13 August 2012

Summersweet or Clethra Vanilla Spice is Clethra alnifolia - new improved varieties still bloomsin the shade

Proven Winners offers several Summersweet varieties and each one is more appealing than the other.

They are varieties of an American native plant, deer resistant shrubs, loved by butterflies and hummingbirds!

No serious insect or disease problems. Prefer consistently moist soil that is not allowed to dry out. Enjoys up to full shade and will bloom there.

Clethras can be massed around your house foundation where you can enjoy their summertime flowers and sweet scent. They enjoy moist feet so water gardens, stream banks and generally damp places in your yard are a good location.

Let them naturalize in a cottage garden where they can spread out. If you've heard about the native Clethra's legginess and tendency to sucker with age, Ohio State University's Horticulture Department points out that these hybrids have revolutionized Clethras and designed ideal garden plants that remain dense and compact. Read their entire assessment here.

Here's the rundown on their various attributes -

Sugartina Crystalina is a dwarf with white flowers in late summer. In the fall, the leaves are yellow. Developed in North Carolina, it is a great choice for our same zone 7 gardens.
Cold hardy to zone 4 and thrives up to heat zone 9.


Proven Winners - Vanilla Spice
Vanilla Spice has extra large flowers. on 3 to 4 foot tall shrubs that
spread 3 or 4 feet wide.

They bloom on new wood in the summer, so they are pruned late-winter.

Plant in moist, but not wet, soil in part-shade to sun. (Anything that grows in zone 4 full sun will become crispy in NE OK full sun so give it some afternnon protection here.)


Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice' was chosen as a Plant of Merit by Missouri Botanical Garden and given 5 stars by its readers, professional landscapers, who also call it Sweet pepper Bush.

They recommend Clethra because it can be made into a flowering hedge that will grow in clay, wet soil, or dense shade. Also used as erosion control, in rain gardens and will naturalize. Read: low maintenance.

MOBOT says, ‘Ruby Spice’ is a summersweet cultivar that is most noted for its fragrant rose-pink flowers that bloom in late summer. It was discovered in 1992 as a sport of C. alnifolia ‘Pink Spire’. It is a densely-branched, rounded, suckering, deciduous shrub that typically grows 4-6’ (less frequently to 8’) tall and features narrow, cylindrical, bottlebrush-like, terminal panicles (racemes to 6” long) of extremely fragrant rose pink flowers that bloom on the current year’s growth for approximately 4-6 weeks in July and August. Serrate, obovate, dark green leaves (to 4” long) turn a variable but generally attractive yellow/golden brown in fall. Flowers give way to dark brown seed capsules that may persist well into winter. Flowers are very attractive to butterflies and bees. Summersweets are somewhat unique among late summer-flowering shrubs because of their ability to bloom in shady locations.

I have just the spot for some of these new beauties!










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