Tag Archives: clethra ruby spice

It’s Clethra time

As of the past week or so, there is an unbelievable scent that overwhelms me each time I skip out of my garage and head to work. And that is coming from a guy in desperate need of fixing his deviated septum. Seriously, I can’t smell a thing most of the time.

The producer of said perfumey scent is my Clethra ‘Hummingbird’:  

This deciduous shrub has been a top performer for me for years now. The deer leave it alone, it doesn’t mind the wet feet and blooms profusely each and every July. But maybe the coolest thing  about it is the way it attracts all sorts of critters to it when in bloom:

I’ve even captured a quick video to truly represent the bee party that goes on all day long:

Knowing how solid Clethra is in my garden, I finally made the smart decision to add even more shrubs this spring. Here is where those stand as we speak:

I am even enjoying the fact that ‘Hummingbird’ has started to sucker at the base of the plant:

Sucker away you beautiful thang. The more the merrier.

I plan on scouring the nurseries this fall for even more Clethra shrubs on the cheap.

I can’t have enough of these gems.    

Clethra Ruby Spice

When I shop for shrubs, I have specific criteria that I cannot compromise on. The shrub must be deer resistant and tolerant of wet, poorly drained soil. Luckily, over the years I have found that my pool of potential shrubs is much larger than I ever originally imagined.
One of the shrubs that has joyously met my criteria and thrived for years now is Clethra Ruby Spice.
This deciduous shrub has become a personal favorite of mine as it consistently blooms like mad each summer and the scent of these blooms is other worldly. Some other tidbits on this shrub:
  • Survives in zones 4-8
  • Maximum size seems to average out at about 6 x 5. Mine is about 5 x 3 in year four
  • Here in zone 6, the bottle brush-like blooms usually appear in early July and last until early August. The blooms are an absolute magnet to butterflies and bees, especially bees.
  • This shrub appears to be cool with full sun to partial shade but from what I’ve read, can bloom in deep shade and that is all sorts of awesome
  • Like all Summersweet shrubs, Clethra Ruby Spice will apparently sucker although mine has yet to do so
  • Clethra are native to the eastern U.S.
Some photos of my ‘Ruby Spice’:
In bloom:
clethra ruby spice bloom


clethra ruby spice bloom


clethra ruby spice bloom


The shrub shape has been good for me and the bright green and lustrous leaves make this one look good from afar:

clethra ruby spice bloom

The seed capsules look good, post bloom period:

clethra ruby spice

And fairly decent (don’t believe some of the hype), autumnal color:

clethra ruby spice fall color


clethra ruby spice fall color


clethra ruby spice fall color

Besides the somewhat underwhelming fall color, the only other possible negative is that this shrub is late to leaf out in spring. One would be wise not to place this shrub in too prominent of a location if one isn’t OK with the lack of green in spring.

Beyond that, count me as a huge fan of Clethra Ruby Spice.

What has your experience been like? Please, do tell.