Native Plants Recomendations: Summersweet


Native to Eastern PA along with most eastern and southern coastal states, Summersweet or Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) is a scented, summer-blooming shrub. It has an upright growth habit, reaching up to 6' tall, depending on the cultivar. The long racimes of white to pink flowers provide interest when most blooming shrubs are done. This plant would make an excellent replacement for the invasive butterfly bush, and even attracts hummingbirds. As a bonus, the folliage turns a bright yellow in fall.


Summersweet grows best in moist, acidic soils, but will tolerate some clay. It grows well in part shade or sun. Avoid planting in hot, dry conditions - a place near a downspout or low point in your landscape would be best. It's rhizomatic roots make it possible to divide and transplant in the fall.


It is said that this plant was once known as "sailor's delight" - when the winds were right, sailors could smell the shrub's flowers before they saw land.


The cultivar pictured is 'Ruby Spice.'


Sources: Native Plant Trust, "Primary Trees and Shrubs of the Eastern US," Dove & Woolridge"


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