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Sweet Pepperbush Clethra alnifolia

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Sweet Pepperbush:

Phonetic Spelling
KLETH-rah al-nih-FOH-lee-ah
Description

This upright deciduous shrub often spreads into mounded clumps. Use clethra for summer flowers in wet, shady areas, particularly where the fragrance can be appreciated. The plant spreads by stolons.  It is a very hardy, carefree plant that is moderately salt tolerant.

‘Sixteen Candles’ and ‘Hummingbird’ are compact shrubs with white flowers.  ‘Rosea,’ ‘Pink Spires’ and ‘Ruby Spice’ are three pink-flowered cultivars.  ‘Ruby Spice’ is the darkest pink color, which holds even in the coastal plains.  ‘Sherry Sue’ sports white flowers and bright red stems.  ‘September Beauty’ is noteworthy for flowering later in the season. Another interesting species, Clethra tomentosa, has foliage that has soft, short hairs, and very long racemes.  The Japanese pepperbush, Clethra barbinervis, exhibits beautiful cinnamon-colored exfoliating bark as it matures.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Spider mites may be a concern in dry conditions.  When planted in the proper site, it is insect- and disease- resistant.

 

Cultivars:
  • 'Crystalinia'
  • 'Hummingbird'
  • 'Paniculata'
  • 'Pinkspire'
  • 'Rosea'
  • 'Ruby Spice'
  • 'September Beauty'
  • 'Sherry Sue'
  • 'Sixteen Candles'
  • 'White Doves'
Tags:
#bees#native#hummingbirds#butterflies#showy flowers#deciduous#birds#pollinators#wildlife plant#white flower#fragrance#salt tolerant#playground#coastal#wet sites#pond margins#moist soil#highly beneficial coastal plants#salt spray tolerant#cpp#low flammability#fire resistant
Cultivars:
  • 'Crystalinia'
  • 'Hummingbird'
  • 'Paniculata'
  • 'Pinkspire'
  • 'Rosea'
  • 'Ruby Spice'
  • 'September Beauty'
  • 'Sherry Sue'
  • 'Sixteen Candles'
  • 'White Doves'
Tags:
#bees#native#hummingbirds#butterflies#showy flowers#deciduous#birds#pollinators#wildlife plant#white flower#fragrance#salt tolerant#playground#coastal#wet sites#pond margins#moist soil#highly beneficial coastal plants#salt spray tolerant#cpp#low flammability#fire resistant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Clethra
    Species:
    alnifolia
    Family:
    Clethraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern US
    Distribution:
    Maine to Florida
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Its fruit attracts birds. This plant is resistant to damage by deer.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Enhancement
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    fire in the landscape.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Brown capsules which persist through winter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Fragrant white flowers appear as dense, narrow, cylindric spikes, 2-6 inches long, which are often clustered together at branch ends. Blooms on new growth.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    glossy medium to dark green leaves (to 3-4” long) turn variable but generally attractive shades of yellow to golden brown in fall. The leaves are late to leaf out in spring.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Bark Description:
    Bark is grey and loosely striped
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Pond
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Salt
    Wet Soil