Clethra alnifolia 'Summer Sparkler' (Dwarf Summersweet)
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Clethra alnifolia 'Summer Sparkler', is a coastal wetland shrub native to the eastern United States commonly referred to as 'Summer Sparkler' summersweet or sweet pepperbush. As for most summersweet, the real draw for 'Summer Sparkler' is the flowers, and this cultivar does not disappoint, with a profusion of fragrant white flower spikes that occasionally reach over a foot in length. Flowers bloom through the summer months and are attractive to pollinators of all kinds, but especially butterflies and hummingbirds.
While this cultivar draws is name from the similarity of its flower spikes to sparkler fireworks, one other common name is 'Einstein summersweet,' and it's easy to see the resemblance there as well.
'Summer Sparkler' summersweet is a standard sized Clethra variety, and grows to three to eight feet tall with a spread of four to six feet wide. Since most 'Pink Spires' are multi-stemmed, it is important to choose a large enough planting location, but 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.