Virginia Sweetpsire is a North American native shrub that definitely put the V in versatile. In early summer it produces cascading, white racemes of lightly fragrant blooms, its fall foliage is outstanding and, where winters are mild, it is semi-evergreen.

‘Little Henry’ is a variety of which I’m particularly fond. As the name implies this shrub stays compact, maturing at about 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. This means that it is not leggy like some of its cousins. It’s an excellent choice to slip into containers for seasonal color and then plant in the garden later.

Virginia Sweetspire can grow as far south as middle Florida and up into Northern states where the winter temperatures stay above -10 degrees F. Plant it in moist, fertile soil in full sun to full shade. It is pest and disease free and, once established, this shrub is quite drought tolerant. Pruning is rarely necessary, but if needed it should be done right after the blooms fade. Apply a tree and shrub slow release fertilizer in early spring. I grow Virginia Sweetspire on the south side of my house in dappled shade, but it can be grown in full sun as well.