Clethra alnifolia Vanilla Spice
Clethra 'Vanilla Spice' Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

Summersweet, Pepperbush

Clethra 'Vanilla Spice' is a selection of a native North American shrub that is noted for its sweetly fragrant flowers. The flowers of 'Vanilla Spice' are twice the size of typical Clethra blooms. The flower heads give way to dark brown seed capsules containing seeds that resemble Peppercorns, hence the name Sweet Pepperbush. This standout plant has attractive, glossy dark green leaves which turn yellow in the fall. The plant habit is densely branched and rounded. It is unique among flowering shrub because it will grow in more shaded locations. It is a lovely specimen plant but can also be planted in woodland gardens, at stream side, and used for naturalizing in cottage and wildflower gardens.

  • Height: 91 - 183 cm - (36-72 in)
  • Spread: 91 - 152 cm - (36-60 in)
  • Hardiness: Zone 4
  • Sun or Shade: partial shade to sun
  • Bloom Time: summer
  • Leaf Colour: dark green
  • Bloom Colour: white
  • Critter Resistance: deer
  • Nature Attraction: butterflies, hummingbirds and bees

Growing and Maintenance Tips

Clethra 'Vanilla Spice' is an easy plant to grow if you provide it with the conditions that it likes. It prefers moist soil that is on the acidic side so add peat moss when planting. Keep it evenly moist during dry periods to prevent leaf scorch. It blooms on new wood so prune after flowering. It is actually more a part shade plant so avoid planting where it will be exposed to hot sun and dry soil. Unless you want it to naturalize remove any suckers that form at the base of the plant. Any pruning should be done in early spring.