Time to Prune the Spirea

I post this picture of The Heap to warn you of what can happen if you do not prune your old fashioned spirea at least every other year

Spirea x vanhouttei run amok

This Spiraea x vanhouttei was only a little slip of a thing when Lois fobbed it off on me – admittedly quite a while ago. The house is 20 feet wide. The spirea is still on the march. How did this happen? Too much to do in early July, right after the thing gets done blooming, is how. Planting the second round of vegetables, weeding, mulching, seeing the friends deeply missed all winter when they were in Maine (where The Heap lives) and I was in the Hudson Valley.

Like forsythia and other spring blooming fountains, spireas are prettiest when there is  a firm hand regularly removing old stems right at the base. So this year I was firmly resolved to beat my way in there and get to it before there was one more season of “do as I say, not as I do.” Then I tore my knee. Can’t kneel or crawl. Unless some brave soul comes to the rescue, it looks like heaphood will triumph once more. 

Update, 4/12/09 – Kristi did come to the rescue, last fall. Now, of course, is a better time to prune spirea – and forsythia and a lot else. 

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  • Leigh Said,

    Ah, a knee injury . . . my deepest sympathy to you.

    My knees blew out in a matter two years or so, we still don’t know why. But last year was a disaster for gardening. I could hardly get around by midyear.

    I had both knees replaced in December. Now, after seven months of recovery, the light at the end of the tunnel is illuminating my world.

    I still can’t kneel . . . and perhaps never will again . . . but my stamina is back, I can climb a (short) ladder, and you’d be amazed at what you can accomplish if you’re willing to bend over. Thank God I gave up vanity several years ago, because I can’t be a pretty sight ass over teakettle in the garden, but I’m PLANTING STUFF again.

    I’m only 51, for heaven’s sake, and I should have quite a few years of blowin’ and growin’ ahead.

    My best wishes for a full recovery for you . . . I hope the injury can be repaired.

  • leslie Said,


    Thanks for all that (knowing!) sympathy…

    and mine to you – double, since you must cope with TWO unhappy knees.

    It sounds as though you’re making good headway, though, and there’s nothing like the garden for improving one’s mood ( even when it’s driving one crazy).

    I’m doin’ the double-over too, for many hours a day, and was extremely proud of myself for this unusual feat of athletics — until I boasted about it to my friend Dean, who told me his 90 year old grandfather ALWAYS gardened bent over double, all day every day.

  • Lisa Said,

    I think the “heap” looks pretty! Lisa

  • leslie Said,

    Thanks for saying so, Lisa,

    And I sort of agree. It DOES look prettier than things like those rigidly pruned forsythias, so as long as you don’t mind the ( comparative) paucity of blossoms –
    and don’t need to look out the living room windows – it’s one less thing at just the time when one less thing is particularly delightful.

    hope your spring is going well

  • aleta Said,

    I just picked up a spirea today- found some aphids on it after I got it home~! 🙁
    but anyway, thanks for the warning on keeping it under control!

  • leslie Said,

    Hi Aleta

    no worries – or at least none unless the spirea is horribly infested and has been for a long time. It’s probably just weak from the stress of being potted ( and perhaps not given the best of care while waiting to be bought). Aphids are drawn to stress as bees to the flowers.

    If you can, try giving it a dose of insecticidal soap, then keeping it in the isolation ward for 10 days or so. Then another dose of soap before planting where it is to remain.

    If you can’t ( say for instance it’s already in the ground), give its companions a bit of soap too, as a prophylactic against spread.

    Mercifully, they’re tough. Good luck – and happy pruning!

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