Virginia sweetspire Little Henry
* Common name: Virginia sweetspire Little Henry(R)
* Botanical name: Itea virginica ‘Sprich’
* What it is: A compact, native flowering shrub that gets white, arching, bottle-brush flower clusters in late spring and then glossy, rich red leaves for weeks in fall.
* Size: Grows 3 to 4 feet tall and best kept to about 4 feet wide. Will gradually colonize wider if you don’t sever root shoots.
* Where to use: Little Henry is very versatile. Part shade and damp soil is ideal, but it’ll also take shade or full sun and even a fairly brutal drought once established. Makes a nice foundation plant but also works well as a low ornamental hedge or edging shrub, such as along a property line or walk.
* Care: Keep well watered the first full year until roots establish. The main maintenance is to shear plants back to about 2 feet immediately after bloom in late spring or early summer. Also snip off any dead branch tips after plants leaf out in early spring. Sever any root shoots that pop up where you don’t want them to spread and plant them in a new area or give to friends. (They re-root easily.) A feeding at winter’s end with a balanced, granular organic fertilizer such as Plant-tone is optional.
* Great partner: Try ringing three or four Little Henries around a dark-leafed ‘Diabolo’ ninebark for a great shrub combo. In shadier spots, surround Little Henry with pink impatiens.