Plant DetailShow Menu

Itea virginica

Phonetic Spelling
eye-TEE-ah ver-JIN-ih-kah
Description

Virginia Willow is a deciduous to tardily deciduous shrub that may grow 6 to 8 feet tall. The leaves are alternate with a finely toothed margin. The bark is smooth and gray in young trees. The bark turns brown and develops splits as the tree ages. In early summer, small, white flowers occur in terminal arching racemes. The shrub produces a woody capsule that matures in late summer. It has beautiful fall color.

Virginia Sweetspire prefers moist, rich, slightly acidic humusy soils in partial sun to partial shade, but tolerates a wide range of soil conditions (like neutral or alkaline soils). This plant has average fertility and it tolerant of wet or dry sites. It is a drought-tolerant shrub adapted to shady, damp areas, and works well for planting in low or wet sites in your landscape. It blooms best with 2 hours of full sun per day. It can form dense colonies by root suckering if left unchecked, can spread to the point of being invasive. This plant blooms in June-July on previous season's wood, so pruning should be done after flowering. Flowers are slightly fragrant. In the fall, this plant has yellow, orange, burgundy, and crimson in color. This plant is persistent and can be spectacular.

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Avoid over-fertilization.  

Quick ID Hints:

  • Plant is 2"-6" long, has pubescent raceme, and is very showy with small, white flowers.
  • Has pubescent petiole with groove on upper side.
  • Green to reddish-purple stem (on sun side) with crescent shaped leaf scars.
  • Short branches have a superposed bud, are imbricate, and reddish green.
  • Leaves are 11⁄2"-4" long, with a finely serrated margin.  

 

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Henry's Garnet'
    An excellent compact selection with a vibrant, reddish-purple fall color. This plant has long racemes and grows to 3' or 4'.
  • 'Little Henry'
    A popular dwarf cultivar with an attractive arching form that grows 3'-5' tall.
  • 'Sarah Eve'
  • 'Saturnalia'
Tags:
#fragrant#arching#butterflies#evergreen#deciduous#fall color#birds#songbirds#rain garden#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#semi-evergreen#weed#wildlife plant#showy#weedy#nectar plant#native shrub#riparian#wetlands#playground#wet sites#food source#cpp#low flammability#NC native#children's garden#fire resistant#pruning#edible seeds#fantz#evergreen shrub#food source summer#butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Henry's Garnet'
    An excellent compact selection with a vibrant, reddish-purple fall color. This plant has long racemes and grows to 3' or 4'.
  • 'Little Henry'
    A popular dwarf cultivar with an attractive arching form that grows 3'-5' tall.
  • 'Sarah Eve'
  • 'Saturnalia'
Tags:
#fragrant#arching#butterflies#evergreen#deciduous#fall color#birds#songbirds#rain garden#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#semi-evergreen#weed#wildlife plant#showy#weedy#nectar plant#native shrub#riparian#wetlands#playground#wet sites#food source#cpp#low flammability#NC native#children's garden#fire resistant#pruning#edible seeds#fantz#evergreen shrub#food source summer#butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Itea
    Species:
    virginica
    Family:
    Iteaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern United States
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers attract butterflies and other insects. Seeds are eaten by songbirds.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edible fruit
    Fragrance
    Textural
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to fire in the landscape. This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Clumping
    Erect
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Good Dried
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Woody capsules arranged in racemes, showy in the fall. Fruits are slim, pubescent, have tiny seeds, are 1/3" long, and are persistent into the following year.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The Virginia willow features fragrant, tiny white flowers borne in cylindrical, drooping pubescent racemes (3-6" long) that cover the shrub with bloom in late spring to early summer. The flowers open from base to tip, are lightly fragrant and are borne on previous season's growth. Flowers are very showy.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Orange
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Elliptical, alternate, simple dark green leaves (1-4" long and 1 1/4" wide) turn varying shades of red, orange and gold in autumn on the Virginia willow. It has a long period of fall colors, including mahogany, yellow, orange and reddish colors, with leaves often persisting on the plants until early winter. Leaves have an acute apex and cuneate base, have a finely serrated margin, are glabrous above and can be slightly pubescent below. Pubescent petiole up to 1/4" long with a groove on the upper side.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Buds:
    Scaly
    Stem Leaf Scar Shape:
    C-shaped, Cresent shaped
    Stem Description:
    Stems have a medium thickness, are green to reddish-purple in color on sun side, are glabrous, and have crescent-shaped leaf scars. Buds are superposed, imbricate, and reddish-green on short branches.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Riparian
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Fire
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Weedy