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Clethra alnifolia

Summer Sweet Bush / Sweet Pepper Bush

Summer Sweet is a vase-shaped shrub with bottle brush-like, 3-6" spikes of extremely fragrant, white blossoms. The flowers are an important nectar source for butterflies and hummingbirds. Brown capsules form later to feed the birds and other wildlife. Summer Sweet is unique in that will flower in shade. It has good fall color and a tidy winter appearance. It’s a good shrub for wet areas like rain gardens, or the waters edge. 

Benefits

Snow white summer flowers are very fragrant
Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy the nectar
Many birds and mammals eat the fruit or seeds
Flowers bloom for 4-6 weeks in mid to late summer
Grows well in wet soil, will naturalize over time
Shrubby stems provide cover and nesting for wildlife
Will bloom in shade

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

Easy to grow in medium to wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Will grow in heavier shade but not as vigorously. Prefers part shade and consistently moist to wet, acidic soils but adapts to a wide range of soil, moisture and light conditions. Spreads slowly by rhizomes.


Height
5-7 Feet

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Spread
6-8 Feet

USDA Hardiness Zone 3-9

Native Range

Swamps and moist woods within 100 miles of the Atlantic coast, from southern Maine to northern Florida and along the Gulf to east Texas.

Native Trivia

Vernal pools are small temporary pools of water that form from rainwater or snowmelts in the spring, and dry up during the summer. These are important shelters and breeding habitats for frogs, toads and salamanders.


"Butterflies and hummingbirds love the nectar and my bird and mammal friends love the seeds while I enjoy the cover."

Good Companions
Yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima)

Characteristics & Attributes

Plan Sub Group
Medium to Tall Shrubs
Exposure
Filtered Shade
Morning Sun / Afternoon Shade
Sun
Soil
Acidic
Well-drained
Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
Average
Moist
Moist but well-drained
Wet
Attracts Wildlife
Beneficial insects
Butterflies
Hummingbirds
Reptiles
Songbirds
Bloom Time
Summer
Habitat Collection
Butterfly
Songbird
Wet Sun
Native Habitat
Coastal
Forest
Riparian, wetland
Foliage Color
Dark Green
Uses
Bog, water garden
Erosion control
Fragrant
Ground cover
Hedge, screen
Mass plant
Naturalizes
Native to
Alabama
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Mississippi
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas
Virginia