‘Ruby Spice’ Sweet pepperbush: Thriving Native for Maryland Piedmont

Ruby spice sweet pepperbush


LGS Notes: ‘Ruby Spice’ sweet pepperbush, also known as summersweet, is a more colorful version of the straight species and the ‘Hummingbird’ cultivar.  The clusters of flowers are pink, and still attractive to bees and butterflies.  It can also be used in rain gardens and native landscapes in a large range of sun exposure. This plant is pretty tough once established, though deer will munch it if they are hungry and it’s convenient. 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.  ‘Sixteen Candles’ is a medium height variety with white flowers. I like to combine Ruby Spice with Blue Marvel salvia, white or pink turtlehead, inkberry holly and coastal leucothoe (for evergreen).

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Latin Name: Clethra alnifolia
Common Name:  Ruby spice sweet pepperbush  
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Clethraceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Rose pink
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, bees
Tolerate: Heavy Shade, Erosion, Clay Soil, Wet Soil
Information from Missouri Botanical