Fizzy Mizzy: Making Sweetspire Cool Again
Itea virginica(sweetspire) is a versatile shrub native to the southeast United States. Almost impossible to kill; it’s happy from understory shade to sun, in wet areas, and in heavy clay. It makes a nice filler type of plant for native woodland borders. Most people only notice it in the late spring when it blooms, but it has a nice deep red fall color.
Unfortunately, it suckers quite a bit, and most older cultivars, like the classic Henry’s Garnet, get fairly big and rangy. It makes a decent filler for slopes, but its popularity has waned in favor of more eye-catching bloomers like hydrangeas and rhododendrons.
The fragrant blooms really are nice though, and it blooms well even in shade. It also has the added bonus of being deer-resistant, something that can’t be said about the more popular natives.
If you’ve shrugged off Itea, check out Fizzy Mizzy. It surprised us as one of our favorite new plants last year and is a big improvement in how it blooms. They stick out like spikes above the plant, giving it a fun, cheery appearance in the late spring when not much else is blooming. It’s also much more compact, growing just 3′ tall. Try some of these in the middle of the border with hydrangeas behind it for a flower show from spring to fall.
Whether it’s Fizzy Mizzy or one of the classics like Henry’s Garnet or Little Henry, Itea is a beautiful and easy-to-grow Asheville native that’s worth a second look. Particularly if deer are an issue for you.