Double Play® Candy Corn SpireaSpiraea japonica 'NCSX1' (PP# 28,313)
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The Double Play® Candy Corn® Spirea is a new colorful replacement for the old Goldflame spirea, which is much more colorful and exciting. The new leaves are orange red, and they continue like that all summer. As the leaves mature they turn pineapple yellow, and then chartreuse green. Flower clusters are produced all summer, in a rich purple-pink. Fall colors are spectacular, from yellow and orange to red and purple. All this on a compact 2-foot bush that is incredibly tough and reliable. Grow it wherever you need color, in beds, as edging, as a low hedge, or in pots. You can never have too much of this great plant in your garden.
The Double Play® Candy Corn® Spirea will be at its colorful best in full sun, but it also grows in some partial shade. It thrives in poor soil, and in all conditions, including urban gardens, as long as the soil is not constantly wet. Established plants are drought resistant and normally free of pests or diseases. This plant has been bred to be sterile, so it does not seed and it can never become invasive.
Even old favorites can use an update, so we were thrilled to see an improved and more colorful version of the old Goldflame spirea arrive on our farm. Everyone loves these colorful little spireas, because they are so useful in shrub beds for all-season color, and they are so amazingly durable and tough as well. When we first saw the Double Play® Candy Corn® Spirea in spring we couldn’t believe the brilliance and showiness of the candy apple red new growth. It really popped in the garden, adding so much color for so little work. Then the leaves turned a great golden yellow, and since the new leaves continue to be red, it remains bright all season. In fall the bush becomes a kaleidoscope of colors, from reds, yellows and oranges to purples.
The flat heads of dark purple-pink flowers that come out all summer take it to another level of brightness. They do not produce seed, so there are no seed heads to remove, and this plant is completely non-invasive and safe to grow anywhere. It is time to forget the old Goldflame, and if you have some tired old plants of it around your garden, it’s time to let them go and bring in the new generation.
The Double Play Candy Corn Spirea is a mounding deciduous shrub that grows no more than 2 feet tall, and perhaps 2½ feet wide. It is a compact grower, always neat and attractive, with small leaves. These are spear-shaped, with serrated edges and a tough texture. They are 2 to 3 inches long, and abundant, making a dense, bushy plant. New leaves in spring are a deep orange red, while new leaves later in the year are brighter and more orange. As the leaves mature, they turn more golden, passing through many shades, with golden yellow predominating. Leaves deeper inside the bush become chartreuse green. This dramatic effect continues all summer, and your bush is always colorful, and always new. Starting in late spring it will also bloom. Each stem develops a cluster of small flowers in a flat head over one inch across. The blooms are sweetly fragrant, and they are a rich purple-red, much stronger and richer in color than older varieties of dwarf spirea. This rich color adds another layer to the bright color palette of an amazing bush, and blooming continues all through summer. Things really go crazy in fall, when after the first touch of cold the leaves turn a riot of colors, from gold, orange and red, to deep purple.
Wherever you need a splash of color in your garden, for an accent or to brighten a dull area, this is your go-to plant. Its small size makes it perfect for running a necklace of gold and red around your beds, as an edging. Plant a cluster of three bushes on either side of an entrance, or at the top of a set of steps, for a great accent. Grow it on terracing and slopes. Mix it in your flower beds or use it in planters and boxes. It can be planted alone, in groups, or as a continuous hedge. Space plants 18 or 24 inches apart for a continuous cover. There are so many places to use this great plant, and it is so easy to grow, that there is always the perfect spot for it in every garden.
Colder parts of the country can sometimes miss out on the brightest plants, but not the Double Play Candy Corn Spirea, which is hardy to at least zone 4, and probably in zone 3 as well. It does not grow so well in zones 8 to 10.
Grow the Double Play Candy Corn Spirea in full sun for the best colors, but it will also grow with a few hours of shade each day. This tough plant grows in any well-drained soil, and once established it is drought resistant too, in ordinary summer dry periods, and generally needs no extra watering.
You can pretty much ‘plant and forget’ with the Double Play Candy Corn Spirea. It needs no special attention, and pests or diseases don’t bother it. It can be pruned in early spring, before the leaves emerge, by removing older stems and trimming back the remaining sturdy ones by about one-quarter. This will keep your plant vigorous and fresh. It can also be trimmed in early summer, if you want to keep it as a hedge or neat border. It will soon re-sprout a whole new crop of colorful leaves.
Thomas Ranney is a professor at North Carolina State University, and he runs the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center, where new plants are bred using all the skills of professional plant breeding. He began early this century breeding spirea, using a rare wild species from Korea, Spiraea fritschiana, and the popular Japanese spirea, Spiraea japonica. Through several generations of cross-pollination, he found a plant that was colourful all season, and also produced no seed. Creating non-invasive forms was part of the professor’s breeding goals. This hybrid plant was patented by the University in 2017 as `NCSX1`. It is marketed by Spring Meadow Nursery, Inc., of Grand Haven, Michigan as Candy Corn®, one of their Double Play® range of new spirea bushes.
If you haven’t discovered the new spirea bushes that are now available, this is a great place to start. Tough as can be, and bright as a rainbow, you will love all the color it brings to every part of your garden. These plants are extremely popular, so order yours right now, while we still have stock available to supply you.