Friday, August 29, 2008

Plants for Delaware Landscapes - Summersweet Clethra

Summersweet Clethra is a native shrub well adapted for Delaware landscapes. The following is more information.

Clethra alnifolia, summersweet clethra, is a native shrub that grows 3 to 8 feet tall depending on the varieties and the soil moisture. As a native, this shrub lives on the edges of the woods near streams and other wet areas. It can remain a single shrub or it can sucker and become an island of shrubs. The fragrant flowers in pure white, pale pink to bright pink are the biggest draw, but the rich green foliage that turns golden yellow in the fall is also an important element in design. Color, texture and fragrance aside, the summersweet clethra is very pest and disease free. In the modern landscape, the summersweet clethra is great in a shrub border in the sun and shade. It still prefers moist soil conditions, so an irrigation system or soaker hoses in the shrub border would be important to the health of the plants, especially for the plants in the sun. The smallest cultivar is ‘Hummingbird’, growing only 3 feet tall and forming colonies of plants. The flowers are pure white and very fragrant. The leaves a dark rich green that turn to gold in the fall. Other excellent white flowering fragrant cultivars include ‘September Beauty’, ‘Paniculata’, and ‘Chattanooga’. The lightest pink is ‘Fern Valley Pink’, the brightest pink is ‘Ruby Spice’, and ‘Hokie Pink’ is a medium pink.

Information from Ginny Rosenkranz, Extension Educator, Wicomico/Worcester/Somerset Counties, University of Maryland, in the August 10, 2007 edition of the TPM/IPM Weekly Report for Arborists, Landscape Managers & Nursery Managers, University of Maryland Cooperative Extension.

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