Henry's Garnet Virginia sweetspire is a favored "naturalistic" shrubs because it has multi-season interest and wears well in innumerable garden styles.
In spring, the 6" long, white pendulous flowers dangle all over the shrub like a designer who loves tassels and fringe. Then it looks well-dressed all summer with arching branches and green leaves; wrapping it up with outstanding red-turning-burgundy attire in the autumn.
Have you noticed that the winter-bare, arching, red/burgundy-colored stems add winter interest? Use that feature to advantage.
At my old house in town, I planted Henry's Garnet right next to an unsightly, yellow-painted curb - this sweetspire colonized the area and the red winter stems popped out against that yellow, the pine-straw, and the dwarf evergreen backdrop. (I did add loads of compost to that curb-side bed, so this woodland/waterway native was, indeed, very happy with the soil.)
Regarding gardens uses, its fits in as well in:
- a naturalistic shrub/woods setting;
- or along a body of water;
- or dotted along a dry creek bed;
- as it does when colonizing a modern suburban landscape;
- or a grand sweeping estate yard;
- as it fit in colonizing and beautifying my ugly curbside downtown. Which is to say, very well.
We do like a worthy awards ceremony, so here's a badge on Henry's Garnet chest: it received a Gold Medal from the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society.
The newest hotness is Itea virginica Love Child, because it's a foot shorter than Henry's Garnet. LC has grown very well for us in containers and we have it planted out in . . . where else but the Itea garden (side-by-side with several types, that are all doing great because Itea is great).
pollinator plant, long flowering period, fragrant flowers
Henry's Garnet Virginia sweetspire, Virginia-willow
USDA Hardiness Zones
flowering shrub, deciduous
- Spring: green
- Summer: medium green
- Fall: red, burgundy
Fall Leaf Color Quality
Soil Moisture Requirements
average garden, moist or wet soils (it grows streamside in the wild)
Soil pH Requirements
acid to neutral
sun, part shade, shade
To Make It Thrive
Sweetspires prefer acid soils; avoid high pH (alkaline) conditions or chlorosis and general decline will cause you disappointment. This species prefers moist/wet soils (streamsides are its native habitat), however, Henry's Garnet is more drought tolerant than expected - it is commonly planted in neighborhoods with compacted soils and no supplemental water source - in such situations it does okay, but looks tired by the end of summer. It will do better with with supplemental irrigation. In modern landscapes, with these back-filled soils that are low in organic matter, work compost into the soils and your Itea will be happier. Be especially sure to mulch it to help keep the soil moist. It does love the acidity of our back-filled soils, so you're all set there!