245 Spiraea cantoniensisCommon Names: Reeves' spirea, double bridal wreath, double Reeves Family: Rosaceae (rose Family)
Reeves' spirea is a deciduous or semi-evergreen little shrub with very showy clusters of white flowers in midspring. This spirea (or bridal wreath) gets 3-6 ft (1.2-1.8 m) tall and the wiry, reddish brown, gracefully arching stems can cover an area 6-8 ft (1.8-2.4 m) across. The leaves are about 2 in (5.1 cm) long, dark green on top, pale blue green beneath, and diamond shaped with toothed margins. The small roselike flowers (0.5 in in diameter) have five (or many) white petals and are borne in round clusters about 2 in (5.1 cm) across and are profusely distributed all over the bush. The cultivar, 'Lanceata', with double flowers (many petals), is more commonly seen than the species, which is rarely cultivated in the US.
Reeves' spirea, Spiraea cantoniensis, is native to China, and possibly also Japan, where it has been cultivated as an ornamental for centuries.
CultureReeves' spirea is very fast growing and thrives on neglect. Light: Reeves' spirea flowers best when grown in full sun, but puts on a respectable display even in partial shade. Moisture: Fairly drought tolerant. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 9. Propagation: Spireas are easily propagated from cuttings of green tip shoots in late spring and summer, or grown from seed.
Without pruning, and allowed to assume its natural growth habit, Reeves' spirea forms a beautiful mound of gracefully arching stems covered, in midspring, with masses of snow white flowers. If it is necessary to prune (and that's a pity!), do so right after flowering, before the next year's flower buds develop. Reeves' spirea is an excellent choice for a mixed shrub border. It is at its best as a specimen shrub alone, in a small group, or alongside flamboyant Asian azaleas, blooming at the same time. The dried flower clusters persist well in floral arrangements.
There are about 90 species of Spiraea, mostly in Europe, Asia and North America. Reeve's spirea is one of the most beautiful and popular among a large group of long-cultivated ornamentals. It has a relatively long flowering period, and in the Deep South is almost evergreen.
Steve Christman 1/12/00; updated 12/26/03, 4/14/05