Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice' grown in a 3-gallon pot.
Fall color of Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice'.

Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice' (Pink Summersweet) Unity Grown

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'Ruby Spice', is a cultivar of Clethra alnifolia, also called summersweet or sweet pepperbush, a coastal wetland shrub native to the eastern United States. As for most summersweet, the real draw for 'Ruby Spice' is the flowers, and this cultivar produces a profusion of fragrant rose-pink flower spikes that bloom from mid to late summer; while both 'Pink Spire' and 'Ruby Spice' are pink cultivars, 'Ruby Spice' produces darker and more consistently pink blooms over the white and shell-pink blooms of 'Pink Spire.'

No matter the exact color, however, fragrant summersweet flowers bloom through the summer, and are attractive to pollinators of all kinds, but especially butterflies and hummingbirds. With the attractive pink shade of these blooms, and the deep green foliage which turns gold in the fall, this cultivar definitely has more multi-season interest than the pure white varities.

'Ruby Spice' summersweet is a standard sized Clethra variety, although it typically grows smaller than some standard cultivars like 'Pink Spire', and grows to four to six feet tall with a spread of three to five feet wide. With a more moderate size than 'Pink Spire,' this cultivar displays beautifully when planted in mass, when mixed into perennial borders, or when used in rain gardens or wetland restoration projects. Naturally found in coastal wetland areas or floodplains, Clethra alnifolia grows best in wetter areas with acidic, sandy soils and full sun exposure, but is not at all picky, and will tolerate drier soils as well as perpetually wet clay soils, and even those with some salt content.

Native to Eastern Shore, Native to Maryland, and Native to U.S.
Mature Plant Height: Tall: 49-72"
Sun (6+ hours) and Part Shade/Sun (4-6 hours of sun)
Soil Moisture: Medium to Wet
Soil Type: Acidic and Sand
Bloom Time: Summer
Flower Color: Pink
Foliage color: Green
Features: Attracts Butterflies, Attracts Pollinators, Attracts Hummingbirds, Host Plant for Butterflies or Moths, Fragrant, Fall Color, and Erosion Control
Tolerances: Deer Tolerant, Shade Tolerant, Flood Tolerant, Wet Soil Tolerant, Clay Soil Tolerant, and Salt Tolerant
Garden Type: Pollinator Garden, Woodland Garden, Wetland Restoration, Border/Screen, and Rain Garden

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