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Merlot Itea

Itea virginica 'Merlot'

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Merlot Itea (Itea virginica 'Merlot') at Rutgers Landscape & Nursery

Merlot Itea in fall

Merlot Itea in fall

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Merlot Itea (Itea virginica 'Merlot') at Rutgers Landscape & Nursery

Merlot Itea in fall

Merlot Itea in fall

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  4 feet

Spread:  3 feet

Sunlight:  full sun  partial shade  full shade 

Hardiness Zone:  5

Other Names:  Virginia Sweetspire


A dense, compact selection of a native shrub which features long and narrow panicles of white flowers in early summer, excellent burgundy to red fall color that persists into winter; spreads to form small colonies, good for borders or as a foundation

Ornamental Features

Merlot Itea is draped in stunning panicles of fragrant white flowers at the ends of the branches in early summer. It has green foliage throughout the season. The pointy leaves turn outstanding shades of burgundy and in the fall. The fruit is not ornamentally significant. The smooth brown bark and dark red branches add an interesting dimension to the landscape.

Landscape Attributes

Merlot Itea is a dense spreading deciduous shrub with a ground-hugging habit of growth. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.

This shrub will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should only be pruned after flowering to avoid removing any of the current season's flowers. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Suckering

Merlot Itea is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

Merlot Itea will grow to be about 4 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 3 feet. It tends to fill out right to the ground and therefore doesn't necessarily require facer plants in front. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 40 years or more.

This shrub performs well in both full sun and full shade. It is an amazingly adaptable plant, tolerating both dry conditions and even some standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This is a selection of a native North American species.

Merlot Itea makes a fine choice for the outdoor landscape, but it is also well-suited for use in outdoor pots and containers. Because of its spreading habit of growth, it is ideally suited for use as a 'spiller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination; plant it near the edges where it can spill gracefully over the pot. Note that when grown in a container, it may not perform exactly as indicated on the tag - this is to be expected. Also note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Massing  Garden  Naturalizing  Container 
Flowers  Fall Color  Bark  Winter Value 
Ornamental Features

Disclaimer - Rutgers Landscape & Nursery Plant Finder is an online resource representing many of the varieties that we carry over the course of the season, and is intended for informational purposes only. Inventory varies seasonally, so we cannot guarantee that every plant will be in stock at all times - please contact Rutgers directly for current availability.