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This dense suckering shrub tolerates wet soils and shade. In late summer it bursts into bloom, with long panicles of fragrant white flowers, followed by attractive yellow fall color.

Latin Name

Clethra alnifolia



Also Known As

Sweet Pepperbush

Type of Plant

Shrubs Shrubs

Bloom Season

July - August


Summer Summer


Max height Max Height: 8'
Max spread Max Spread: 6'


  • Hedge
  • Naturalize
  • Rain Garden

  • Sunlight Exposure

    Full Sun Full Sun
    Part Shade Part Shade
    Full Shade Full Shade


  • Heavy Shade
  • Wet Soil
  • Erosion
  • Clay Soil

  • Attracted Wildlife

    Butterflies Butterflies
    Hummingbirds Hummingbirds


    Native Range

    Eastern North America


    Washington obtained a summersweet from John Bartram in 1792.

    Other Details

    Pollinator Pollinator
    Grown by Washington Grown by Washington

    Planted at Mount Vernon

    Planted at Mount Vernon Upper Garden

  • Upper Garden

  • Hardiness Zones

    3a 3b 4a 4b 5a 5b 6a 6b 7a 7b 8a 8b 9a 9b USDA basemap

    Average annual extreme minimum temperature 1976-2005

    map legend 3a 3b 4a 4b 5a 5b 6a 6b 7a 7b 8a 8b 9a 9b

    Bartlett Tree Expert Company has been working with Mount Vernon Estate since 2011 providing expert arboricultural care and GPS mapping for the estate’s historic trees, as well as support from their research facility.   Mount Vernon is proud to partner with Bartlett Tree Experts and appreciates their sponsorship of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Plant Finder App.

    Bring Washington's Garden Home

    Purchase our historic seeds, collected from plants grown at Mount Vernon and plant them in your own garden.

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