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Clethra alnifolia

Pronunciation: Kleth-rah all-nih-foe-lee-ah
Family: Clethraceae (sweet pepperbush family
Common Name: Sweet pepperbush, summersweet
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
Height to: 4-8'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • -20 to -30ºF ZONE 4
  • -10 to -20ºF ZONE 5
  • 0 to -10ºF ZONE 6
  • 10 to 0ºF ZONE 7
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
Sun Exposure:
  • full shade
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Description: Blooms in summer with showy upright clusters of little white flowers. The flowers have five petals and are about a third of an inch across, borne in dense racemes at the ends of the twigs. They have a wonderful sweet, spicy, slightly pungent fragrance. The leaves are alternate, 2-3 in (5-7. 6 cm) long and serrated towards their tips. They turn golden yellow in fall.
Plant Perks:
  • Fragrant
  • Fall Foliage
  • Easy to Grow/Ideal for Children
  • Attracts Butterflies
Propagation: You can start new pepperbushes easily from soft stem cuttings taken in summer. You also can divide the root mass or grow from seeds which germinate readily.
Native to: Sweet pepperbush grows naturally in wet forests, pine flatwoods, swamps, bogs, and along woodland streams from maine, south to northern florida and west to eastern texas.
Notes for Identification: Source: floridata - sweet pepperbush is an outstanding shrub for a naturalized garden. It will gradually spread by sending up new shoots, forming a thicket of low bushes. Allow pepperbush to naturalize along a stream or pond where its suckering will help control erosion. Its fragrant snowy white flowers attract bees and butterflies, and the flowers last for 6 weeks or more in the heat of summer when most flowering shrubs are taking a break. Use sweet pepperbush in a mixed shrub hedge or border. Pepperbush can be pruned to maintain a small size, or allowed to grow naturally - it will probably never exceed 6 ft (1. 8 m) in height anyway. Sweet pepperbush has a wonderful fragrance, showy flowers, attracts butterflies, grows in the shade, blooms in mid summer, has nice fall color, stays small - in short, sweet pepperbush is one of the finest deciduous shrubs in cultivation. Care: sweet pepperbush likes an acidic soil, so never add lime. Cultivate as you would an azalea or blueberry bush. Sweet pepperbush is moderately salt tolerant, and can be grown near (but not directly behind) the beach. Pepperbush will grow in full sun or in the shade. It probably does best in a light, dappled shade. Sweet pepperbush grows naturally in poorly drained, moist soils, but once established in cultivation, it thrives on drier, well drained soils as well. It will get larger and produce more suckers if provided plenty of water.
Seed photo: 1
Located in: Seed Photos
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