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The Plant Guide

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Sweet pepperbush

Clethra alnifolia 'Hummingbird'

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This upright, suckering shrub bears creamy white, deliciously spicy clove-scented flowers in dense, upright spikes that last four to six weeks in July and August. It is more compact than the species. Flowers mature to spikes of dark brown capsules that provide winter interest. Its oval, glossy dark green leaves turn a pleasant yellow in autumn.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsA favorite of bees, this compact, rounded shrub is ideal for small gardens, growing 3 feet tall and wide at maturity. The species is native to the eastern U.S.

CareThrives in consistently moist but well-drained soil in full sun to partial or dappled shade but is highly adaptable to other conditions. More floriferous than the species, it provides good bloom in shady locations. In winter, remove some of the oldest wood from the base; the stronger new growth will replace it in spring. Blooms on current year growth.

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
  • Plant Height : 1 to 3 feet
  • Plant Width : 1 to 3 feet
  • Zones : 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Bloom Time : Early Fall, Fall, Late Summer, Summer
  • Characteristics : Fragrant Flowers
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Moisture : Medium Moisture
  • Maintenance : Moderate
  • Plant Type : Shrubs
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Summer Interest
  • Flower Color : White
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