Summersweet ‘Ruby Spice’ – For Shade And Wet Soils

Clethra alnifolia

Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ is the darkest red of all of the Summersweet varieties. This lovely shrub produces sweetly fragrant rosy blooms in late summer. Then in autumn, the handsome green foliage ignites into flaming shades of yellow!

Seldom exceeding 4 to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, ‘Ruby Spice’ is pest and disease free. It grows best in moist, slightly acid sandy soil in sun to light shade, though as a hardy native shrub, it tolerates a range of conditions (including shade, acidic wet soil, and salt spray). The colour is best in sun. Summersweet is a sport of C. alnifolia ‘Pink Spires’. Its fragrant, bottlebrush flowers are a darker pink; they attract butterflies, bees, and other insects. This shrub is suitable for a bed or border, a woodland or shade garden, or a waterside planting and its yellow autumn colour extends the season of interest. An easy-to-grow, multiseason shrub you will really enjoy.


How To Grow

Set out shrubs 5 to 6 feet apart to allow for ultimate spread. A location in sun or light shade, where the soil is moisture retentive, enriched with organic matter and slightly acid is best. Perfect for seaside plantings.

If pruning is desired – to attain a hedge effect, for example – plants may be pruned in the early spring. Use a summer mulch to conserve moisture and deep watering during periods of drought

Plant Info

  • Noteworthy Characteristics
    Fully hardy – Plant can withstand temperatures down to -15°C (5°F), Fragrant flowers, Attracts butterflies, Tolerates full shade, The species is native to the eastern U.S.
  • Care
    Provide full sun to part shade and fertile, preferably acidic, medium to wet soil. Summersweet will tolerate clay soil and full shade.
  • Propagation
    Take greenwood cuttings in early summer.
  • Problems