This week I’m focusing on a pretty spectacular shrub, which also happens to be our 2022 Flowering Shrub of the Year! Double Play Doozie® Spiraea is a seedless, non-invasive cultivar that flowers all season long with no deadheading. You heard me right, NO deadheading!
Its lack of seed makes it a perpetual bloomer, putting all of its energy into creating wave after wave of red-pink flowers from early summer through frost.
It naturally grows as a neat, 2-3′ mound and is hardy in USDA zones 3-8.
The story of how it was bred is a pretty interesting one. And it’s one that Tim Wood recently told on his blog, The Plant Hunter.
He covers many of the spirea in our Double Play® series, and you can read the whole post here. But for this post, I’m copying the part he wrote about Double Play Doozie®, and how it was bred to be the amazing shrub that it is. Enjoy!
An excerpt from: Double Play® Spirea: More Than Just Pretty Flowers
by Tim Wood
While most of the plants in the Double Play® series were developed by Spring Meadow in our internal breeding program, two varieties were developed by North Carolina State University. A number of years ago, we had funded Dr. Thomas Ranney’s plant breeding team to develop sterile cultivars of potentially invasive plants.
One of the common methods for sterile varieties is to create a triploid (3x) plant which has three sets of chromosomes instead of the normal two, a diploid (2x). This was the technique used to create seedless watermelons. The process starts by treating young seedlings with colchicine or oryzalin, which doubles the chromosomes, thus creating a tetraploid (4x) plant. The tetraploid plant is then crossed back with a normal diploid plant. The resulting triploid seedlings are often seedless.
Double Play Doozie® (Spiraea japonica ‘NCSX2’) is a seedless triploid, as well as a wide cross containing genes of more than one species. One of the added benefits of seedless plants is that they put their energy into flowering instead of setting seed. With Double Play Doozie® Spiraea, this results in a spirea that flowers all summer long.
This plant is a game changer in the landscape market because it is so easy to grow and because it looks just as good in flower in August as it does in June when it first flowers. There is no need to shear it to get it to rebloom. The new growth continues to produce flower buds and flowers that cover and hide the older flower heads. The flowers are a vivid dark pink making it the perfect plant to replace ‘Anthony Waterer’, a variety that should have been discontinued years ago because it is a virus infected cultivar.
It is a bit humorous looking back because so many people told us we were wasting our time breeding spirea. They said, “Who needs another spirea?” But like all plant breeding, there is always room for new plants, if they are improvements. Growers continue to look for plants that finish faster and that have fewer production inputs. Retailers, with a limited number of salespeople, are looking for plants with greater impulse appeal, which will sell themselves. Consumers want shrubs that offer more than just two weeks of flowers. They are looking for reliable plants that earn their keep all season long and these spirea do just that