Itea virginica (Virginia Sweetspire) is a native shrub for many in zones 5-9 which will adapt to just about any soil (even though its preference is for moist, well drained soil). It is a full sun to part shade plant and can tolerate filtered shade in zone 7 (which is what my woodland garden is). This native beauty is known for its drooping white flowers in spring and its gorgeous burgundy foliage in the fall.According to the Missouri Botanical Garden the height and width for this plant is 3-4′ H and 4-6′ W which may be the average growth of the plant in colder zones. However, in my woodland garden here in zone 7b the mother plant is over 5′ tall and has sent out shoots as far as 10′ away thereby colonizing the woodland area and giving me the opportunity to share with other neighbors this native shrub. It is growing in filtered sun under the canopies of 50′ Oak trees and has been in place for about 6 years. The soil is more on the dry side and it has been known to wilt when there has been no rain for a month.
I planted it years ago for its beautiful burgundy fall color and for its carefree and spreading habit. Even though this is a native plant, it can be invasive in an area but it is not a hard plant to contain. If left to grow, the plant will fill in an area.
What I love about this plant that it is mostly evergreen in my area. In the colder zones it will be semi evergreen and probably lose most of its leaves in the dead of winter. There is no pruning needed and the fragrant flowers attract all kinds of bees and butterflies in the spring and in the fall and winter the birds will eat any berries the shrub produces. It is a great plant to attract birds, bees, and butterflies to your yard and garden.
Many gardeners suggest this plant for rain gardens and wet areas. It is an excellent plant for naturalizing and a great addition to woodland gardens where you need to fill in a large area. I personally suggest and plant this in large areas for naturalizing because this plant spreads at a moderate to fast rate here in zone 7b. It is also a great plant to easily divide by simply digging up a small plant from the original and planting it in a new spot. No fuss. Just keep watered for a couple months and then there is nothing left to do!
I need to add that Henry’s Garnet is a cultivar of the Virginia Sweetspire and has some of the very same qualities so if you find it at a nursery or local garden center then it will have many of the same traits and will work to naturalize the area.
Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!
2014/2015 copyrighted material C Renee Fuller
to read more about this native shrub check out the links below for a bit more detail