Burgundy Spice Sweetshrub Adds Depth with Dark Foliage

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Virtues: 'Burgundy Spice', a cultivar of the southeast-US native Calycanthus florida, lends dimension to the shrub border with its striking dark purple-red leaves. A large shrub, it also offers interesting, fragrant flowers in late spring to early summer and golden fall foliage.

Through spring and summer, the foliage shines dark purple. In fall it shifts to shades of yellow.

Through spring and summer, the foliage shines dark purple. In fall it shifts to shades of yellow.

Common name: 'Burgundy Spice' sweetshrub

Botanical name: Calycanthus floridus var. purpureus 'Burgundy Spice'

Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Flowers: Appearing in late spring to early summer, the flowers are reddish colored. Each is framed by two purple leaves, setting them off well. They have a fruity fragrance. Flower buds are set on the year's new growth in spring, so any pruning should be done after flowering ends or during winter, before new growth begins.

Sweetshrubs, including 'Burgundy Spice', have axillary flowers, meaning that they occur at the spot where two leaves meet.

Sweetshrubs, including 'Burgundy Spice', have axillary flowers, meaning that they occur at the spot where two leaves meet.

Foliage: 'Burgundy Spice' was named for its dark purple-red foliage. The leaves combine this dark color with a high sheen. In the fall, the foliage shifts from its namesake burgundy to yellow and orange before dropping off for winter.

Habit: This sweetshrub grows to eight feet tall and six feet wide.

Origin: Bred and introduced by Pleasant Run Nursery, New Jersey, 'Burgundy Spice' is a cultivar of the species Calycanthus floridus, which is native to woodland edges and stream banks of the southeastern United States.

At maturity it can be eight feet tall.

At maturity it can be eight feet tall.

How to grow it: Site sweetshrub in full sun or part shade. It needs good drainage and regular moisture. It can spread by suckers and it grows tall, so give it ample space. USDA Zones 6–9.

Read more about sweetshrubs. 

Image credits:

Foliage detail courtesy of Pleasant Run Nursery. Flower detail and shrub by Paul Cappiello, Yew Dell Botanical Gardens.