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Regional Picks: Tough-as-Nails Shrubs – Midwest

Fine Gardening - Issue 166

1. ‘Sem’ False Spirea

Name: Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’

USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 8

Size: 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; tolerates a wide range of soils, moist to dry

‘Sem’ is a Dutch-born hybrid of two unnamed selections of false spirea, an otherwise sleeper shrub that seldom appears on most gardeners’ radars. This modern cultivar boasts salon-quality bronze and copper highlights as it unfurls its feathery fine leaves in early spring, growing into a stunning colony over time. As a hedge, it’s a shiner, but it’s just as effective weaving among perennials and other shrubs with combs of white flowers appearing in midsummer. Overall, false spirea is undownable, thriving in a variety of soils and weathering winters as cold as Zone 2.


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