Bring the Outdoors Home

Summersweet ‘Ruby Spice’ & ‘Hummingbird’ | Plant Profile

Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) are fragrant showy wetland shrubs native to coastal areas. The foliage is densely packed to form a round bush. In late summer the fragrant flowers will bloom upright flowers that grow on panicles. The glossy leaves become dark green with maturity and the stems are woody. There are multiple varieties of Summersweet.

Summersweet are native to marshland so are tolerant of wet soils, but will not tolerate drought. They are best grown in full sun to part shade, but some shade is preferred. The soil should not be let to dry out. Summersweet can grow in average fertility or clay soils.

Summersweet bloom in shady areas in late summer, so they can bring some color when most flowers have already been spent. They can be planted in groups, naturalized areas, as a hedge, or along banks and ponds. Their moisture tolerance makes them perfect for wet spots or low spots in gardens.


Summersweet 'Ruby Spice' & 'Hummingbird' Characteristics

Summersweet are a popular shrub near patios and outdoor seating because of their late blooms and fragrant flowers. They typically grow from 3 - 6' so are ideal for smaller yards. They spread by basal sprouts which should be removed unless located in a woodland or naturalized area as these can make the plant look untidy. If propagation is desired, cutting are a better option.

Summersweet are low maintenance shrubs that are easy to care for once established. Soils should not be let to dry out and some pruning may be desired in late winter. There are few if any serious diseases that plague Summersweet, however, spider mites may appear if conditions are too dry.

There are a few varieties of Summersweet, each with different color blooms. 'Ruby Spice' (pictured) have blush pink flowers and dark shiny serrated leaves. 'Hummingbird' have tall white blooms, but the overall size of this cultivar are smaller and more compact than 'Ruby Spice'

The fragrant flowers are highly attractive to butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. This makes them perfect for pollinator gardens and very picturesque around stream banks and ponds.

USDA Climate Zone
Zones 4 - 8
4.00 - 6.00'
3.00 - 5.00'
Bloom Time
July - August
Medium - Wet
Full Sun - Part Shade
Deer Resistant?