January 2002
Plant of the Month

(Spiraea x cinerea ‘Grefsheim’)
shrub
zone: 4
by Rick Reimer




Sometimes in our quest for something different in plant material, we get caught up in trying to get the newest plant. However, there are some plants that have been around for years, are great plants, and are very seldom used. Spiraea x cinerea ‘Grefsheim’ is of hybrid origin and was developed in Norway in the 1880’s.

Few shrubs in flower are as attractive as Spiraea ‘Grefsheim’. In early May, before the plant has leaves, the branches are covered with small white flowers. Flowering is so heavy, the plant looks like a solid mass of white.

Spiraea ‘Grefsheim’ is a very full and densely branched shrub that will reach 4-5 feet tall and wide. The leaves, which are light green with a slight gray cast, are 1 ½ - 2 inches long and about 3/8 inch wide. The overall effect is that of a slightly weeping or cascading shrub with very fine texture. Spiraea ‘Grefsheim’ is hardy to at least zone 4. The plant grows best in full sun and normal soil. It grows well in clay as long as it has adequate drainage. I have seen no insect pests bother the plant. The aphids that plague so many other spiraeas, don’t seem to be attracted to ‘Grefsheim’.

With excellent flowers, attractive form, and nice foliage, Spirea ‘Grefsheim’ has a lot going for it. In fact, in 1993, it was given the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Perhaps its only drawback is its unexciting name. That problem may have been solved with one large wholesale nursery giving this plant the trademarked name ‘First Snow’. Perhaps, with a more attractive name, Spirea ‘Grefsheim’ will become as popular as some of the other spireas.

Rick Reimer
Dundee Nursery





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