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Sorbaria - Growing Guide

Growing Sorbaria

 False Spiraea

Sorbaria are a genus of suckering deciduous shrubs which grow primarily on river banks in China and Japan. It is therefore logical that they are often found growing near streams or ponds in slightly boggy conditions in the UK. That is not however to say that they are bog plants necessarily requiring wet conditions. Sorbaria will grow perfectly well anywhere in a woodland garden context or as the backdrop to a large border. They are however happier in dappled shade than full sun. 

Sorbaria sorbifolia (Spiraea sorbifolia) is an upright thicket forming shrub with erect branches and pinnate leaves of around 10in in length. Each leaf has 13 to 25 lanceolate leaflets 2-3in long and up to 1in wide with conspicuous double teeth on both sides. The younger leaves are glabrous above and below.

The flowers appear in mid to late summer on upright stalks. The racemes of white flowers are 6-10in tall on downy stalks.

Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’ is a relatively new hybrid which has grown in popularity since it appeared in our catalogue. It is a dwarf growing, bushy form and its striking yellowish new growth has a hint of pink. An effective groundcover in a shrub border.

Sorbaria are totally hardy and can readily be reproduced by digging up in dormancy the many suckers that the plant produces once established. It may well be advisable in some situations to remove and destroy spreading suckers anyway if space is restricted. Cuttings are fairly easy when taken as softwood but they do take up rather a lot of room on the mist bench or propagation unit. A plant which suckers like this does not need much propagating!

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