Even before its foliage appears, bridal veil spirea, much more commonly known as bridal wreath spirea (Spiraea prunifolia) graces the early spring landscape with a profusion of white blossoms. This species can grow to 9 feet tall, with arching branches that may bend to the ground, contrasting with another group of spireas that are low-growing and shrubby and bear pink or red flowers in the summer. Bridal wreath flourishes in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8. Maintain the plant's flowing shape by cutting it back immediately after blooming stops.
The spring-blooming bridal wreath spirea produces buds on old wood. Therefore, avoid pruning at the end of winter, or you might destroy potential flowering branches. You can, however, remove winter-killed twigs. "Plena," the most commercially-available bridal wreath variety, requires some winter chill to flower generously, and as with the species grows best in USDA zones 5 through 8. Propagate cuttings from your spirea in early spring by snipping 4 to 8 inches off a fast-growing stem tip and rooting it in a sandy potting mix.
Never try to prune a bridal wreath spirea into a compact bush, or you will sacrifice its unique charm. Trimming back so that it does not get too unwieldy, however, makes the plant more attractive. After flowering, prune any awkward shoots that distract from the overall configuration. With time, bridal wreath tends to become sparse and leggy. To rejuvenate a spirea, you can cut it almost to the ground, and it will grow back in a healthier state. Remember to clean your pruning shears with household disinfectant at full strength to avoid spreading bacteria, viruses or fungi.
The double, white flowers of the "Plena" bridal wreath spirea each measure about 1/3 inch across and emerge in clusters of three to six blossoms. Spireas belong to the rose family, and their blooms resemble tiny roses. A favorite of butterflies, the snowy flowers lining the bare branches can be breathtaking, especially when the sun shines on them. The dark-green foliage that comes in following flowering will later furnish autumn color in reds, oranges or yellows.
Besides the yearly pruning, bridal wreath spirea does not require extensive maintenance to thrive. The plant does well in almost any soil, but it prefers the soil be a bit moist. For optimal blooming, grow spirea in full sun, although it tolerates partial shade. Usually the plant escapes serious damage from disease or insect pests, but watch for some of the same problems that afflict roses, such as fire blight, leaf spot, powdery mildew, aphids, root rot, leaf roller and scale. Use bridal wreath spirea as a foundation planting, in an informal mixed hedge or as a specimen shrub.
Source: Clemson Cooperative Extension