If you want some fall fireworks in your garden but aren’t lucky enough to have a mature sugar maple in the yard, make Magic Carpet spirea your centerpiece. In the spring and summer, pink flowers and chartreuse leaves with red highlights make this bush a beauty, and with some judicious deadheading and the right climate, the flowers will rebloom until November. In fall the foliage turns a deep russet hue. Cluster a few of these together, add some late-blooming asters, and you’ll have a rainbow tableau that’s the envy of the neighborhood—and you won’t have to spend three weekends raking maple leaves.
Common name: Magic Carpet spirea
Botanical name: Spiraea japonica ‘Walbuma’ Magic Carpet
Plant type: Deciduous shrub
Zones: 4 to 9
Height: 1½ to 3 feet tall
• Sun: Tolerates light shade but prefers full sun.
• Soil: Average
• Moisture: Prefers average to moist soil. Relatively drought-tolerant when established.
• Mulch: Mulch to help keep soil moist.
• Pruning: Deadhead in midsummer to encourage continued bloom.
• Fertilizer: None needed.
• By cuttings
Pests and diseases
• Aphids, scale insects, and weevils can be problems.
• Vulnerable to powdery mildew, dieback, and fireblight.
• Combine Magic Carpet spirea with other shrubs in a foundation planting or use a row of them as a low, informal hedge.
• To create a colorful autumn bed, pair Magic Carpet spirea with late-blooming flowers like mums and asters.
• Since Magic Carpet spirea is susceptible to powdery mildew, plant it in a spot with good air circulation.
All in the family
• There are about 80 species, all shrubs, in the genus Spiraea. They’re native to North America, Europe, and Asia.
• The popular garden shrub false spirea (Sorbaria spp.), is a relative of spirea found mainly in Asia. False spirea is also in the Rosaceae family.
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo of Spiraea japonica ‘Walbuma’ courtesy of Tracy Walsh.)