TREES & plants

Spiraea x cinerea

Spirea in full flower; cultivar 'Grefsheim'.

Spirea x cinerea is a  hybrid group of spirea with outstanding early season blooms for the shrub border, informal hedge, or as a backdrop for early spring perennials and bulbs. The white fragrant blooms emerging before the foliage on graceful, arching stems. Light green foliage remains dense to the base of the plant.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name: 
Spiraea x cinerea
All Common Names: 
First Snow spirea, Grefsheim spirea
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen, 
  • Massing, 
  • Hedge, 
  • Foundation, 
  • Mixed border, 
  • Screen, 
  • Patio/sidewalk
Size Range: 
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest: 
  • Early spring
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Arching, 
  • Upright, 
  • Weeping
Growth Rate: 
  • Fast
More Information: 

Size & Form

5 to 6 feet high and wide, graceful, dense shrub with arching stems.
A hybrid of Norwegian origin.

Tree & Plant Care

Watering regularly  during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system.
Feed with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring.
Prune in spring after flowering. For a formal appearance, shear annually after flowering.
Tolerant of aerial salt spray.

Disease, pests, and problems

None serious

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife

Butterflies love the flowers.
It is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone.

Bark color and texture 

The smooth brown bark is not particularly outstanding.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate, small 1 inch long, narrow  sea-green elliptical leaves turn a coppery-bronze in the fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small clusters of white flowers appear up and down the arching stems before the leaves

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Cultivars and their differences

First Snow ® Spirea (Spiraea x cinerea 'Grefsheim'): 4 to 5 feet high and wide; tiny white flowers on arching stems; narrow, blue-green leaves turn a reddish-brown in fall.

Spiraea x cinerea or Spiraea x cinerea

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.