The Virginia Sweetspire is also known by the nickname Little Henry. This plant has a captivating look because of its creamy, fragrant white flowers and dark green leaves. Henry Sweetspire is able to steal any flower show not only by its looks but also because of its low maintenance needs.
The Henry Sweetspire beauty also lies in its foliage. The foliage turns different colors in different seasons. Its leaves are bright green in color during the spring and summer seasons. Then from there it slowly changes color to orange and then turns completely red in the autumn.
Hence Henry Sweetspire has red fall color. The Henry Sweetspire’s sweet-smelling white flowers appear in the summer and late spring. Henry Sweetspire is not a very large plant and can grow up to 2 to 3 feet tall. Its maximum height is five feet, but it is still a small size plant. Its size makes it easy to prune as well.
The plant can be used to create charming shrub borders in gardens. Little Henry Sweetspire can also be planted in containers indoors, but only until established. Then it needs the outdoors and the full sun.
Little Henry Sweetspire belongs to the Iteaceae family and is a deciduous shrub. It is a woody plant and sheds its leaves at the end of the season, usually during the dry season.
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Little Henry Sweetspire is a rounded and widespread shrub with tilting branches. It grows less than five feet in height and has an average height of three to four feet. Its fragrant white flowers are cylindrical in shape and shoot out from the foliage. When viewed from far it looks like fireworks shooting out from within the foliage.
Little Henry Sweetspire makes excellent perennial and shrub borders. These plants’ leaves are olive green in color and oval-shaped. They measure one to four inches in size. The leaves don’t fall till early on in the winter season. You can also compare Little Henry Sweetspire with other Missouri native species, but it has better flowers and a more vibrant color, especially in the fall.
Little Henry Plant Care
Little Henry Sweetspire is also a low-maintenance plant with average watering needs. It thrives in well-drained soils that are slightly acidic. Loamy and clay soil tend to work well. The soil should be well-drained, albeit moist. Butterflies are usually attracted to this rather beautiful plant.
Little Henry Sweetspire has multiple garden usage. It is used to decorate garden beds and garden borders. It can also be planted as ground cover and along the edges of ponds, streams, and hedges. Little Henry’s cream-colored fragrant flowers are quite decorative and aesthetically appealing. Little Henry also has high toleration levels.
It can bear growing in heavily shaded areas and can also endure soil erosion. It can also get accustomed to growing in wet soil and many other soil conditions.
However, if Little Henry is left unattended, it can form colonies through root suckering.
Little Henry, or the Itea Virginica Sprich, is a low-maintenance plant and requires medium to wet moisture levels. It responds well under sunlight or full shade. It can tolerate hot climates but only when watered regularly. If you are growing little Henry in warm weather, it’s best to keep the plant in partial shade to stay cool. This plant matures at the rate of one inch per week. The addition of the Itea Virginica Sprich makes a rather beautiful garden.
You need to feed granular fertilizer or water-soluble fertilizers to this plant in order to grow and thrive. Fertilizing Little Henry once every three weeks is a good idea. This should be done, especially from April to August. During the growing season, the application of fertilizer is not necessary since a regular periodic supply is good enough for it to grow.
This plant does not require regular pruning. If you want it to have a certain shape or want to control its size, then you can prune it as needed. You should be careful when you do the pruning. If you do it in the spring season, the plant can lose its flower buds. When the blooming season for flowers is over, it’s best to prune them. This way, the plant can develop for the next bloom.
This plant has a way of being fertile by suckering. It is a suckering shrub, which means it grows new shoots around its original base that spread very quickly. If you want to control its spread, you can just pluck the unwanted extra shoots whenever you see them by pruning.
Usually, you do this so that a suckering plant doesn’t take away the energy from the main plant. But if you want to propagate, then suckering is a great help. Little Henry multiplies easily if you cut its root balls into small parts. You can use a sharp spade to do so and then replant that section in another location.
Propagate by Seed
You can collect small brown seeds from the seed pods when it’s summer or the beginning of autumn. You may just open up the pod and extract the seeds from there. Then store these seeds in a sealed container and in a refrigerator till next spring. You can germinate the seeds in a pot if you want to keep them indoors. Just put the seeds in one inch of the soil and keep the soil moist. When you see a small plant from the seeds with the root in place, you can move it outdoors to thrive.
Potting Little Henry
Little Henry or the Virginia Sweetspire can be potted and repotted fairly easily. This plant can also be grown inside a pot or container for its season. When the plants’ roots are well formed, they might try to fight their way out of the container. This is when you can replant Little Henry outdoors.
Does Little Henry Survive Well in Winter?
Little Henry is known to survive well in winter. Harsh cold weather may affect the plants’ tips and a little die back may be noticeable. However, the plant tends to come back with full force in early spring season. Little Henry is a remarkably hardy plant with no serious problems, as listed above. Also, as deer avoid this plant, its leaves are not eaten by them.
Little Henry is prone to developing leaf spots or even flea beetles though, so one needs to be careful of that. One way to avoid this is to apply neem oil to the plant.
What if My Little Henry Does Not Bloom?
There could be several reasons why your Little Henry or Virginia Sweetspire may not bloom. One major reason could be that the plant is not receiving enough water. This plant needs to be kept in well-drained soil that remains moist. This plant must also receive sunlight to grow well and bloom. The best results are achieved if this shrub is also planted in acidic soil conditions.
The Virginia Sweetspire is also prone to getting chlorosis if the pH level of the soil where its planted reaches over 7. When this happens, there is a shortage of chlorophyll in the plant. This causes the plant’s leaves to fade and lose color. Eventually, they leave, start turning yellow in color, and die. To reverse this condition, the soil needs to become more acidic. Adding organic matter in the soil, such as leaves or sawdust, helps. You can also try adding pelted Sulphur to it.
The Virginia Sweetspire, Itea virginica or Little Henry, is deciduous and shrub-like. It has branches that arch; its most noticeable feature is its fragrant flowers. These flowers are creamy, cylindrical and droopy. The flowers usually bloom near the end of spring and in the beginning of summer. The plant also as dark green, oval-ish leaves. The leaves usually turn hues of orange, gold, and red in the autumn season. Fall colors are usually long-lasting on this plant and last till the beginning of winter.
Little Henry’s genus name is derived from the Greek term meaning ‘willow’. This is because Little Henry’s cluster of flowers is similar to some flowers growing on willows. This plant does not have any specific problems linked to it, such as diseases or insect infestations. It has been noted that Deer tend to avoid this quite odd plant. The Little Henry is known to naturalize in informal or wild areas.
Even though Little Henry does not grow beyond a four to five-foot-high shrub, its roots need to be severed. If the roots are not monitored and severed, they slowly colonize. This versatile plant is resistant to the full sun or even droughts once well established. These plants make great borders along the line of a property or a walkway due to their beauty and low-maintenance nature.
Multiple Little Henrys planted together can uplift the aesthetics of that garden space remarkably. You can also plant these shrubs with a Diabolo ninebark to form an excellent shrub combination.
If your Little Henry is well cared for, it can live up to forty years. You can also plant your Little Henry in a container and grow it indoors, but only until its root system is well-formed. After a year, once its roots begin struggling for more room, plant your Little Henry in the ground outside.
The Little Henry is best planted with other shrubs to create a great artistic feel. It is best to plant it with other similar shrubs, such as the Burning Bush or the Hollyleaf Sweetspire. But beware, the Burning Bush is more prone to pests and diseases than Little Henry. The Hollyleaf Sweetspire can also grow quite large in size. It can reach up to twelve feet in height and may require pruning.
The Virginia Sweetspire is affectionately referred to as ‘Little Henry’ by plant enthusiasts. This is a hardy and versatile plant that thrives outdoors. You can grow Little Henry in a container indoors but once established, it needs to be transferred outside.
Little Henry is a four to five-foot-high shrub with dark green foliage and creamy flowers. This vibrant and aesthetic shrub can lift your entire garden space. If you want a scenic yard with vibrant hues through the seasons, planting Little Henry is a great idea. You can also plant this shrub along walkways, as ground cover, or alongside garden beds. The Virginia Sweetspire or Little Henry will add a personality and a pop of color to your outdoors!