‘Hummingbird’ Sweet pepperbush: Thriving Native for Maryland Piedmont

hummingbird sweet pepperbush

LGS Notes: Hummingbird sweet pepperbush is one of our favorite native shrubs for pollinators.  The flowers are filled with pollen that bees and butterflies love.  Sweet pepperbush is also very hardy and tolerates a variety of sun exposures, soil types, and thrives in rain gardens. It will tolerate shade but won’t flower as much. When this plant is in bloom in the nursery it’s always a delight to see it covered in pollinators of all type. It’s got a sweet fragrance so I like to plant it near decks, pools and other areas where you spend time outdoors in summer.

I like to plant clethra in combination with Mercury Rising tickseed, coastal leucothoe, dwarf gayfeather, prairie dropseed, purple coneflower, Black eyed susan and Joe pye weed to name a few. Give clethra lots of space in your garden if you go with the straight species. ‘Hummingbird’ is a more compact variety and ‘Einstein’ is even more compact but harder to find. ‘Ruby Spice’ has pinkish flowers and ‘Sixteen Candles’ is a medium height variety with white flowers.

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Latin Name: Clethra alnifolia
Common Name: sweet pepperbush  
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Clethraceae
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Heavy Shade, Erosion, Clay Soil, Wet Soil
Information from Missouri Botanical
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