Gardening Tips & Tricks, Summer Flowers

How to Care for Clethra Alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ Summersweet

Ruby Spice or on the Latin name Clethra Alnifolia is a plant that stands out in any garden in the summer.

It is perfect for small, limited spaces being adapted to UDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. Is likes wet and poorly drained soil and can occupy spaces near pools or water features in gardens.

Rubi Spice Summersweet Characteristics

The plant grows to about 6 long tall by 5 feet wide at maturity. It has a round shape that is densely branched.

It blossoms in late June to late August. The flowers are pink and have a bottlebrush shape The blooms attract a myriad of butterflies and bees making it perfect for insect spotting. The fragrance is sweet and it will provide many joyful days for your family. In fall the leaves turn a nice yellow and Clethra Alnifolia will continue to look great even late in October.

Rubi Spice Summersweet in Autumn
Rubi Spice Summersweet in Autumn

It is very adaptable when it comes to sun. It can grow perfectly in full sun or partial shade. There are people that were able to grow it successfully even in deep shade. It prefers a soil with a PH level around 5 to 7. The acidity of the soil can be increased with the addition of sulfur. When planting, it is best to mulch all the cuttings in wood chips. This will help the new roots to keep their humidity. Although it is a water loving plant, it will tolerate occasional drought.

It is native to Eastern United States and like other sumersweet shrubs will sucker. This makes it very easy to multiply for beginner gardeners by using cuttings.

From a landscaping point of view, it is best to remove all root suckers in order to keep a nice and look.

Another common variety is Clethra Alnifolia “Hummingbird” which is very similar in aspect, but it has snow white flowers and a strong scent. Many gardeners prefer to mix the two varieties in order to obtain a color effect of pink and white.

‘Ruby Spice’ Summersweet Diseases and Pest

The shrub is very resistant and has no disease problems. Insects may find it a good hiding place or nest. Spider mites can become a pest in dry conditions, but if the plant is cared properly they should not appear.

These mites can cause foliar damage and the best way to prevent their attack is to periodically rinse the leaves of the plant. With a garden hose you can shower the plant in order to clear dust from the leaves.

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