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Hort in the Home Landscape

A blog devoted to sharing timely horticulture topics and answering the questions of gardeners and homeowners.
2014-05-17 18 49 26

POTW: Bridalwreath Spirea

Plant of the week is back! This week I'm featuring the Bridalwreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia or Spiraea vanhouttei). You may have noticed it's lovely white flowers blooming now.

Bridalwreath spirea has clusters of white, double flowers in mid to late spring with branches that arch gracefully. It's best grown in full sun with moist, well-drained soils ideally, but tolerates dry sites as well.

The lovely flowers are followed by a nice orange-red to yellow-orange fall color. The shrub reaches 6 to 8 feet tall and wide in maturity making it a great shrub to fill the landscape. They are commonly massed to create a nice visual impact when flowering.

Extension Entomologist, Phil Nixon, discussed bridal wreath in this week's Home, Yard and Garden Pest Newsletter. He notes that this is a major phenology plant in Don Orton's book Coincide. With phenology, stages of plant development (usually bloom time) are used to predict stages in pest development. This method is more accurate than using calendar dates because the plant is exposed to the same climatic conditions as the insect. Thus, "early" and "late" springs associated with unusually high or low temperatures, respectively, cause similar responses in both plant and insect.

Phenology helps predict when pest stages susceptible to control are likely to be present, but it is not a spray guide. When a phenological event predicts that a pest is susceptible to control, one needs to scout to verify that the pest is present and in a susceptible stage before using a control measure. We include phenology information from Coincide in our University of Illinois Extension pest management recommendations published in the Illinois Commercial Landscape and Turfgrass Pest Management Handbook. Following are the most common pests that are in susceptible treatment stages during vanhoutte spirea bloom.

Full bloom: Birch leafminer young larvae; elm leaf beetle young larvae; European pine sawfly feeding larvae; gypsy moth feeding larvae; pine needle scale crawlers (first generation), black turfgrass ataenius (first generation).

Full to late bloom: Lilac (ash) borer newly hatched larvae; oystershell scale (brown) crawlers.

Finishing bloom: Bronze birch borer newly hatched larvae.

Most blossoms brown, still a few white: Flat-headed appletree borer larval hatch; peach tree borer newly hatched larvae; viburnum borer newly hatched larvae.

Bloom finished: Oystershell scale (gray) crawlers. (Phil Nixon)

Learn more about this spirea here:

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