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March 2010
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Clethra : Ruby Spice, how to grow and sow the plant.

It is often hard to find shrubs that flower in the summer—and even better yet, shrubs that flower well in the shade—but summersweet clethra (Clethra alnifolia) fits the bill for both. Clethra is native along the coast from Maine to Florida and around the peninsula to Texas.

Characteristics of Clethra : Ruby Spice

– Flowers actually come in two flavors: white and pink. ‘Ruby Spice’ is one of the best pink-flowered cultivars for Arkansas.
– Ruby Spice has bottlebrushlike clusters of tiny, fragrant, bell-shaped, reddish-pink flowers that appear in late summer.
– This shade-loving native shrub a favorite of bees and butterflies.
– It is a wonderful addition to the border or woodland edge.
– Ruby Spice Summersweet features beautiful spikes of fragrant ruby red flowers rising above the foliage from mid to late summer, which are most effective when planted in groupings.
– Ruby Spice Summersweet is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub with a shapely oval form.
– Ruby Spice Summersweet will grow to be about 5 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 5 feet.
– It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 30 years.
– Plants are typically not dense, and they have a distinctive soft texture due to the fine twigs and leaves.
– Clethra does not appear to be susceptible to any serious disease or insect problem. Plants can be pruned in early spring, since flowers are born on new growth.
– On cool nights when the windows are open. The scent from the ruby spice fills the room.

How to sow/plant Clethra : Ruby Spice

– Purchase ruby spice in early spring. The ruby spice summersweet grows in zone 3-9.
– Plant your shrub in moist, slightly acidic sandy soil.
– This shrub grows best in an area that has sun and partial shade.
– Dig a hole the same depth of the nursery container. Allow two feet in width. Loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole. Mix organic compost or manure with the soil.
– Place the root ball in the middle of the hole.
– Apply three inches of mulch around the shrub. The mulch will help retain moisture and will prevent weed build up.
– Maintain uniform soil moisture the first season.
– Each spring before growth begins, apply an all-purpose fertilizer, following label directions.


– Grows to about 6 feet
– Flowers: Rosy Pink flowers in Summer
– Fall color: Yellow
– Light requirements: Some shade or full sun
– Cold hardy to zone 3 (zones 3-9)
– Easy to grow, Summersweet
– Latin name: Clethra Alnifolia Ruby Spice

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