Shrubs that have features in more than one season as great garden additions, especially in a smaller garden, or for mass planting in larger ones. Virginia Sweetspire is an attractive native plant that has fragrant white flowers in summer that attract butterflies. In fall the leaves turn attractive colors. The Little Henry Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica) is a dwarf form of this plant with more flowers, improved fall color and a size that is better suited to smaller gardens or mass planting.
It makes the perfect addition to a shrub bed, among other smaller shrubs, or in front of larger ones, and it is also a perfect choice for mass planting on a bank or along a stream. This plant grows naturally in wet soil, so if you have low-lying wet areas, a stream or a pond, this is a perfect choice for those kinds of areas. Once established this plant will grow well in ordinary garden soil, and it will even tolerate moderate drought. It will grow in a wide range of light conditions, from full sun to full shade.
Growing Little Henry Virginia Sweetspire
The Little Henry Virginia Sweetspire is a deciduous shrub that grows just 2 or 3 feet tall and the same size across. It is a big improvement over the wild bush, not only for its compact size, but also for its abundant flowering and especially for its spectacular fall coloring. In fall this green shrub turns into a riot of orange and red that rivals even garden favorites like burning bush. In summer, sweetly scented pure white flowers grow. Each flower is less than half-an-inch across, but the individual flowers are clustered together in narrow cylinders 3 or 4 inches long, that shoot from the plant in all directions like a firework display. These flowers attract butterflies, bringing a wonderful collection of these charming insects to your garden and delighting all small children.
Plant your Little Henry Virginia Sweetspire bushes in a sunny or shady location; they will grow well in a wide range of light conditions, from full sun to full shade. The fall coloring will be strongest on plants in the sun. As for soil, it will grow in all kinds of soil, from wet to dry, but plants will be their most vigorous in soil with plenty of moisture. To use this plant as a ground-cover on banks or in hollows, space the plants 2 feet apart in an irregular way.
Care and Maintenance
No trimming is required to keep this plant small and bushy, but it may benefit from the occasional removal of old branches. These should be cut at ground level, to encourage new shoots to develop, keeping your plants thick and lush. New growth will often emerge from the roots to make your cover thick and dense. This plant has no serious pests or diseases and it is usually not eaten in the winter by deer.
History and Origins of Little Henry Sweetspire
Virginia Sweetspire (Cyrilla racemiflora) is more commonly known by its old name of Itea virginica. It is an American native shrub that grows wild across eastern North America, from southern Virginia through the south into Florida, and west into Texas. It is also found in the Caribbean, Central America and Brazil and Colombia. In Florida it is often called Swamp Titi. The plant has oval leaves with fine serrations along the edges, which look a little like willow leaves, and it has been grown as a larger form, ‘Henry’s Garnet’, for a long time.
The variety trademarked as Little Henry was discovered by chance as an unusual branch on the taller variety ‘Meadowlark’. It was found in 1998 by Richard Feist, in Burlington, Kentucky, and patented. Plants grown from seed will not resemble this plant – they will be much larger and they will lack the brilliant fall colors. Avoid cheaper plants that are not labelled as ‘Little Henry’, as they will be a great disappointment to you.
Buying Little Henry Virginia Sweetspire at The Tree Center
Little Henry Virginia Sweetspire is an excellent garden plant that can find a home in any garden, bringing summer flowers and fall brilliance. We guarantee that our plants are the correct dwarf variety, and we know that this plant is in high demand, for its beauty and ease of growth. To avoid disappointment, order now while stocks last! We also invite you to browse our inventory of other unique shrubs, including plants like Victory Firethorn and Red Tip Photinia.