How to Propagate Spirea Bushes Through Cuttings and Ground Layering

Spirea is among the easiest of shrubs to grow and care for.

One of the most popular of flowering woody shrubs, pretty flowers in shades of mauve, pink, rosy red, and white bloom in spring and summer, depending on the variety.

A spirea bush in full bloom with white flowers in a residential backyard.

The fine textured foliage varies from bright chartreuse to dark green and gives a fiery autumn display in tones of orange, purple, and red – for three full seasons of interest.

Plus, reproduction is simple as well, so you can quickly enjoy multiples all throughout your landscape!

Let’s have a look at the three easiest ways to propagate hard-working spirea shrubs.

Propagate with Softwood Cuttings

Close up of softwood from spirea used as cuttings for new plants inside of a flower pot.
Photo by Lorna Kring.

Take softwood cuttings in mid to late summer and root as follows:

  1. Cut stems 10 to 12 inches long, choosing ones that are flexible enough to bend, but break with a snap.
  2. Trim the top 4 to 6 inches from the stem tip and remove bottom leaves.
  3. Dip the cut end into powdered rooting hormone, then shake off excess powder.
  4. Fill a six-inch pot with a moist potting mixture, ensuring pots have adequate drainage.
  5. Plant four or five stems around the inner edge or each pot then cover with a plastic bag and seal the bag to retain moisture.
  6. Place in a dappled shade location and allow to root, checking weekly to ensure the soil stays moist.
  7. After approximately four weeks, rooting is indicated by healthy new foliage.
  8. Repot into individual containers for winter, tuck pots into a sheltered spot, and plant out in spring. (insert photo – softwood cuttings, ETA Aug 30/19)

Propagate with Hardwood Cuttings

Hardwood cuttings are taken in winter when plants are dormant using mature stems.

Hardwood spirea cuttings stuck directly in the earth to create new plants.
Photo by Lorna Kring.

The ideal time for hardwood cuttings is just after leaf drop in autumn or just before bud burst in late winter, providing severe frosts are avoided.

  1. Cut mature stems 10 to 12 inches long, taking several cuttings.
  2. Trim the stem top just above a leaf node, cutting on an angle to remember which end is up.
  3. Trim the bottom straight across, just below a leaf node.
  4. Dig holes in the ground about 4 to 6 inches deep.
  5. Place cuttings in the hole, angled end up, then fill in the hole with soil and firm in place.
  6. Water well and keep soil moist.
  7. After cuttings show healthy new growth in spring they can be planted into pots or a permanent location.

Propagate via Ground Layering

Another method of propagation is ground layering.

A small branch of a spirea bush is bent and layed along the earth to form roots via the ground layering technique.
Phoot by Lorna Kring.

Simple and effective, the stem remains attached to the mother plant while new roots develop. But be sure to choose stems long and flexible enough to bend and lay on the ground.

The best time for layering is mid-spring when plants are bursting with energy and growth.

  1. Choose a shoot on the outside edge of the plant.
  2. Remove the leaves from the section to be covered, and gently scrape away the outer bark in a few spots. Keep the rooting section small, 3 to 4 inches, to concentrate new roots in a controlled manner.
  3. Create a small trench in the soil directly below the shoot, about 1 inch deep and 3 inches long.
  4. Gently bend the shoot over, laying the stem in the trench.
  5. Using landscape or tent pins (or a bent section of a cut clothes hanger), firmly pin the scraped section to the ground, ensuring good contact is made.
  6. Cover the pinned section with soil and firm in place.
  7. Water gently and keep the soil moist.
  8. After new roots have formed, usually in 6 to 8 weeks, sever the stem from the mother plant and transplant to its new home.

Be Fruitful and Multiply!

Now that you know how easy it is to multiply spirea, will you be adding new plants to your garden?

Propagate them at any time except deep winter and you’ll be rewarded with their outstanding beauty and easy growth in short time.

If you have any questions about multiplying this rewarding shrub, drop us a line in the comments below.

And for more tips and tricks, be sure to read our other spirea guides to include:

Photos by Lorna Kring © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photo: Shutterstock.

About Lorna Kring

A writer, artist, and entrepreneur, Lorna is also a long-time gardener who got hooked on organic and natural gardening methods at an early age. These days, her vegetable garden is smaller to make room for decorative landscapes filled with color, fragrance, art, and hidden treasures. Cultivating and designing the ideal garden spot is one of her favorite activities – especially for gathering with family and friends for good times and good food (straight from the garden, of course)!

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