Type of Plant: A shrub that’s native to the northeast, also known as sweet pepperbush. Hardy in Zones 3-8, and happy to grow in sun or shade as long as it’s kept watered. Prefers moist soils but will thrive in native, shady areas or common garden conditions, but not extremely dry soils.
Why I Love/Hate this plant: I love this plant for so many reasons. First of all, for the summer fragrance of the flowers. In July and August the sweet, but not overpowering, scent of Clethra will perfume your landscape. I love the fact that this is a pollinator support plant. And I love the fall color on these shrubs. Finally, I’m pleased that there are many cultivars to enjoy, from the shorter growing Hummingbird to the later-flowering September Beauty.
A Word to the Wise: Clethra shrubs usually sucker to the sides. If you’re the type of gardener who wants a shrub to stay “within bounds” don’t plant this fantastic plant. If you’re a home landscaper who doesn’t want to accept, or occasionally cut back, the stems that spread two feet to the sides of the original shrub, don’t plant Clethra. It’s your loss, but à chacun ses goûts, right ?