Content Detail

Birchleaf spirea is a great small, rounded shrub, reaching 3 to 4 feet high. It has white flowers in early summer with dark green, birch-like leaves. The leaves turn a kaleidoscope of red, orange, and purple in fall, adding seasonal interest. It can be used for butterfly gardens and in the front of the shrub border. It may be difficult to find in local nurseries.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale North America
  • Size range Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet), Small shrub (3-5 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest late spring, early summer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Mounded, Multi-stemmed, Round
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size and form: 

Birchleaf spirea is a rounded to mounded small shrub reaching 3 to 4 feet high and wide.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

This plant is native to northeast Asia and Japan. It is found in open meadows, slopes, and rocky areas.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife: 

Birds and butterflies are attracted to its flowers.

Bark color and texture: 

The stems are slender, brown, and have slightly peeling bark.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

The leaves are alternate, 2 inches long, egg shaped to rounded, birch-like, with toothed margins. The fall color is a kaleidoscope of orange, red, and purple.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Clusters (corymbs) of white, flat-topped flowers appear in mid-summer.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

The fruit is a dry follicle and is not ornamental.

Plant care: 

This shrub does best in full sun to part shade. It is tolerant of a wide range of soils, but prefers moist, well-drained soil. It flowers on new wood, so prune in early spring, if needed. Removing the wilted flowers will promote more blooms. The plant is shallow-rooted and benefits with a layer of organic mulch to conserve soil moisture.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Leaf spots, mildew, aphids, and scale insects can be problems on this plant.

Tor Birch-leaved Spirea (Spiraea betulifolia ‘Tor’): 

This is a dense, compact rounded plant that reaches 2 to 3 feet high. The dark green, birch-like leaves turn orange, red, and purple in fall. 

First Edition®Pink Sparkler™ Birchleaf Spirea (Spiraea betulifolia ‘Courispi’):

This is a 3 to 4 feet high and wide, rounded cultivar. It has pink flowers in spring and a repeat bloom in the fall. Its blue-green leaves turn burgundy red in fall.


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