gardening question - spirea

<p>We live in zone 5a, and I have some bumald spireas that need to be cut back. I am leaving on Monday for 11 days. I'm wondering if I cut them back now, is it be too soon for this spring pruning. I'm afraid if I wait until I get back, the shrubs will be too close to budding, and pruning then will be unhealthy for the plants. I've tried to do some internet research, but cannot find anything specific as to what will happen if I do it now, in my zone.</p>

<p>Nurseries around here aren't open yet, so I can't call someone. </p>

<p>Any suggestions?</p>

<p>teriwtt -- sorry, I can't help w/ your question, but I had to respond if only to say the very word "spirea" gives me the chills. Growing up my father had several beds of spirea bushes planted between our yard and that of our neighbors. My brothers and I had to weed those beds every spring, and at least once more during the summer. We all really, really disliked those bushes! LOL</p>

<p>Funny, the word "spirea" brings lots of terrific memories of those glorious white bushes in full bloom for a short spell all along the back of our yard when I was a kid. I still feel nostalgic when I see them. No wisdom whatsoever about what to do with them, however, sorry.</p>

<p>Spirea is pretty hardy; I used to hack the heck out of mine when I lived near Chicago, and they always came back beautifully...loved the purple flowers.</p>

<p>Cass turnbull who is a pruning goddess has some suggestions for spireas
[url=<a href=""&gt;]PlantAmnesty&lt;/a> Pruning Topics: Abelias & Spireas<a href="I%20am%20a%20pruning%20newbie-%20as%20you%20can%20tell%20by%20the%20things%20I%20hacked%20on%20last%20year-%20but%20time%20heals%20most%20wounds%20;">/url</a> )</p>

<p>Spring-blooming spireas - Prune shortly after all the plants’ flowers fade.</p>

<p>Summer-blooming spireas - Prune them in late winter or early spring before the leaves emerge.</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>I say prune them now, as they bloom later (if I recall the type correctly--am I mistaken?) unless you see buds. </p>

<p>EK4, what a great site! I want to have her over for dinner. You can come, too, in your crepe de chine skorts.</p>

<p>We prune our spirea AFTER they flower.</p>

<p>As confirmed by one of the above sites, prune after flowering. Mine always need substantial hacking back after flowering, to shape, remove the dead flower heads and keep within managable size.</p>

<p>You and I are both in the Chicago area, if I remember correctly. I hope this weather downturn has convinced you that it's too soon to prune - highs only in the 20s this week!</p>

<p>Bumald spirea should be lightly pruned in the spring. One technique I've used is to stagger the pruning, alternating cuts. You will still have a decent bloom, and you won't kill the plant. It is time-consuming, though, and may look like a bad haircut, but you can easily rectify the shape in warmer weather. The Chicago Botanic Garden has a gardeners help line available Mondays through Fridays if you have more concerns.</p>

<p>oh midwesterner - am glad there's someone else on this board to commiserate with me. I feel so incredibly defeated by this winter!</p>

<p>I should have clarified a bit more (although all the advice is appreciated). The four spirea I have are planted between our driveway and front stoop/sidewalk to the front door, with perhaps 2 1/2-3' of ground between those concrete slabs. First of all, I realized those shouldn't have been planted there - it's a small area for a shrub that likes to grow so quickly (unlike our boxwood). So every year (usually sometime in the early to mid summer) I struggle with cutting it back, but with the amount I have to cut it back so it doesn't completely overtake the sidewalk and edge of driveway, it ends up looking very woody, and I lose a lot of the foliage on the periphery. I have to shape it into an almost rectangular shape to keep the sidewalk clear. I was thinking if I cut it back more harshly now, before new growth begins to emerge (which I'm afraid will happen by the time we return home in two weeks), then I could get a better handle on controling the size this year so that when I shape it in the summer, I won't have to take off so much.</p>

<p>They're incredibly beautiful shrubs, and I love how they change colors for the seasons, and the little pink flowers. A few years, we've had either geese or ducks lay eggs at the base of a shrub; unfortunately some critter inevitably gets to those eggs before they can hatch.</p>

<p>Calling the Chicago Botanic Garden is an excellent idea. It hadn't even occured to me. We have master gardeners at the UICU satellite office in our county, but their hours are very limited. I knew I could get my answer quicker by posting on CC!</p>

<p>midwesterner - since you know what kind of winter we've had, I'm sure you will appreciate my concern of losing some landscaping from all the heavy snow we've had this year. More and more, I'm seeing damaged arborvitae as I drive around the area. Some of ours aren't looking too great... sort of sagging in some areas, or leaning over. I don't think there are any breaks/cracks in major branches, but I haven't thoroughly inspected them all yet. I do see some in my neighborhood that have obvious broken branches about 1/3 from the top where the shrub just couldn't take the weight of the snow and it cracked. </p>

<p>Nevermind the 6" iceberg we had at the end of our driveway where the snow plows would pile it up after we'd shoveled :( At least it finally melted (for the most part) on Sunday. The mail delivery truck still has a huge frozen snow drift it has to navigate up to get close enough to our mailbox to put mail in.</p>

<p>Another midwesterner hoping that winter ends. Those spirea are hardy plants. We had the landscaper plow thru them with a lawnmower , not on purpose, and they come back. Chicago Botanic is great with help. Lot's of PhD's at CBG. I have two different versions of spirea, one white flower and one pink flower. Ones with dark leaves ones with light leaves, and neither of them on the same pruning schedule! Good Luck.</p>