Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Sweet Pepperbush
Give a thumbs up Summersweet
Give a thumbs up Clethra
Give a thumbs up Sweet Pepper Bush
Give a thumbs up Coastal Sweet Pepperbush
Give a thumbs up Summer Sweet

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Shrub
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
Partial Shade to Full Shade
Water Preferences: Wet
Wet Mesic
Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Very strongly acid (4.5 – 5.0)
Strongly acid (5.1 – 5.5)
Moderately acid (5.6 – 6.0)
Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 4a -34.4 °C (-30 °F) to -31.7 °C (-25 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 9b
Plant Height: usually 5 to 8 feet, to 20 feet in the wild
Plant Spread: 4 to 6 feet, to 15 feet in the wild
Leaves: Good fall color
Deciduous
Fruit: Other: the brown globular capsules in spikes are interesting
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Fall
Late fall or early winter
Flowers: Showy
Fragrant
Blooms on new wood
Flower Color: White
Other: Pale pink
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Summer
Suitable Locations: Bog gardening
Uses: Windbreak or Hedge
Provides winter interest
Erosion control
Will Naturalize
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Birds
Butterflies
Hummingbirds
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Rabbit Resistant
Flood Resistant
Humidity tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Sow in situ
Other info: seed can be sown when ripe
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Stem
Division
Stolons and runners
Pollinators: Moths and Butterflies
Bumblebees
Bees
Containers: Needs excellent drainage in pots
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil
Monoecious
Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation status:
Conservation status: Least Concern
Used by permission under CC license.  Photo taken by: KENPEI

The Top 25 Water Garden Plants, Selected by ATP MembersThe Top 25 Water Garden Plants, Selected by ATP Members
March 15, 2014

Here's a report of the most popular water garden plants from our database!

(Full article14 comments)
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Photo gallery:
Location: along Oswego River in south New Jersey near ChathamDate: 2013-08-10a mass of wild shrubs
By ILPARW
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Location: Thorndale, PennsylvaniaDate: 2012-02-09shrubs in a line in winter
By ILPARW
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Location: Downingtown, PennsylvaniaDate: 2010-12-28the brown capsules in winter
By ILPARW
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Location: Downingtown, PennsylvaniaDate: 2010-07-14the flower clusters and summer foliage
By ILPARW
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Location: Newtown Square, PennsylvaniaDate: 2011-07-19flower spikes and foliage
By ILPARW
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Location: Newtown Square, PennsylvaniaDate: 2011-07-19looking along side of row of plants in bloom
By ILPARW
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Location: Downingtown, PennsylvaniaDate: 2010-12-28brown capsules in spikes in winter
By ILPARW
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Location: along Oswego River in south New Jersey near ChathamDate: 2013-08-10full-grown, wild shrubs
By ILPARW
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Location: Downingtown, PennsylvaniaDate: 2010-07-14full-grown shrub for a landscape in bloom
By ILPARW
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Location: West Chester, PennsylvaniaDate: 2010-07-12a landscape specimen in bloom
By ILPARW
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Location: Downingtown, PennsylvaniaDate: 2010-10-27planted specimen in autumn color
By ILPARW
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Location: Hibernia County Park in southeast PennsylvaniaDate: 2017-11-10full-grown shrub in fall color
By ILPARW
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Location: Downingtown, PennsylvaniaDate: 2010-10-28larger view of shrub in naturalistic landscape
By ILPARW
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Location: Downingtown, PennsylvaniaDate: 2010-10-25foliage in fall color
By ILPARW
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Location: Newtown Square, PennsylvaniaDate: 2011-07-19row of plants along a home in bloom
By ILPARW
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Location: Downingtown, PennsylvaniaDate: 2010-12-28shrub in winter in middle of photo
By ILPARW
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Comments:
Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Nov 30, 2017 4:44 PM

The Pepperbush Summersweet is a wonderful native plant that is clean and nice to touch. It is sort of upright bushy in landscapes growing about 6 to 8 feet high. In nature it can get much bigger to over 15 feet high. The white pyramidal clusters of flowers are very fragrant and bloom in July and August about 4 weeks long. It has handsome foliage that turns a good yellow to orange in autumn. Its native range is from southern Maine down to northern Florida right along the coastal plain and then to east Texas along the Gulf plain. It loves draining wet acid, sandy soil in nature and is found in bogs, swamps, along watercourses and ponds, and bottomlands. However, it grows well in silty-clay loam soils that are slightly alkaline in the Midwest in landscapes. I've seen it growing wild in southern New Jersey and Delaware a lot. This species is available at lots of nurseries and garden centers either as the larger mother species with white flowers or as a few dwarf or pink-flowering cultivars.

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Posted by Mindy03 (Delta KY) on Jan 14, 2013 5:36 PM

Honey bees get nectar from this plant which produces a white honey.

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Posted by mellielong (Lutz, Florida - Zone 9b) on Apr 17, 2015 9:13 PM

The book, "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana also gives the common name of White Alder to this plant. The author says the genus name of Clethra is the ancient Greek name for alder, which this plant somewhat resembles in foliage. The author also speaks poetically of the fragrance of this plant and appreciates that it blooms in August when many flowers are showing "the effects of the long days of heat and drought." She also notes that it grows in "the cool thickets which line the lanes along the New England coast."

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Plant Events from our members
MunchkinsMom On June 5, 2016 Miscellaneous Event
Don't recall how tall he was when I transplanted him, but he lived through the "flood" and is about 12" tall now and looking very healthy.
MunchkinsMom On April 4, 2016 Transplanted
Bog area behind rock
MunchkinsMom On November 12, 2015 Obtained plant
Dagwood eBay dormant, 2 1/2" pot, Lost Tag
» Post your own event for this plant

Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Planning to start a new Pollinator garden this year? by frostweed Feb 10, 2019 1:03 PM 16
Is this a type of Jasmine? by BonsaiZen Sep 5, 2018 5:16 AM 3
What Type of Plant Is This by PeteMoss Jun 25, 2018 6:20 PM 1
Floral Alphabet Soup; the Letter C! by KatEnns Dec 31, 2017 10:11 PM 53
What kind of leaf is this? by ticklesmepink Oct 23, 2016 2:16 PM 5
Propagating clethra alnifolia by abhege Apr 23, 2013 12:50 PM 2
Salt tolerant plants by eclayne Feb 8, 2013 9:39 PM 130
Need a shrub recommendation please! by stormyla Apr 14, 2011 9:15 AM 10

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