Place aromatic crops near a walkway or patio, and you instantly add a whole new dimension, which makes functional spaces feel more enticing with odor. You’ll want to linger longer outside if you have got coastal sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) perfuming the air, and its bright yellow colour is especially appealing in the end of the climbing season.
Botanical name: Clethra alnifolia
Common names: Coastal sweet pepperbush, summersweet, sweet pepperbush
Resource: Native to the eastern United States
Where it can grow: Hardy to -30 degrees Fahrenheit (USDA zones 4 to 9; locate your zone); prefers moist places, edges of woods and meadows
Water necessity: Moist to wet conditions
moderate requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: Up to 8 feet tall and broad
Benefits and tolerances: Widely adaptable to various soil types, including wet soils; disease and pest resistant
Seasonal interest: Summer blossoms from June to July; outstanding yellow autumn color
When to plant: Spring to fall
Distinguishing attributes. Shrubs produce a spike (racime) with numerous florets that open from the bottom up; after the blossoms fade that the seeds persist and resemble pepper, as the frequent name suggests. The seeds remain on the stems and are very showy in winter, especially with a light dusting of snow.
The crops sucker and develop wider than tall with adulthood; they make good hedges and privacy screens.
Pink flowering ‘Ruby Spice’ (zones 4 to 8) was given a gold medal from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 1998. It is a big plant, growing up to 10 feet tall with a wide spread, and can take sun or shade.
Other popular cultivars include ‘Compacta’ and ‘Hummingbird’.
The best way to utilize it. Clethra creates an excellent specimen for swales and rain gardens, as the species occurs naturally in neighboring places, wetlands and bogs through the eastern U.S. It is also deer resistant.
Its alluring fragrance can be especially appreciated near a walkway or seating area, but be aware that bees adore the nectar.
It is among the last shrubs to leaf out in late spring, but it retains its leaves very late in the autumn, so keep this in mind when planning to add it to mixed beds and borders.
Planting notes. With its stoloniferous habit, summersweet, as it is also called, can take up a large area over time. Plant it in an area with adequate moisture in sun or shade, and permit space for it to spread. Suckers can be cut and replanted to form new shrubs.
Combine it with willow bluestar (Amsonia spp) and oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia, sets 5 to 9)to get a knockout combination of colours in the autumn landscape.
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