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Summer-sweet, White Alder, Sweet Pepper Bush, Spicebush, White-bush
Clethra alnifolia


A lover of moist, acid soils, summer-sweet grows in wet, shady areas in East Texas, east to Florida and along the coast to Maine. In late summer it has long, upright racemes of very fragrant white or pink flowers at the branch tips, borne on new growth. It is a rounded, somewhat straggly understory shrub that usually gets no taller than 10 feet. The deciduous, alternate leaves are a lustrous medium-dark green, 1 1/2 to 4 inches long and about half as wide. In fall they turn a yellow-golden brown. Summer-sweet can sucker to form colonies, and is a good choice for moist, shady areas and wetland reclamation projects. It is an excellent landscape shrub, with its summer flower and fragrance and handsome foliage, and is easy to grow as long as the soil and moisture conditions are met. It is remarkably disease- and pest-free, although spider mites can be a problem if it is planted in dry sites or during dry weather. Summer-sweet was introduced into cultivation in 1731, and many cultivars are available.

Plant Habit or Use: large shrub
small tree

Exposure: partial sun

Flower Color: white or pink

Blooming Period: summer

Fruit Characteristics: small, dehiscent capsule

Height: 6 to 10 feet

Width: 4 to 6 feet

Plant Character: deciduous

Heat Tolerance: medium

Water Requirements:

Soil Requirements: acid

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

Additional Comments:

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