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Virginia Sweetspire

Itea virginica

Virginia SweetspireItea 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.

Itea virginica Henry’s Garnet

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.

Itea virginica Little Henry

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

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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