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Native Steeplebush Adds Beauty and Attracts Butterflies

It’s not your common spirea found in many commercial and home landscapes; but rather it’s less utilized relative and North American native shrub known as steeplebush or hardhack (Spiraea tomentosa).

This adaptable shrub is hardy in zones 3 to 8.  It prefers full sun, acidic sandy soils with wet to moist conditions, but it will tolerate light shade and a wide range of soils.

Steeplebush grows 2 to 4 feet tall and much wider as its suckering nature allows it to form colonies. This makes it a great choice for pond side plantings, hedges, natural areas, rain gardens and bank stabilization.

The spires of pink flowers appear from mid-summer into fall. Light deadheading will encourage more bloom. The attractive flowers help attract beneficial insects like bees and butterflies. It’s a nectar source for the rare Karner Blue butterfly and the leaves are a favorite food for several caterpillars and moths.

A bit more information: Another native spirea, Meadowseet (Spiraea alba), produces spires of white flowers and is hardy in zones 3 to 7. It makes a great cut flower and is a butterfly favorite.

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