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The Plant Guide

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Sweet pepperbush

Clethra alnifolia

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Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice'

This upright, suckering shrub has fragrant, white or pink terminal flower spikes in late summer. The blooms look like bottle brushes and attract butterflies and bees. Leaves turn a pleasant yellow in autumn.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsCultivars include ‘Paniculata’, ‘Rosea’, ‘Pink Spires’, and ‘Hummingbird’. Blooms well in shady areas.

CareSite in dappled or partial shade and fertile, acidic, moist but well-drained soil. In winter, remove some of the oldest wood at the base.

PropagationSow seed at 43° to 54°F in spring or autumn. Root greenwood cuttings in early summer.

ProblemsFungal dieback and root rot can occur.

  • Genus : Clethra
  • Zones : 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Plant Height : 6 to 10 feet
  • Plant Width : 6 to 10 feet
  • Characteristics : Attracts Hummingbirds, Fragrant Flowers
  • Tolerance : Deer Tolerant
  • Growth Rate : Fast
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Bloom Time : Late Summer, Summer
  • Maintenance : Low
  • Moisture : Medium Moisture
  • Flower Color : Pink, White
  • Uses : Shade
  • Plant Type : Shrubs
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Summer Interest
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