Clethra alnifolia

Summersweet clethra (Clethra alnifolia) is a fantastic shrub with exceptional all-season garden interest with its lustrous green leaves in the spring, spiky white or pink fragrant summer flowers, golden yellow autumn leaves, and interesting, delicate dried seed capsules in winter. It can be grown throughout Long Island. This native species, also called sweet pepperbush, flowers profusely for 4 to 6 weeks during July and August when few other plants are in bloom, and the flowers fill the garden with their spicy fragrance.

Summersweet clethra is a native, deciduous upright shrub that typically grows between 4 to 8 feet tall and slowly spreads by sending up new shoots from rhizomes to form a small thicket. The species or taller selections can be grown as low hedges or as back of the garden border plants.

A wide variety of butterflies and songbirds are attracted to Summersweet clethra for its nectar and seeds.  Native to the eastern United States it is ideal for a rain garden, pollinator garden, fragrance garden, privacy screen or shrub border. It also can be used for erosion control on slopes, or near a pond or downspout.

SPECS: Native Name: Algonquin; Genus: Clethra ; Species: Alnifolia; Plant Type: Shrub; Life Cycle: Perennial; Sun Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun; Soil Moisture: Medium Wet, Well Drained; Height: 4′ — 8′; Spread: 5′; Plant Spacing: 3′ — 5′; Bloom Time: July — August; Bloom Color: Pink, White; Advantages: Erosion control, Low maintenance, Privacy screen, Showy; USDA Zone: 4 — 9; Attracts: Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Songbirds; Tolerant: Flooding, Salt; Plant Community: Plant summer sweet clethra with other summer bloomers like plum-leaf azalea (Rhododendron prunifolium), Goldsturm black-eyed Susan (Rubeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm'), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and black bugbane (Actaea racemosa);