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Tolerates high pH soils.

Itea Scarlet Beauty™

Higher soil pH tolerance than any other selection. No yellow leaves!

Scarlet Beauty™ is a summer-flowering shrub with excellent fall color. This selection has superior hardiness and a higher soil pH tolerance than other cultivars of the species. An easy-to-grow native shrub selected from the collections at The Morton Arboretum. The white flowers are densely borne on numerous pendant 3-inch-long inflorescences that are produced from mid-June to early July, when few other shrubs are in bloom. The flowers have a faint but pleasing fragrance and are attractive to butterflies. Medium-green foliage all summer changes to deep orange-red to red-purple in autumn, peaking in early November and persisting through a very hard frost. In milder climates, the colorful foliage can persist much of the winter. The stems can also turn a pleasing red color during winter months. ‘Morton’ is a beautiful selection of a native shrub that is cultivated for its summer bloom, its beautiful red fall foliage, and its shade and moist soil adaptability. More tolerant than other sweetspire selections to the alkaline soils common to much of the Midwest. Grow as a specimen plant or mass on moist banks for soil stabilization. Utilize on moist soils along ponds and waterways, at the edge of woodland gardens, under landscape trees, and in the mixed shaded border. Place where both the summer flowers and autumn foliage color can be appreciated. Best grown on moist to wet soils with ample organic matter. As with most selections of Virginia sweetspire, ‘Morton’ prefers an acidic soil, but is tolerant of and will out-perform (notably a lack of leaf chlorosis) most other selections when grown on neutral to alkaline soils. Foliage chlorosis on this selection is more often an indicator the site is too dry or of drought than of a high pH intolerance. Best for partial shade, but will tolerate full sun with an adequate moisture supply. It will also persist in deep shade but will be leggier and not as floriferous.

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Please note: Download hi-res photos from the photo gallery at the bottom of the page.

Who Am I?

  • Common Name

    Scarlet Beauty Virginia sweetspire
  • Botanical Name

    Itea virginica 'Morton'
  • Type

  • US Native?

  • Origin

    Selected in 1999 by Kris Bachtell of The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois, from a plant that has been in the Arboretum’s collection since the late 1950s.

  • Bloom Time

    Early summer
  • Bloom Color


Cultural Details

  • Bloom Time

    Early summer
  • Size

    3-4' tall by 4' wide
  • Hardiness Zone

  • Light

    Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil

    Adaptable. Can handle highly alkaline and high pH soils.
  • Moisture

    Wet to dry soil conditions
  • Disease & Pests

    None known
  • Landscape Use

    Borders, foundations, naturalized plantings, wet areas, urban gardens
  • Propagation

    Softwood Cuttings

Available Photos

Hover over images to download hi-res files.