On Gardening: Fizzy Mizzy Sweetspire coming in 2022 to check off all your boxes


As gardeners start to look forward to what’s new in 2022, The Garden Guy is here to say a new native plant will arrive at your garden center that will get you all fizzed up. The plant I am talking about is Fizzy Mizzy Itea virginica or Virginia sweetspire.

Although they are named Virginia, they are native to 20 states plus Washington, D.C., and have to be among the best of the overlooked natives. Fizzy Mizzy will be the one Virginia sweetspire or Virginia willow you will not want to overlook.

In fact, Tim Wood, aka The Plant Hunter, says, “When picking out plants for Proven Winners, there is a lot of thought that goes into the selection. I look for plants that have multiple seasons of interest, that are compact and low maintenance. If it blooms at that garden center, fantastic. Add fragrance and distinctiveness, even better. Fizzy Mizzy checks off a lot of boxes. Yard space is precious, and plants have to earn it.”

Known for herbaceous flowers like Supertunia petunias, Superbells calibrachoa and Superbena verbena, Proven Winners has been developing quite an ensemble of shrubs and trees to meet the demands for outstanding plant material across the full spectrum of the landscape.

In the past few days, Sarah Ann Brown, a gardener in Dallas, was touting to her Instagram followers how the rich fall burgundy colors were developing in her Little Henry Virginia sweetspire. All the sweetspire fire up in color that persists long into the season.

While the native Virginia sweetspires reach their peak height between 5 and 8 feet, with branches bending over in an elegant, graceful habit, the Proven Winners varieties Little Henry, Scentlandia and the new Fizzy Mizzy are much shorter at 2 to 3 feet with an equal spread.

Fizzy Mizzy is much different, though. Not only are shrubs packed with what seem to be uncountable flowers, but the blooms are held erect in a most distinct fashion.

These gorgeous, clump-forming shrubs have other excellent virtues. They are disease- and insect-resistant and not on Bambi’s menu. They bring in an assortment of bees and butterflies, and unbeknownst to many, the tiny seeds that form are devoured by birds.

Fertile, well-drained soil is best, but they have the uncanny ability to thrive in moist, heavy soils, making them a champion to all. Virginia sweetspires are recommended for zones 5-9 and considered semi-evergreen with temperatures as low as 15 to 20 degrees and deciduous in colder climates. Records have shown them recovering from temperatures as cold as minus-20 degrees.

The ideal location is in a natural area where the plants receive morning sun and afternoon shade. They combine beautifully with late blooming azaleas and look ever-so picturesque with most hydrangeas no matter the color.

There are certainly native plants that deserve a place in your landscape, and you’ll find the new Fizzy Mizzy, Scentlandia and Little Henry among the best.

(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Norman Winter receives complimentary plants to review from the companies he covers.)

This story was originally published November 24, 2021 4:00 AM.

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