When you imagine the perfect plant for your garden, what characteristics come to mind? Do you look for color, visual interest, scent? Something you can enjoy all year long or one season at a time? Something easy to care for, or perhaps attractive to your favorite birds and butterflies?
If any of that fits your ideal, then whether you realize it or not, you’ve just imagined Sweetspire! This versatile shrub is native from New Jersey to Texas and it has so much going for it that it’s hard to believe Mother Nature packed so much goodness into one little plant.
In this Spotlight series we highlight special shrubs, trees and flowers that bring something unique to your garden. Today we’re sharing a little bit about Sweetspire, and we’re betting that’s all you’ll need to fall in love with this fantastic shrub.
Beauty Through Any Season
One of the qualities we love in a plant is its ability to delight us through multiple seasons. While there is always room in a garden for springtime bulbs and fall foliage, it’s a good idea to have some reliable plants that will evolve along with the seasons. This is just one place where Sweetspire excels.
The elegant, arching stems of Sweetspire unfold in alternating patterns of deep green leaves in early spring, with white bottlebrush flowers appearing later in May or June.
Depending on the variety, the flowers may be erect, or droop gracefully over the foliage. These delicate clusters will delight you for a number of weeks, not only with their beautiful blooms but with their sweet, fragrant scent.
The oval leaves elongate and become an even richer green in your late summer garden, and when autumn arrives, Sweetsprie will burst into flames of red, orange, yellow and purple. Sweetspire is considered semi-evergreen, because its leaves and color will last long into winter months, through temperatures as cold as 15 degrees.
Care & Maintenance
Sweetspire is a sight to behold, but it has some hidden beauties, too. It’s one of the easiest shrubs to grow, in just about any average soil, including wet or clay. It can also grow in both full sun and part shade, but for the best flowers and fall color, aim for full sun and well-drained soil with a moderate amount of moisture.
It grows well in hot conditions and can tolerate short droughts, but if you keep it watered throughout the worst, it will reward you with its full glory.
It can grow in soothing arcs up to five feet tall, and looks particularly stunning when planted in groups.
Pruning isn’t necessary, but since it blooms on old wood, you should only prune it immediately after it blooms if you want to control its shape and size without jeopardizing its growth and beauty.
It is otherwise low maintenance and will thrive with a small amount of TLC – just keep it well-watered in its first year as it establishes roots, and moderately moist throughout its lifespan. Under good conditions, it can grace your garden with its color, texture, scent and beauty for as many as 40 years!
Why We Love It
Beyond its gorgeous flowers and foliage, simple care routine, and versatility, Sweetspire is also an excellent addition to your landscape for attracting pollinators. It is a magnet for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, adding yet another layer of enjoyment to your outdoor space.
It has the added benefit of being deer resistant and virtually pest-free. For those who want to try their green thumb, Sweetspire is easy to propagate from cuttings, or by snipping one of its suckered roots from the main plant.
After the flowers fade, Sweetspire develops lovely brown seed pods that you can enjoy as an added textural element, or collect and store until spring when you can plant them again.
It works well as ground cover, will thrive at the edge of your pond, makes an excellent border plant and will even aid in areas where soil erosion is a concern.
Depending on the cultivar you choose, you can enjoy blooms from pure white to pale pink, and leaves in a variety of autumn shades.
For a four-season garden, Sweetspire is at the top of our “favorites” list. If you’ve learned something that has inspired you to add this beauty to your garden, contact us for a consultation and let’s work together to plan year-round color, texture and visual appeal into your space.