Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice' Summersweet

cadillactasteApril 29, 2014

I also stumbled upon this one...that I find attractive. Any problems with this shrub I need to know about before I contact my local nursery?

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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Clethra seems to be one of the acid loving plants that I absolutely cannot grow. I have tried it in multiple combinations of sun/shade and dry/wet and it just dies. If you don't consider azaleas and blueberries easy care weeds, this one is in the same category.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 7:14AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

It depends some on where you want to put it. Clethra has lots of good qualities, such as the late summer flowers (though IME with 'Ruby Spice' they won't be as dense viewing head on as that side view photo makes them look - do a web search for other images) and the bright clear yellow autumn color. It may sucker some IME, though not all of mine have, and it seems happiest on my property in full sun and damp to wet soil (my soil is acid enough that it grows wild blueberries). It tends to leaf out later than many shrubs.

On the whole I think it works best either in a deep shrub border or in a wilder area; it doesn't strike me as a good foundation shrub. I haven't ever tried growing it in soil that isn't acid.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 8:00AM
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cadillactaste

Appreciate your input...I actually have a blueberry bush...so...this should be able to be grown here.

Placement...I am trying to figure out what location to put it. Behind our memorial bench,garden area we are establishing for where the families pets are buried. (Son asked for one) It is somewhat shaded...and I want to plant something to block behind the bench itself. I hate you can see behind it to the neighbors. Sounds like this could fill in and be allowed to grow at it's full potential.

I had also considered it in front of a small picket fence area on my bird feeding patio. That said...it would have to be kept pruned to 3-4 foot tall. Claims 3-6 foot tall when mature. So...if pruning in the spring...would this grow beyond the height I wish it to be in one season? Or would I also be safe to keep it there with pruning if it exceeded my desired height requirements?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 6:43AM
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dbarron(z7_Arkansas)

It's suppossed to be easy to grow from cuttings. The plant tends (for me at least) to be open, so when you prune you may wish to attempt to root at least some of the cuttings to bulk up the plant for privacy.
Mine has now been planted about 4 years and is at what I would say is max height (about 6 foot), and is getting a bit floppy, I haven't pruned it, but now wish I had and will commence this coming spring.
Fragrance wise, I LOVE this plant!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 8:42AM
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splitrock

I really love your amazing stone work. Did you do that yourself?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 10:41AM
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cadillactaste

I ended up not placing one where I had originally planned. But, behind the memorial bench area where our dog is buried. It's to get 5 foot high or so...so it will block the neighbor's view from our area...and allow that area to become more secluded and private. (Or I hope so) Though...the needing the wet soil concerns me. Not sure how wet it is, curious how often this will need watered to stay happy.

Splitrock,thank you... my husband and I for the most part. Though...his friend had a backhoe to move the larger rocks for the waterfall. The landscaping guy we got our stone for our hardscape from offered my husband a job after seeing our place done.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 4:20PM
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upandcoming(6b)

Hi. I have this shrub and LOVE it. Just want to let you know the bees LOVE it too! If you did put it behind a bench you will not be able to sit there while it is blooming! It will be swarming with bees if that's a problem for you. It is a good background for other shorter plants, as it is not very interesting when not in bloom. Fall color is early and nice! fragrance is lovely too. Mine is at least 6' tall and has suckered to 6' wide! I have a sprinkler (shrubber style) that got buried in there as it spread, so it has its own personal sprinkler head which obviously it loves. Maybe keep it on the drier side once established so it does not spread as much!
I understand it can be shaped in early spring as it blooms on new wood- you could keep it shorter. I also have not tried this yet and will this spring so I can know from my own experience!!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2014 at 4:41PM
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dbarron(z7_Arkansas)

I have no bees...so no problem. Sad that I don't...

    Bookmark   September 3, 2014 at 4:57PM
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