Sobaria Shrub Care: Learn How To Grow False Spirea

By: Teo Spengler

Sorbaria false spirea is a sprawling, deciduous shrub (Sorbaria sorbifolia) that bears frothy, white flowers in panicles at the end of its shoots. It will cover your slopes or fields with deep green foliage in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 8. Read on for information about how to grow false spirea and Sorbaria shrub care.

Sorbaria False Spirea

If you plant Sorbaria false spirea, don’t expect a prim and proper shrub that knows its place. The charm of false spirea is entirely different. Those who choose to grow Sorbaria shrubs must be ready for the plants’ unruly nature.

These shrubs offer masses of overarching branches, with dark green, pinnate leaves. They also supply billowy sprays of summer flowers.

Native to Eastern Siberia, China, Korea, and Japan, false spirea shrubs grow to 10 feet (3 m.) high and wide and keep spreading. Sorbaria false spirea grows suckers that turn into new plants. Because of this, your false spirea is likely to spread out and take over unassigned space if you let it.

Is Sorbaria sorbifolia invasive? Yes, it is. These woody plants have escaped cultivation and moved out into undeveloped areas in the Northeast and Alaska.

How to Grow False Spirea

One reason gardeners grow Sorbaria shrubs is because it is so easy to do so. The plants are not picky about almost anything. If you want to know how to grow false spirea, you can either plant seeds or take cuttings. The plants require little special care and will grow in almost any type of soil as long as it drains well.

Sobaria false spirea plants grow very fast in full sun. However, they also thrive in sites with some shade. And you aren’t likely to see these tough bushes threatened by insect pests or disease problems.

Perhaps the most important part of Sorbaria shrub care is keeping some control over your garden once you invite false spirea in. The plants will spread fast by suckers, and even faster in loose soil, so make time to pull up suckers as they appear.

You should prune this shrub every winter as part of Sorbaria shrub care. In fact, consider cutting it back to ground level every year in order to stop it from getting too dominant.

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False spirea the Vigorous Shrub

False spirea is a deciduous shrub with leaves that resemble a feather. It has clusters of billowy white blossoms which move like ballet dancers in the wind. It is a tough shrub with a delicate appearance. It is not a shrub for small gardens. Nor is it for those who want compact shrubs which mind their manners. This shrub requires its own quarter. It grows rapidly and will gladly spread to fill a space of 5 to 8 feet. If you need a shrub that will quickly naturalize areas prone to erosion this is the shrub for you.

Sorbaria sorbifolia is commonly called false spirea
Also known as Ural false spirea and ash leaf spirea

This is my false spirea the day I planted it less than two years ago.

This is my false spirea today. It has grown to over 6 feet tall and spread to cover nearly a 5-foot area of fencing in less than two years. I planted mine behind a lattice panel fence which I built to act as a partial windbreak and garden wall. The false spirea is part of a grouping of shrubs I have arranged behind the fence to help break the wind and capture dust from the main road into our farm. The wonderful feature about the false spirea is that it has grown to such a large size that it has created a feathery garden wall for added privacy in our yard. It also makes a gorgeous background shrub for my other plants. On the days when the wind blows gently I enjoy watching the false spirea dance gracefully on the breeze.

When researching this plant you will discover it is best grown in organically rich, well-drained soil. My midwestern soil is clay based, and therefore heavy. I have had no trouble growing false spirea in my heavy soil. It will spread by root suckers, (stoloniferous roots), so be sure to remove the new plants it you do not want an entire colony, or goodness, an entire village of them in your yard! This plant can be invasive. It is less invasive however in clay soil since the clay seems to inhibit its growth. You might want to consider giving your false spirea a good haircut by mowing it to the ground occasionally. This should help to keep it under control.

Distinctive features:

It bears a resemblance to the mountain ash. (It is related to mountain ash, Sorbus)

It has long, arching branches with deep green pinnate (resembles a feather) leaves that give you a sense of being among the lush jungles of the tropics whenever you stand near it. In the fall the leaf color changes to pure yellow gold.

The blooms are made up of downy white clusters at least 10 inches long. It blooms in June and July.

The texture of the plant is somewhat coarse even though it has a fluttering, feathery appearance.

The dehiscent (dehiscent simply means gaping) seeds appear after the blooms. They age to an unremarkable brown.

General information:

False spirea is disease resistant and has no known pest problems.
For those of you searching for a plant that is tolerant of the sea air, this is a salt-tolerant shrub.
Prune false spirea in early spring since the flowers develop on new wood.

This shrub can be invasive and will quickly become a problem in small gardens or areas where you do not want large colonies of shrubs. If grown in heavy clay soil this tends to somewhat hinder false spirea's propensity to sucker root.

Best uses for the plant:

False spirea is best suited for naturalizing areas such as erosion prone banks, slopes. Use it to create windbreaks or shrub borders where you desire an untamed look. It would work for the background shrub in a large cottage garden as well.

Interesting fact: its native range is eastern Siberia, Korea, Japan, Manchuria and even in northern China.

Hardiness Zone: 2 to 9
Growth rate: Fast. It reaches 5 to 10 feet tall, and just as wide.
Bloom time: June to July
Moisture requirements: Medium
Maintenance: Low (If planted where you allow it to grow and spread as it wills.)

I hope you enjoy your false spirea as much as I enjoy mine.

Plants→Sorbaria→False Spiraea (Sorbaria sorbifolia)

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Shrub
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 2 -45.6 °C (-50 °F) to -42.8 °C (-45°F)
Plant Height : 5-8 feet
Plant Spread : 5-8 feet
Leaves: Deciduous
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: White
Flower Time: Summer
Uses: Erosion control
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Stem
Pollinators: Various insects

Many gardeners love a perennial called Astilbe, but few gardeners in our area have had any prolonged success with them. Think of Ural False Spirea as a durable, and very large white Astilbe…..and you might be more tempted to grow them in your garden. Here are several more reasons: [1] It is one of the very first shrubs to leaf out in spring [2] The new leaves have a terrific copper, bronze, purple coloration [3] the leaves have a distinct, delicate, and rich "pleated" appearance throughout the growing season & [4] The bloom panicles are quite large, pure white, and very showy. Plant it in full sun to light shade, in good soil, and make sure you provide supplemental water during summer's high heat.

False Spiraea is a deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub native to Northern Asia and Japan that can attain a height and spread of up to 8'. The leaves are dark green with serrated edges and the showy white blooms are borne on terminal panicles during June and July. This shrub can spread aggressively by root suckers.

The False Spirea is a very lovely shrub with its lacy leaves, attractive buds, and blooms that attract many types of bees and bugs. Despite its beauty, I dug it up in 2010 and tried to get rid of it because I found it to be too invasive. I pulled every root that I could find. Spring 2011 found this plant sending up suckers many feet away from the original growing site. I fear that in spring 2012 it will still be sending up suckers. I do not recommend this shrub.

Controlling ‘Sem’ Spirea Size and Spread

False Spireas are often unfavorable plants due to their invasive nature and aggressive growth. False Spirea is a multi-stemmed shrub with a large number of root runners and suckers appearing frequently with the tendency to invade your garden and backyard.
But, the ‘Sem’ cultivar is a new form of False Spirea, pretty exciting for gardeners since it differs slightly than other False Spireas. This cultivar has kept its best features such as rich foliage and showy flowers, but also gained less invasive and aggressive nature than most of the False Spireas species.

To prevent unwanted spreading, remove root runners promptly. This way you’ll avoid colonizing of these little new grown plants. You can also cut the plant to the ground occasionally to rejuvenate the plant and control its fast growth and invasive spread.

If you want the best out of this plant, find a ‘solitary’ place for it, away from other smaller plants. This way the shrub won’t disrupt or harm them with its fast and aggressive growth.

Tip for Growing Astilbe

Astilbe is easy to grow, and is very tough and hardy. One of the beauties of them is that they do equally well in part sun or partial shade and will flower in either location. They prefer shade to look best.

The prettiest thing about astilbe is their canopy of tall flower stalks about a glossy green leaf structure. And one can easily see where it got the common names like “false goats beard” or “goats beard plant.”

Caring for astilbe is easy if you follow these tips:

Astilbe growing conditions are mainly focused on making sure that the plant gets enough water and not too much sunlight. Here are some general growing tips.

Sunlight Needs for Astilbe

Planting astilbe is best done in a bed that is either in half sun/half shade or in full shade with just filtered light. I have mine growing in garden beds that are facing north and they get a bit of late afternoon sun. This seems to suit them beautifully.

If you live in a cool northern climate, astilbe can take full sunlight, but for the rest of the US, it does prefer some shade.

Astilbe Flowers

The most commonly grown astilbe have flowers that are in the red/pink variety with colors ranging from dusty pink through to vibrant pinks and reds.

Some varieties of astilbe are also pale tan or even white. Check out this post for some great images of astilbe colors.

Some astilbe flowers are fine and feathery and others have the goats beard flower shape and texture that is much firmer and more plump.

Astilbe is considered non-toxic to pets.

How do you grow Sorbaria?

Planting and Growing False Spirea Plants They do, however need protection from hot afternoon sun. False Spirea should be planted 15-24 inches apart in good humus soil that is rich in organic matter, and must be kept reasonably moist at all times. Plants can be set in the garden either in the Spring or in the Fall.

One may also ask, how do you prune ash leaf spirea? Pruning and trimming: 'Sem' Spirea should be pruned annually in spring, right after the shrub has bloomed. Feel free to reduce it by 12 inches. Avoid late summer pruning. To improve the shape, prune tops of the plant in desired way.

In this manner, can false spirea be pruned?

False SpireaPruning, Winter Care and Fertilizing. Prune these spring flowering shrubs soon after they have bloomed. Top prune the plant to improve the shape and reduce its size, but be careful not to remove more than 30% of the top growth. As the plant matures, some “renewal pruningshould be done.

When should Sorbaria be pruned?

The plants will spread fast by suckers, and even faster in loose soil, so make time to pull up suckers as they appear. You should prune this shrub every winter as part of Sorbaria shrub care. In fact, consider cutting it back to ground level every year in order to stop it from getting too dominant.

The Plant Guide

If you like plants that stay in tidy, little assigned corners, this is not the plant for you. But if you have a large space to fill and love plants with attitude, this is your baby. False spireas form large masses of arching branches that are covered with green pinnate leaves. Billowy white sprays of flowers appear in mid- to late summer. Mature plants spread where you let them. There is a wide range of closely related species and selections, but there’s not much difference between them.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsCan be invasive in some areas.

CareThese plants are unbelievably durable and will take just about any soil thrown in their general direction. An annual or occasional decapitation to the ground is a good idea because it helps keep the plant under control.

PropagationBy cuttings or seed.

ProblemsNo serious problems.

  • Genus : Sorbaria
  • Zones : 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Plant Height : 6 to 10 feet
  • Plant Width : 6 to 10 feet
  • Growth Rate : Fast
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Bloom Time : Late Summer, Summer
  • Moisture : Medium Moisture
  • Maintenance : Moderate
  • Plant Type : Shrubs
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Summer Interest
  • Flower Color : White

Watch the video: Astilbe Planting Natives New Plantings

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