Plant Encyclopedia

Mr. Mustard® False Spiraea

Sorbaria sorbifolia

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Mr. Mustard® False Spiraea

Discover More Information On Mr. Mustard® False Spiraea

The Mr. Mustard® False Spiraea, known scientifically as Sorbaria sorbifolia, is a charismatic and vibrant addition to any garden. This hardy shrub thrives in zones 2 to 7, making it a versatile choice for a variety of climates. The plant's optimal growing conditions include exposure to part sun to full sun, adapting well to different light environments.

One of the most striking features of the Mr. Mustard® False Spiraea is its fabulous foliage that undergoes a dramatic transformation throughout the seasons. In spring, the leaves burst into a kaleidoscope of colors, including yellow, orange, red, pink, and lime green, creating a spectacular display. As summer arrives, the foliage transitions to a rich Kelly green, providing a lush backdrop for the creamy white, astilbe-like flowers. These blooms not only add aesthetic appeal but also attract a host of beneficial wildlife, including bees and butterflies, while being resistant to deer.

Plant Attributes

The Mr. Mustard® False Spiraea, is a deciduous shrub that offers a multitude of striking attributes, making it a distinguished choice for garden enthusiasts. This plant, with its short stature, typically grows to a height of 24 to 36 inches and has a spreading habit, extending 36 to 48 inches in width. Such a dimension makes it ideal for use as an eye-catching groundcover or as a filler in garden beds.

The foliage of Mr. Mustard® is particularly noteworthy. In spring, it displays a vibrant blend of yellow, red, and orange, creating a vivid tapestry of colors. As the season transitions into summer, the foliage evolves into a bright green shade, maintaining the plant's visual interest throughout the growing season. The white flowers that bloom in summer further enhance its appeal. These blooms are not just visually pleasing but also serve a functional role by attracting bees and butterflies, contributing to the biodiversity of the garden ecosystem.

Adaptable to various light conditions, Mr. Mustard® thrives in both part sun and full sun, needing anywhere from 4 to 6+ hours of sunlight a day. This attribute makes it a flexible choice for different garden settings. While it requires moderate maintenance, this shrub is relatively easy to care for, making it suitable for gardeners with different levels of experience. Additionally, its hardiness in zones 2a to 7b signifies its robust nature, capable of withstanding a range of climatic conditions.

Landscape Use

  1. Groundcover: Its spreading habit makes it an excellent choice for groundcover. It grows wider than it is tall, which allows it to cover large areas, providing a lush, green carpet that transitions into a burst of colors in the spring.
  2. Mixed Beds and Borders: The plant’s colorful foliage and white blooms make it a great addition to mixed beds and borders. It adds texture and color contrast when planted alongside other perennials and shrubs.
  3. Naturalized Gardens: Its natural spreading habit and ability to adapt to various conditions make it ideal for naturalized garden settings. It can fill in spaces organically, creating a relaxed and informal look.
  4. Wildlife Gardens: The flowers of Mr. Mustard® False Spiraea are attractive to bees and butterflies, making it a beneficial plant for wildlife gardens. Planting it helps support local ecosystems by providing food for pollinators.
  5. Informal and Cottage Gardens: With its casual growth pattern and vibrant colors, it fits well in informal or cottage-style gardens. The plant adds a sense of whimsy and a splash of color.
  6. Erosion Control: Its root system and spreading nature can help stabilize soil in areas prone to erosion, making it a functional as well as an aesthetic choice for sloped gardens or banks.
  7. Container Gardening: While it typically spreads out in landscape settings, it can also be grown in larger containers where its colorful foliage can be a focal point on patios, balconies, or terraces.
  8. Mass Planting: For a dramatic effect, Mr. Mustard® can be planted in mass, creating a sea of color that changes throughout the seasons. This is particularly effective in larger garden spaces.

Planting & Care

Caring for the Mr. Mustard® False Spiraea (Sorbaria sorbifolia) involves understanding its planting requirements and ongoing maintenance needs. Here's a guide to help you ensure that your plant thrives:

Planting Instructions:

  1. Timing: Plant in early spring or fall to allow roots to establish before extreme weather conditions.
  2. Location: Choose a site with part sun to full sun exposure (4-6+ hours of sunlight).
  3. Soil: Prefers well-drained soil; tolerates clay and alkaline soils. Amend soil with organic matter if needed.
  4. Planting Depth and Spacing: Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Space plants 36-48 inches apart to accommodate their spread.
  5. Watering After Planting: Water thoroughly after planting and regularly until established.

Care and Maintenance:

  1. Watering: Needs average water. Regular watering is important, especially in extreme heat or when in containers. Ensure soil remains moist but not waterlogged.
  2. Mulching: Apply mulch around the base to retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.
  3. Pruning: Prune annually to control spread and maintain shape. Pruning is best done in early spring.
  4. Fertilizing: Feed with a general-purpose fertilizer in early spring before new growth begins.
  5. Pest and Disease Management: Generally, this plant is not prone to serious pests or diseases. Monitor regularly and treat any issues promptly.
  6. Winter Care: In colder zones, it may die back in winter but will re-emerge in spring. Additional winter mulch can help protect the root system in very cold areas.


  • Suckers: The plant can be propagated through suckers. Remove suckers in spring or early summer and replant.

Special Notes:

  • Tolerant of Tough Conditions: It can withstand tough environmental conditions like clay and alkaline soils.
  • Attracts Wildlife: Its flowers attract bees and butterflies, making it an asset to wildlife gardens.
  • Deer Resistant: It is less appealing to deer, which can be an advantage in areas where deer browsing is a problem.

Additional Information

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Mr. Mustard® False Spiraea


Plant Features

  • Plant Type: Shrub
  • Watering Needs: Average; requires regular watering, especially in extreme heat or when planted in containers.
  • Botanical Pronunciation: sor-BAR-ee-uh sor-bee-FOH-lee-uh
  • Deciduous/evergreen: Deciduous
  • Growth rate: Moderate
  • Average landscape size: Grows to a height of 24-36 inches and spreads 36-48 inches.
  • Special features: Attracts bees and butterflies, resistant to deer, ideal for groundcover, landscape, and mass planting.
  • Dramatic Foliage: Foliage color changes seasonally from a blend of yellow, red, and orange in spring to bright green in summer.
  • Foliage color: Green, Yellow, with spring colors of yellow, red, and orange.
  • Blooms: Summer
  • Flower color: White
  • Flower attributes: Astilbe-like blooms that attract pollinators.
  • Garden style: Suited for informal, naturalized gardens, and mixed beds.
  • Design Ideas: Ideal for creating a vibrant display in mixed beds or as a groundcover in informal garden styles. Its colorful foliage makes it a standout in any garden, and it can be planted in groups for a striking effect. Its naturalized look is perfect for organic garden settings.
  • Companion Plants: Pair with plants that complement its vibrant foliage and natural growth habit, such as ornamental grasses, perennials, and other flowering shrubs that thrive in similar conditions.


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