Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Dwarf Virginia Sweetspire, Gooseberry
Itea virginica 'Little Henry'

Family: Grossulariaceae
Genus: Itea (eye-TEE-uh) (Info)
Species: virginica (vir-JIN-ih-kuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Little Henry
Additional cultivar information: (PP10988; aka Sprich)
Hybridized by Feist; Year of Registration or Introduction: 1999

9 vendors have this plant for sale.

11 members have or want this plant for trade.

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24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Good Fall Color

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 24 photos.
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8 positives
5 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Jan 3, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

This is the second most sold cultivar in southeast PA after 'Henry's Garnet.' It has smaller, more narrow leaves and a greater number of more slender stems than the mother species. It is a little shorter growing, usually to about 5 ft.

Positive jazzy1okc On Dec 10, 2013, jazzy1okc from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

If planted in good, rich soil, where it has shade from about 10 a.m. on, good air circulation, regular watering, and mulch this plant grows well in OKC. Its scent is lovely!

Positive plant_it On Apr 28, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

A versatile shrub for sun and shade. Specimen, group or mass. Shrub borders, open woodland gardens, foundations or hedges. Mass for a shrubby ground cover effect. Naturalizes well in wild or informal areas. Also a good selection for wet locations such as low spots or pond/stream margins.

This Virginia sweetspire cultivar is an extremely compact, rounded, deciduous shrub which typically grows to 2' tall with a slightly larger spread. Features fragrant, tiny white flowers borne in cylindrical racemes (3-4" long) which cover the shrub with bloom in late spring to early summer. Oval, dark green leaves (1-3" long) turn attractive shades of orange, red and purple in fall, often persisting on the shrub until December. LITTLE HENRY is a dwarf version of the native species, with superior flowers and better fall color than the species.

Easily grown in average, medium to wet soil in full sun to part shade. Adaptable to shade. Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, but prefers moist, humusy soils. Promptly remove root suckers to prevent any unwanted spread.

Attracts butterflies in Spring. Deers don't care for it. Fire resistant.

Neutral Ljw1970 On Jun 6, 2012, Ljw1970 from Indian Springs Village, AL wrote:

I just purchased this wonderful shrub. My sis in law had 2 in large pots and I fell in love with them. I bought and removed from original container and potted in a very large container. It has been 3 days since I potted it. It is in morning full sun. The leaves are now turning yellow and falling off. What does this mean and how can I save it???

Thanks. LJ

Positive BoPo On Jun 30, 2011, BoPo from Milwaukee, WI (Zone 5b) wrote:

Thrives in full sun in zone 5b, rich but clayish soil. I have him close to a fountain. Wonderful shrub, nice flowers mid summer and spectacular fall coloring. Little or no maintenance. Slow to wake up in spring.

Neutral efjaykay On Apr 23, 2010, efjaykay from Kitchener
Canada wrote:

I planted ten of these last season and they did very well. So far this spring, they look dead, although if you cut into a branch, it is still green. Are they normally very slow in budding? I have had no experience with them and am at a loss to know what to do.

Neutral shopnfox On Nov 2, 2009, shopnfox wrote:

I purchased several of these in spring 2008 to brighten a shady spot in my back yard. Last year they were beautiful- very full blossoms and foilage, quite enjoyable. This year they barely bloomed and were very sparse even though the weather was good, not near as hot and dry as last year. I was told to try adding hollytone to the soil and that next spring they should bounce back. In the meantime I have already lost 2 of 9. Does anyone else have any other suggestions or experiences with this plant?

Neutral wandygirl On Sep 29, 2008, wandygirl from Brookfield, CT wrote:

I question the "may be a noxious weed or invasive" label. Itea virginica is a native shrub and in CT is highly recommended as an alternative to the truly invasive winged euonymous (burning bush). By definition, a plant that is native cannot be labeled "invasive." It should be noted that this plant has the potential to form large colonies if it is given the conditions it prefers.

Neutral OTNB On Sep 29, 2008, OTNB from Orange Park, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I'm still out about this one..When I first planted 3 plants several years ago, they seemed to do pretty well; they had blossoms the first couple of years, but very sparse. They are planted where they do get partial sun/shade and they keep multiplying, but even with all the rain we had this year, they did not bloom at all.

Positive Sonshine445 On Sep 29, 2008, Sonshine445 from London, Ontario
Canada wrote:

I planted an Itea 'Little Henry' last year and am very pleased with it. This spring the flowers were scant because of a late frost, but it began to color up for fall in August, and last year, the leaves stayed on the plant for an extended period, some right into spring. The leaf color is rosy-purple and it makes a great accent for yellow foliaged plants. Highly recommended.

Positive Pamgarden On Jun 4, 2008, Pamgarden from Central, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Very nice size in the landscape, round and full and covered in pendulas white flowers that develop over several weeks in spring and draw bees and other small flying insects, but butterflies didn't seem all that interested. There was a slight aroma to the flowers, but not the fragrant plant the name suggests. Looks great among other shrubs that flower at the same time like spirea.

Positive aprilwillis On Jul 25, 2006, aprilwillis from Missouri City, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I love this shrub! Here in Houston w/ the intensity of the sun it really requires a lot of protection from the sun- which I could not give it! Had to dig it up and give it my daughter who has a much shadier yard. But it is beautiful and adds great fall color.

Positive CarolynBF On Apr 11, 2006, CarolynBF from Florissant, MO (Zone 5b) wrote:

I am very happy with this ever-changing shrub! In summer it has soft, touchable, drooping white flower clusters that remind me of caterpillars. Later these dry and turn brown, at which time they can be left on the shrub for textural effect or deadheaded. Then in the fall, the leaves turn scarlet and red. I highly recommend this one.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bessemer, Alabama
Pelham, Alabama
Lamar, Arkansas
Fairfield, California
Orange Park, Florida
Safety Harbor, Florida
Barrington, Illinois
Spring Grove, Illinois
Indianapolis, Indiana
Portland, Indiana
Valparaiso, Indiana
Des Moines, Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
Clermont, Kentucky
Georgetown, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Vacherie, Louisiana
Columbia, Maryland
Ijamsville, Maryland
Marlborough, Massachusetts
Spencer, Massachusetts
Ludington, Michigan
Florissant, Missouri
Papillion, Nebraska
Buffalo, New York
Johnson City, New York
Whitney Point, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Marshall, North Carolina
Bucyrus, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Mc Keesport, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Pickens, South Carolina
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Broaddus, Texas
Lubbock, Texas
Missouri City, Texas
Nellysford, Virginia
Cle Elum, Washington
Spokane, Washington
Vancouver, Washington
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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