The summersweet shrub has long been one of my favorite shrubs and I’ve planted them in every garden I’ve had. This new variety from Proven Winners called ‘Vanilla Spice’ was planted in June 2010 in my gardens and I’ll be updating this note yearly as it grows into the flowering shrub I hope it becomes.
- Name: Clethra alnifolia (Latin) Summersweet Clethra, Sweet Pepperbush
- Variety: Vanilla Spice a marketing name, it is also found under the name Clethra alnifolia ‘Caleb’
- Sun: Sunshine to light shade
- Hardiness: USDA 4-9
- Soils: this plant prefers a moist acidic soil so peat moss and hoses become my best friends
- Height: 4-8 feet depending on location
- Width: 4-6 feet wide
- Rate of growth: slow to medium
- Flowering: fragrant, white, long-lasting in mid to late summer in zone 5 (earlier in warmer areas)
- Difficulty: The summersweet shrub is easy to grow and flowers nicely if you keep it well watered. This is particularly true in droughty seasons – otherwise you’ll see some leaf scorch (burning around the margins).
- Reason to grow this shrub – it’s easy to grow if you water, it flowers for a long time compared to other shrubs and it’s fragrant.
Proven Winners Clethra ‘Vanilla Spice’
Plant Review Notes
- Spring 2010 – planted in June. 5-inch pot, good condition from Garden Import in Canada
- Summer 2011 – my notes say it grew but not overly much or impressively.
- Spring 2012 Took off like a shot this spring, flowering (love the flowers/fragrance!) and is looking like a serious keeper.
Summer 2013 – this is a keeper – I’d recommend this plant.
Spring 2017: Update. I see no reason to change my mind about this plant. It’s a good one.