Photo: Sweet Pepperbush

Photo: Sweet Pepperbush

Common Name: sweet pepperbush
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Clethraceae
Zone: 3 to 9
Native Range: Eastern North America
Height: 3 to 8 feet
Spread: 4 to 6 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Color: White
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Flowers: Showy Flowers, Fragrant Flowers
Leaves: Good Fall Color
Fruit: Showy Fruit
Wildlife: Attracts Butterflies
Tolerates: Clay Soil, Wet Soil, Dense Shade
Uses: Erosion Control, Hedge, Rain Garden, Will Naturalize


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

Summersweet (sometimes also called sweet pepperbush) is a slender, upright, slowly spreading, deciduous shrub which typically grows 5-8' 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.


No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Summersweet 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. Slender, upright habit makes it ideal for planting in narrow spaces in the perennial border or around foundations. Also a good shrub for wet areas, such as low spots, stream banks or pond/water garden edges.


64 - 80 cm