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Clethra alnifolia 'Hummingbird'

Hummingbird Summer Sweet

A beautiful, versatile, compact shrub, with three-season interest. Glossy, dark green foliage is not bothered by pests or disease. In late summer it is covered with 6-7” creamy white flowers with a deliciously, spicy scent. The flowers bloom for many weeks attracting butterflies, hummingbirds and native bees. The seed that follows is relished by songbirds and other wildlife. In autumn the foliage turns a lovely shade of yellow. It grows best in moist, slightly acid, sandy soil in sun to light shade, though it tolerates a range of conditions. Selected by Mr. Fred Galle formerly of Callaway Gardens in Georgia. Winner of the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society Gold Medal Award and the prestigious Georgia Gold Medal Award.


 


 

Benefits

  • Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy the nectar
  • Many birds and mammals eat the fruit
  • Produces loads of fragrant, creamy white blooms in late summer
  • Bright, golden yellow fall color
  • Tolerates shade, acidic wet soil, and salt spray
  • Easy to grow, deer resistant

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
3 ft

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Spread
3 ft

USDA Hardiness Zone 4-9

Native Range

Found in swamps, sea shores, stream banks and hillside bogs.

Native Trivia

Frogs are known as indicator species because they give scientists valuable insight into how an ecosystem is functioning. Plants that grow in moist conditions like this summer sweet provide great cover for frogs. Creating a pond or other water feature in your garden will help to attract them. 

Good Companions
Orange Coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Bugbane (Cimicifuga racemosa)

Characteristics & Attributes

Sun
Beneficial insects
Butterflies
Songbirds
Deer Resistant
Wet Sun
Ground cover
Plan Sub Group
Medium to Tall Shrubs
Small Shrubs
Exposure
Filtered Shade
Morning Sun / Afternoon Shade
Soil
Acidic
Humus-rich
Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
Average
Moist
Moist but well-drained
Wet
Attracts Wildlife
Amphibians
Hummingbirds
Mammals
Reptiles
Bloom Time
Late Summer
Habitat Collection
Butterfly
Songbird
Native Habitat
Coastal
Riparian, wetland
Foliage Color
Dark Green
Green
Uses
Bog, water garden
Border
Erosion control
Fragrant
Mass plant
Naturalizes
Salt tolerant
Specimen
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