Sweetspire Song and Dance

I like plants in the garden that do more than one thing. You know, like sing and dance. This is a picture of the Sweetspire today, all fall-y and reddish and one of the first shrubs or trees to really show fall leaf color.
And here it was in the spring, blooming in early mid June. It waited until a lot of the other showier shrubs like lilac and forsythia were done before it bloomed. It's not going to cause someone to slam on the brakes while driving by but does provide a nice bloom for a few weeks.

If you are looking for native shrubs, I can recommend this from my own experience. It doesn’t get more than 3 or 4 feet tall, will spread just as wide, has these pretty white hanging flowers in June (at least here in central Indiana zone 5) and maroon-red foliage in the fall. And because it doesn’t get THAT big, shearing or pruning is not required (or desired). How could you miss with this one?

This particular Sweetspire is Itea virginiana 'Henry's Garnet'. I’ve only occasionally cut off a few dead branches, but otherwise have not had to do anything to this shrub. It occurs naturally in wet areas, but mine is not in a particularly wet area, and seems to be doing fine. But, it would be a nice shrub if you have a wet area in the garden and need to fill it with something that offers some interest in late spring and then again in fall and won't have to be pruned or babied along.

That's it for now, I am heading out to do some fall clean up, mow the lawn (fun!) and generally see what other trouble I can get into in the garden.


  1. Oh yummy! I just planted one of these last spring. I am looking forward to next year when it is a trifle bigger.


  2. I just was looking at one of these... are the flowers as fragrant as the retailers say?

  3. I don't think the flowers are all that fragrant, as I recall. There may be a scent, but it doesn't knock you over or turn your head the way a lilac does.

    Perhaps the retailer is thinking of Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) which does have a nice scent.

    It is still a good shrub to get.


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