The name "" itea "" comes from the Greek, it means "" willow "" because of its resemblance to these. The itea is a shrub that has North American origins; the itea family includes about ten species of deciduous shrubs and evergreen trees. Some of these varieties are native to temperate or tropical Asia. The plant has serrated and varnished foliage, with creamy white panicles scented in summer. In autumn, the leaves take on a remarkable mahogany red color. The leaves are alternate; their flowers are gathered in clusters, with 5 pure white petals and 5 sepals which are persistent on the capsules. The latter contain 5 stamens, as well as a 2-celled ovary. As for the fruit, it is made of a capsule with 2 furrows containing blackish and tapered seeds. We confuse the species with holly, however its leaves are much less leathery. The flowering is particularly remarkable, presented in catkins of green color on approximately 50 cm. We appreciate its flowering twigs because they hold very well in a vase, for floral arrangements. The American species, however, offers a less impressive show at flowering, with white ears of about 6 cm in July. The leaves are also alternate, can be toothed and display this beautiful characteristic mahogany purple color in the fall. The fall of the leaves is very late, it occurs only at the beginning of winter. The shrub has low light requirements, it can thrive in a clear and humid undergrowth.

Plantation of itea

This shrub supports regions with a Mediterranean climate or on the Atlantic coast. The soil should not be too rich in limestone; we will plant more readily in a mass of heather earth. It can certainly be planted in full sun or partial shade, the main thing being to maintain a cool temperature on the ground. The soil should be light, sandy and moist (ideally in an undergrowth). The evergreen variety demands fresh, rich and deep soil, especially in the first years of its life. Over time, this itea better endures drought periods, as it is a less hardy variety. Thus, it can also be planted in the same areas as the olive tree, or in a free hedge to garnish a swimming pool edge. The itea should be planted in autumn, in a fairly large, lightened hole with peat, sand and potting soil (if necessary). The evergreen variety will be better established in a sheltered location, especially in regions with harsh winters.

Itea maintenance

For a healthy culture, we will avoid overfeeding the land, which would facilitate the sucking of iteas (risk of invasion). The plant should be mulched with pine needles or ferns, which will keep the soil cool. In terms of size, it can be done directly after flowering, in early autumn. Avoid too late pruning at all costs, which risks suppressing flowering. Stems that are too long can be removed and the branches shortened by half at most. To multiply itea, they can be cut in summer. However, the species tend to suckle, allowing the removal of suckers in the fall.

The pests of itea

The itea has no particular enemies in its natural environment.

Using itea

The flowering stems are very popular for flower arrangements.