Ruby Spice Summersweet

Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice'

Family: Summersweet

Type: Shrub

Other Common Name: Sweet Pepperbush

Ruby Spice Summersweet is a captivating addition to any garden. Its unique fragrance and vibrant pink blooms make it a standout. The plant thrives in wet, acidic soils, often flourishing in areas where other plants struggle.

Its long blooming period, from mid-summer to early fall, offers a continuous display of color. This attribute makes it highly valuable for gardeners seeking sustained visual interest. Moreover, it’s a magnet for pollinators, attracting bees and butterflies.

Ruby Spice Summersweet is low maintenance, requiring minimal care once established. It’s resistant to most pests and diseases, making it a reliable choice for both novice and experienced gardeners.

Needs & Preferences

Hardiness Zone: 3b-9a

Pet Friendly: Yes

Moisture Preference: Average to wet

Sun Needs: Full sun to partial shade


Growth Rate: Slow

Average Height (feet): 5

Average Spread (feet): 5

Average Life Span (years): 30

Form: Oval


Flower Color: Red

Bloom Season: From mid to late summer

Foliage Color: Green

Leaf Fall Color: Yellow

Foliage Shape: Round

Bark Color: Tan

Bark Texture: Smooth

Landscaping Your Yard With Ruby Spice Summersweet

Incorporating Ruby Spice Summersweet into your yard brings both beauty and versatility. It’s ideal for borders, wet areas, and as a natural hedge. The plant’s compact size allows for easy integration into various garden settings.

Its vibrant pink blossoms and lush green foliage create stunning contrasts. Pairing it with plants that have silver or dark leaves enhances its visual appeal. This combination can create a focal point in your garden.

Ruby Spice Summersweet works well in both sun and partial shade. Its adaptability to different light conditions makes it a flexible choice for various garden spots. The plant’s ability to thrive in wet conditions is perfect for rain gardens or damp areas.


Suitable Garden Styles

Cottage Garden

In a cottage garden setting, Ruby Spice Summersweet adds a charming, romantic touch. Its fragrant, pink flowers blend seamlessly with the informal, abundant style of cottage gardens. This plant pairs well with traditional cottage garden plants like roses and lavender, creating a whimsical, fragrant space.

Rain Garden

Ruby Spice Summersweet is an excellent choice for rain gardens. Its ability to thrive in moist conditions and its attractiveness to wildlife enhance the ecological value of rain gardens. It contributes to water management while adding aesthetic beauty with its summer blooms.

Woodland Garden

In a woodland garden, Ruby Spice Summersweet brings a splash of color and fragrance. It complements the natural, understated beauty of woodland settings. The plant's adaptability to shade and its tolerance for moist soils make it a natural fit for woodland gardens.

Ruby Spice Summersweet Landscaping Ideas

Ruby Spice Summersweet can be a focal point in a mixed border. Its striking pink flowers and lush foliage create a visual anchor. Surround it with complementary perennials for a balanced look.

Using Ruby Spice Summersweet in mass plantings creates a dramatic effect. Large groupings amplify its visual impact and fragrance. This approach is ideal for creating a natural hedge or a statement piece in your garden.

Pairing Ruby Spice Summersweet with ornamental grasses offers a stunning contrast. The softness of the grasses juxtaposes beautifully with the dense blooms of Summersweet. This combination adds texture and depth to your garden design.

Seasonal Interest


In spring, Ruby Spice Summersweet begins to awaken. Its foliage emerges, starting the seasonal cycle. The green leaves set the stage for the vibrant blooms to follow, hinting at the beauty that's to come.


Summer is the peak season for Ruby Spice Summersweet. Its pink flowers bloom profusely, filling the garden with fragrance and color. The plant becomes a lively hub for pollinators, adding movement and life to your garden.


During fall, Ruby Spice Summersweet transitions. The blooms may fade, but the plant remains visually appealing. Its foliage often takes on a yellow hue, adding autumnal charm to your garden landscape.


In winter, Ruby Spice Summersweet retreats. While it may lose its leaves, the structure remains, providing winter interest. The bare branches can be striking against snowy landscapes, maintaining a presence in your garden year-round.

Planting Tips

Where to Plant

Ruby Spice Summersweet thrives in wet, slightly acidic areas. It’s perfect for low-lying spots in your garden that retain moisture. Think about placing it near a water feature or in a rain garden for optimal growth.


This plant prefers full sun to partial shade. In full sun, it produces more blooms, while partial shade can help in hotter climates. Ensure it receives at least four hours of direct sunlight daily for best flowering.


Ruby Spice Summersweet loves moist, well-drained, acidic soil. It's adaptable but performs best in soil rich in organic matter. If your soil is alkaline, amend it with sulfur or peat moss to increase acidity.


When planting, space Ruby Spice Summersweet about 3 to 4 feet apart. This spacing allows each plant enough room to grow to its full size and encourages better air circulation, reducing the risk of disease.

When to Plant

The best time to plant Ruby Spice Summersweet is in the spring or early fall. Planting during these cooler seasons allows the roots to establish before the stress of summer heat or winter cold.

How to Plant

Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and as deep as the container. Place the plant in the hole, ensuring it’s at the same depth it was in the container. Backfill with soil, water thoroughly, and apply mulch to retain moisture.

Plant Care Tips


Regular watering is crucial, especially in dry conditions. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Reduce watering in the winter when the plant is dormant.


Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to fewer blooms and weaker growth.


Prune in late winter or early spring. Remove any dead or damaged branches and shape as desired. Ruby Spice Summersweet blooms on new wood, so pruning won’t affect flowering.

By Season


Spring Care

In spring, remove any winter mulch and check for winter damage. Apply fertilizer and prune if necessary. Water regularly to support new growth.

Summer Care

During summer, keep the soil moist. Mulch helps retain moisture and keeps roots cool. Watch for pests or diseases, though Ruby Spice Summersweet is generally resistant.

Fall Care

In fall, reduce watering as the plant prepares for dormancy. You can also add a layer of mulch to protect the roots from freezing temperatures.

Winter Care

In winter, ensure the plant is well-mulched. It requires little care during dormancy, but check for rodent damage or winter burn in colder areas.


How Tall Does Ruby Spice Summersweet Grow?

Ruby Spice Summersweet typically reaches 3 to 5 feet in height and width. Its compact size makes it ideal for smaller gardens or as a part of a mixed border.

Is Ruby Spice Summersweet Deer Resistant?

Yes, it’s generally deer resistant. While no plant is completely deer-proof, Ruby Spice Summersweet is not a preferred food source for deer.

Can Ruby Spice Summersweet Grow in Containers?

Absolutely, it can thrive in containers. Ensure the container is large enough to accommodate its growth and has good drainage. Container plants may require more frequent watering.

Products That Feature This Plant

Center of Attention
Formal Affair
Barrier Island
Soft and Bright

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