention. But another great tip for getting the most from your garden is to choose improved versions of classic plants, so you really get the ‘best of the best’. That is exactly what the Double Play® Big Bang® Spirea is – a big improvement on the ordinary Japanese Spirea, and a plant that is just as tough and reliable, and as easy to grow. Plus, you get much larger flower heads that make a big show of those pink flowers, and the bonus of red and yellow foliage in early spring, making as powerful a display as the blooms do. Plant it wherever you need spaces filled with reliable plants that also deliver lots of color and interest – it’s a win-win all round with this great shrub.
The Double Play Big Bang Spirea is a mounding deciduous shrub, growing 2 to 3 feet tall and wide, and maintaining a neat profile without trimming. Many branches grow from the base, keeping it vigorous and full for many years. The small leaves are carried in clusters all over it, so it always looks bushy. The pointed leaves are 1½ inches long by 1-inch wide, oval, with an interesting jagged edge and a broadly pointed tip. They are smooth, but not particularly glossy. New leaves in spring emerge in beautiful tones of reddish orange, turning to bright yellow before maturing to a medium green. New growth through the season is similar, with a more muted orange tone turning greenish-yellow before becoming maturing green.
Flowering begins in late spring and continues throughout the summer, with the biggest show at the first blooming. The flower heads are bigger than you will see in any other Japanese spirea, growing a generous 3 inches across, packed with about 200 tiny bright-pink flowers. They really make this a real ‘flowering shrub’ and not just a ‘shrub with flowers’ – a great garden show for sure.
The Double Play Big Bang Spirea is an incredibly useful shrub – you can grow it almost anywhere, and it takes on so many garden jobs. Use it alone in smaller beds, or tucked in to fill a stray corner. Plant it in larger groups to really fill your beds and give a rich look to your garden. Grow it in a continuous row at the front of larger beds, or as an easy low hedge anywhere. For group planting or hedges, space the plants 18 inches apart for a continuous flowing look that will crowd out weeds. Plant it in pockets of a rock garden, on slopes, or on the levels of terracing. Use it in tubs or planter boxes too – it looks great anywhere and everywhere in your garden.
In all but the hottest parts of the country, this shrub will thrive. It is especially useful in zones 3 and 4, where the choices are more limited. Not suitable for zone 8 or warmer, as it needs winter cold to develop properly.
The best growth is seen when planted in full sun, but don’t worry – a few hours of shade for part of the day won’t cause any problems at all. Any well-drained soil is suitable, or any type, including poor urban soils and both heavy clays and rocky ground. ‘Tough’ is the word that best describes this reliable shrub. Once established it has good resistance to normal periods of dryness.
The Double Play Big Bang Spirea is untroubled by pests or diseases and a big bonus is its resistance to deer, who almost always leave it alone. As for trimming, a light trim after the first flowering is a guarantee of many more flowers to come, and sets it up for a neat look over the rest of the year. In spring you can either do a quick trim back by about one-third, or a more detailed pruning, removing thin twiggy branches, and a few of the oldest ones, and shortening back the remaining stems.
Fritsch’s spirea, Spiraea fritschiana, is a white-flowered species of spirea from Korea and China that is not widely grown in gardens. Crossed with the Japanese spirea, Spiraea japonica, it has given us the Double Play® group of spirea. In 1995 Timothy Wood, a breeder with Spring Meadow Nursery of Grand Haven, Michigan, found a unique seedling of that plant, with red spring growth, and pink flowers, that he named ‘Wilma’. This bush is usually grown as Pink Parasols®. In 2003 he pollinated that plant with a Japanese spirea and grew a batch of seedlings. Among them was one that stood out for combining big pink flowers with orange spring growth, all on a compact and neat bush. He named it ‘Tracy’ and patented it in 2010. It is made available by Spring Meadow Nursery, Inc., of Grand Haven, Michigan as Big Bang®, one of their Double Play® range of new spirea bushes, under the Proven Winners® brand.
It’s easy to make a big bang in your beds with this great shrub. With very little effort you can bring a succession of colors to your garden. But don’t hesitate to get started, because these plants are hugely popular, and soon sell out – order now.