Virginia Sweetspire – Itea virginica
This is another locally native shrub and fantastic for multi-season interest. White flower clusters abound in late spring, and fresh green leaves cover the arching branches until fall, when they become a beacon of burgundy, red, orange and yellow.
Winter stems tend to stay deep red on young branches, and the dense root system is great for erosion control. Since the flowers have a light sweet scent, they are a great draw for pollinators – bees and butterflies alike.
Full sun will give you the richest fall colors, but in the wild these plants can also be found with other understory plants in the brighter spots in the woods.
Moist soils are a plus, and Sweetspire can even be happy in wet conditions. Mature height ranges by variety – from about 2-4’ for Little Henry™ to 3-5’ for ‘Henry’s Garnet’ – and each can spread to about 6’ wide. Any pruning needed should be done after flowering.
By Miri Talabac, Woody Plant Buyer/Manager