Clethra alnifolia 'Hummingbird'

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 5 Professionals
Common Name: sweet pepperbush
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Clethraceae
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Heavy Shade, Erosion, Clay Soil, Wet Soil


Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Adaptive to a wide range of soil, moisture and light conditions. Prefers part shade and consistently moist to wet, acidic soils. Tolerates full shade, however. Spreads slowly by rhizomes.

Noteworthy Characteristics

This summersweet cultivar is a compact, slowly spreading, deciduous shrub which typically grows only 3-4' tall and features fluffy, bottle brush-like, terminal, 3-6" spikes (racemes) of extremely fragrant white flowers which bloom on current season's growth for 4-6 weeks in mid to late summer and serrated, glossy, dark green leaves which turn a striking yellow in autumn. Flower spikes give way to spikes of dark brown seed capsules which persist into winter and provide continuing interest. Flowers are very attractive to butterflies and bees. Somewhat unique among the summer-flowering shrubs because of its ability to produce good bloom in shady locations. This cultivar retains a more compact, mounding shape and is more floriferous than the species (Clethra alnifolia).


No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

This compact summersweet cultivar is an excellent, trouble-free shrub which masses well in conspicuous areas in lawns or shrub borders where its attractive foliage, fragrant summer bloom, good fall color and tidy winter appearance can be showcased. Compact, rounded habit makes it ideal for small gardens or around foundations. Also a good shrub for wet areas, such as low spots, stream banks or pond/water garden edges.