Compact flowering shrubs that ask for very little attention, but always look attractive, are a garden asset to be cherished. The Little Princess Spirea is exactly that – reaching around 2 feet tall and about 3 feet wide, seemingly always showing some flowers, and thriving in most garden situations with no significant care needed. With its cheerful pink flowers and easy-going habits, this a plant that belongs in every garden, big or small. It is especially useful for all those spots where beauty needs to be combined with low-care. The Little Princess Spirea is always in high demand so our top-quality stock will not last long!
Growing Little Princess Spirea Shrubs
The Little Princess Spirea is a deciduous dwarf shrub that can be used alone in a small garden, or planted in colorful groups in a larger one. It is also small enough to grow in planter boxes and even large pots, where it will be attractive for months on end without the need for constantly-changing annual flowers. It also grows easily as a low informal hedge, at the front of a bed or around a patio. Just trim once a year in early spring and it will always be neat and attractive.
Small bright-pink flowers are carried in clusters above the leaves, and these are long lasting. Flowering begins with a big display in spring and continuing all summer and even with some forming in early fall (depending on the weather and location). The leaves are small, just ¼ long on thin shoots but up to 1 inch long on robust new growth. They are oval in shape, with a toothed edge, but soft and not spiny at all. From spring to fall they are an attractive mint green color, but when the colder weather of fall arrives, they turn bright, vibrant shades of red, adding their color to this most colorful time of year. This plant has a dense, compact habit that is always neat but relaxed, so it fits perfectly into gardens of any style.
Climate and Hardiness
If you live in the colder areas of the country (specifically in zones 5 and 4), then you know that it can be hard to find a variety of plants to beautify your garden. You don’t have time to protect plants and take elaborate precautions against the cold, so you need easy-care plants. The Little Princess Spirea is about as easy-care as it gets, yet this is a plant that is beautiful too, and one that adds color and interest for months and months. It handles temperatures down to minus 30 without a care, and emerges in spring from the snow ready to go. It has no significant pests or diseases, and it can easily handle normal summer drought without a problem.
Uses in the Garden
Plants of the Little Princess Spirea grow between 1½ and 2½ feet tall, and usually 3 feet across, or even a little more if they are never pruned. This is an ideal size for a specimen in a small garden, and groups of them look very effective in larger beds too. They can be planted in front of taller shrubs to create depth, or in a row to fill a narrow space, perhaps alongside a driveway or at the foot of a fence. This plant is also a good choice for planter boxes, since it does not have a large root system, so it will thrive for years in a limited amount of soil.
Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions
Little Princess Spirea grows most strongly in full sun, but it is happy in partial shade too. It will grow in almost any soil that is not constantly wet, and once established it needs no special attention during the normal dry periods of summer.
Trimming and Maintenance
All that is needed to keep it neat and full of flowers is a light trimming in early spring. Some gardeners choose to remove about one-third of the stems at that time, removing the thinnest, and then shorten back the thicker stems. This keeps the plant more compact and encourages lots of flowers. For an informal hedge, space plants 2 feet apart and trim quite hard in early spring. No further trimming is needed for a neat hedge that is constantly in bloom.
History and Origins of the Little Princess Spirea
The Japanese Spirea (Spiraea japonica) is native to northern parts of Japan and China, and it has been cultivated there for hundreds of years. The wild plant itself is never seen in gardens and almost all the varieties grown were introduced from Japan in the 19th and 20th centuries. The ‘Little Princess’ variety has an obscure origin, and seems to have been first developed in England, at the L. R. Russell Nursery in Windelsham in that country. What may be the same variety was also reported from Holland, and listed in 1953 in the Grootendorst Nursery catalogue.
Whatever its origins, the Little Princess Spirea proved to be an extremely popular variety that is just as popular today as when it was first introduced. Spirea plants are very variable if grown from seed, and cheap seedling plants are never as attractive as selected varieties such as this, so avoid ‘bargains’ and stick to quality!