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Clethra alnifolia (Sweet pepperbush)

Clethra alnifolia Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice' Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Park Seed


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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Botanical Name: Clethra alnifolia KLETH-rah all-nih-FOE-lee-ah Common Name: Sweet pepperbush Genus: Clethra
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 characteristics: Cultivars include ‘Paniculata’, ‘Rosea’, ‘Pink Spires’, and ‘Hummingbird’. Blooms well in shady areas.
Care: Site in dappled or partial shade and fertile, acidic, moist but well-drained soil. In winter, remove some of the oldest wood at the base.
Propagation: Sow seed at 43° to 54°F in spring or autumn. Root greenwood cuttings in early summer.
Problems: Fungal dieback and root rot can occur.
Height 6 ft. to 10 ft.
Spread 6 ft. to 10 ft.
Growth Habit Spreads
Growth Pace Invasive/Aggressive Grower
Light Full Sun to Part Shade
Moisture Medium Moisture
Maintenance Low
Tolerance Deer Tolerant
Characteristics Attracts Hummingbirds; Fragrant Flowers; Native
Bloom Time Late Summer; Summer
Flower Color Pink Flower; White Flower
Uses Beds and Borders
Style Shade, Woodland Garden
Seasonal Interest Summer Interest, Fall Interest
Type Shrubs

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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

‘Sixteen Candles’ summersweet is a newer cultivar of a popular native shrub. This compact selection reaches 3 to 5 feet tall. In summer, ‘Sixteen Candles’ is topped with aromatic, erect, butterfly-enticing white blooms for 4 to 6 weeks. In fall, the leaves turn an attractive yellow.

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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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.

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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Very fragrant, light pink bottlebrush flowers grace this native shrub in late summer and early fall, attracting butterflies and other insects and perfuming the garden for weeks. Plant it in beds or borders, in a woodland or shade garden, or at waterside. It also has nice fall color.

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