Douglas’ spiraea, or hardhack, is a large, effort-less shrub that grows quickly into thick areas that are excellent cover for wildlife. Abundant and persistent spires of dusty pink flowers cover the tops of this shrub all summer long, creating a sea of blooms that attract bees and butterflies. By fall, the foliage relaxes into an attractive array of oranges and yellows and the flower clusters turn into seeds that are feasted on by migratory birds.
- Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous, perennial, large shrub
- Size at maturity: 2-6' tall, 3-7' wide
- Light requirements: full sun to part shade
- Moisture requirements: moist to wet soil
- Bloom time: June - September (July - August in the Portland Metro area)
- Growth rate/ease: fast growing, easy to grow
- Wildlife support: flowers attract and support adult butterflies, bees and other insect pollinators; seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals; leaves and stems are occasionally browsed by deer, though not their favorite; the overall plant attracts and supports beneficial and other pest eating insects, is a caterpillar host plant and larval food source and provides excellent habitat for birds and other wildlife, especially to water birds such as Marsh Wrens, as well as the raptors that hunt them
- Native habitat/range: common along streambanks and lake edges, in open areas of wet meadows and wetlands from southeast Alaska to northern California and eastward into Idaho and western Montana. Also found in isolated counties of Colorado, Missouri, and Tennessee. Portland Plant List - yes.
- Special features & uses: straight stems can be used for making tools; flowers are excellent in arrangements both fresh and dried; landscape uses include pollinator gardens, raingardens, hedgerows and for erosion control; drought-tolerant
Gardening with Douglas Spiraea: In the wild, you'll find thickets of Douglas spiraea primarily in sunny open areas that are moist to seasonally wet. This growth habit makes it an ideal option for large properties where erosion control and coverage are your priorities. In smaller gardens, it can be gorgeous in drier spots, where tougher conditions help keep it in check - such as hedgerows and along foundations.
Photo Credits 1 - 3: Tara Lemezis, Tiny Seed Photography
Photo Credit 4: Karli Del Biondo, Beetles and Bees