Posted by & filed under Bees, Butterfly Gardens, Deer Resistant Plants, Full sun, Rain Garden Plants, Uncategorized

By Sandra Nelson

 

This week’s pick is by Philip Grubb, Horticulturist

 

Virginia Sweetspire

 

Photo by David J. Stang

 

Graceful in the spring, fragrant in the summer, striking in the fall and structural in the winter, this native deciduous shrub is truly an all-season plant. Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica) is easily grown in moist, well-drained soil, making it an ideal choice for the edges of rain gardens, low spots or areas that may occasionally flood. Reaching a mature height and width of only 3 to 5 feet (some cultivars reach only 2 feet), it does well in foundation plantings. Because it spreads easily by suckers, Sweetspire can also be used as a low hedge or for erosion control.

 

Photo Credit: Elsa Spezio

 

Virginia Sweetspire prefers full sun, but also grows well in part shade. Fragrant white flowers appear in June, with blooms often continuing throughout July. Although it rarely needs pruning, since it blooms on old wood, any shaping should be done immediately after blooming. Spring pruning risks losing flower buds. Be sure and water both thoroughly and consistently during times of extended drought.

Photo Credit: Virginia State Parks

 

Fall temperatures and shortened days turn Sweetspire’s dark green summer foliage into intense shades of red, purple orange and gold. Unlike many deciduous shrubs, Itea’s leaves tend to remain on the reddish-brown branches well into winter.

Deer seem to avoid Virginia Sweetspire, but butterflies and bees love it!

 

 

Photo Credit: SB_Johnny

 

 

 

Zones:  5-9

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