Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Summersweet, Sweet Pepper Bush
Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice'

Family: Clethraceae
Genus: Clethra (KLEE-thra) (Info)
Species: alnifolia (al-nee-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Ruby Spice

9 vendors have this plant for sale.

28 members have or want this plant for trade.


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
By simple layering
By serpentine layering

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 13 photos.
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8 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive mastiffgirl On Jul 7, 2014, mastiffgirl from Pittsboro, NC wrote:

I saw these for the first time last year. I bought five from three different nurseries, all of which looked to be at death's door. They took forever to leaf out in the spring but when they did they were extremely strong and healthy, with lots of new growth, so they are certainly survivors. It's July 6 and they are getting ready to bloom.

Positive bobbieberecz On Jul 16, 2013, bobbieberecz from Concrete, WA wrote:

I planted my first pink spire 5 years ago. It got full hot sun for a few years while waiting for the shrub border to grow and produce some afternoon shade. Though I watered it carefully the first year or two it's dried out completely between waterings the past few years. My soil gets very wet with the winter rains in NW Washington state but like talcum powder in the summer. Though I've only started mulching, this plant has survived all my past abuses and rewarded me with wonderfully scented flowers each year. I do notice the scent is stronger when I'm careful about watering. Just planted my 2nd one (Ruby Spice) this year in mostly shade. So far it seems happy.

Positive StuKin On Jun 11, 2013, StuKin from Stamford, CT wrote:

Marvelous fragrance makes this plant a winner. Easily propagated from the side shoots that a mature plant sends up. Flowers best in sun or partial shade. Likes moist soil with the root area shaded to keep it cool.

Positive passiflora_pink On Aug 12, 2008, passiflora_pink from Shelby County, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Blooms mid summer, when spring flowers have faded. Attracts pollinators of all sorts. Sweet perfume is delightful from several feet away. New growth comes from roots so can be used on a bank to help with erosion.

Positive soulbloom On Aug 18, 2006, soulbloom from Richmond, VA wrote:

Neat bush with attractive fragrance. I have this planted in my backyard in partial shade. This is its first year and it had medium growth.

Positive alph On Aug 10, 2006, alph from Wrentham, MA wrote:

The last to put out its leaves in the Spring in my yard, it pays back the late foliage with beautiful unusually deep pink spires that fill the yard with a wonderful scent. This plant goes in all lighting conditions from full shade to full sun. Can also be grown at the seashore. Leaves are luscious deep green turning bright yellow in the fall. Branches have an interesting sinuous growth habit. A winner all-round.

Positive sterhill On May 26, 2005, sterhill from Atlanta, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Atlanta - I have had this plant in full sun - full, HOT, afternoon sun - for two or three years and it has done well here. I did not know it wanted to be moist and did not water it, as it exceeded the reach of my hose. It still did pretty well, but now that I have a new 100' hose and KNOW now it wants more water, it is looking much fuller and happier! Probably the blooms will last longer also.

Positive braun06 On May 11, 2005, braun06 from Peoria Heights, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have been quite pleased with this cultivar. Though late to leaf out it has beautiful dark blue green leaves. The plant starts flowering in early to mid july here in Illinois. It continually blooms for a month. The flowers may not be extremely fragrant at first but eventually develop a wonderful spicy sweet aroma that carries throughout the yard. These shrubs are also very useful for some excellent yellow fall color that is not too common in shrubs. I have planted this shrub in places that offer afternoon shade or full sun on other plaves on a steep slope. Have not noticed any leaf scorch or wilting and supplied limited irrigation during dry periods and probably wouldnt be necessary at all in my yard.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Easily grown in average, medium wet to wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Adaptive to wide range of soil, moisture and light conditions. Prefers part shade and consistently moist to wet, acidic soils. Tolerates full shade, however. Spreads slowly by rhizomes

Neutral Terry On Mar 9, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Fragrant deep pink flowers on glossy green foliage appear in late summer. Grows naturally in wet places; plant in moist acid soil amended with organic matter. Grows best in partial shade. A favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds. Introduced by Broken Arrow Nursery in CT.

Slow to medium growth rate. If necessary, prune in early spring.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Madison, Alabama
Pelham, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Anchorage, Alaska
Sherwood, Arkansas
Sacramento, California
Stamford, Connecticut
Westport, Connecticut
Ocean View, Delaware
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Bokeelia, Florida
Decatur, Georgia
Winterville, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Hanna City, Illinois
Iowa City, Iowa
Hancock, Maine
Beverly, Massachusetts
Mashpee, Massachusetts
Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Wrentham, Massachusetts
Blissfield, Michigan
East Tawas, Michigan
Saint Cloud, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Hudson, New Hampshire
Haddonfield, New Jersey
Averill Park, New York
Beacon, New York
East Setauket, New York
Elba, New York
Nineveh, New York
North Tonawanda, New York
Port Washington, New York
Poughkeepsie, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Pittsboro, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Akron, Ohio
Canton, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Fredericktown, Ohio
Bradford, Pennsylvania
Quakertown, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Wyoming, Pennsylvania
College Grove, Tennessee
Maryville, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Orlean, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Concrete, Washington
East Port Orchard, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Vancouver, Washington
Racine, Wisconsin

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