Clethra – it’s for part sun/part shade

Wed. Aug. 26, 2020

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Clethra – it’s for part sun/part shade

So I’ve been looking to replace the hostas I quickly planted near my new Crabapple tree. I had these in my nursery on the side of the garage. That’s where I put all the “extras” I have of plants like daylilies, hostas and whatnot that I’ve divided.

This is where I place my “extras”…
those little hostas wound up chewed up! And besides… I really wanted something else!

Sometimes it’s hard for me to just toss a plant! Sometimes not!  They were chewed up pretty bad by slugs and I really was just filling up the space. I wanted something other than a spirea, so I did a little research. Bingo, I found a delightful plant at my local nursery. It’s a clethra called “Sugartina Crystalina”.

Clethra Sugartina ‘Crystalina’

 I needed something that was about 3 ft by 3 ft. It’s a native cultivar from Proven Winners that remains a manageable size and has interesting shaped flowers.

Clethra Sugartina ‘Crystalina’ shrub

This dwarf summersweet (it’s other name) has very fragrant pure white flowers that attract butterflies in mid-summer. It has dark glossy foliage and holds its tight dense shape without pruning. The dark green foliage turns yellow in fall.

Crystalina fragrant flower

This little darling doesn’t need a lot of maintenance either. If you want to, it can be pruned to shape in late winter/early spring, however, because it holds its tight, dense shape heavy pruning is rarely needed. It does tolerate damp soils. You can use this clethra in mixed borders, woodland or wildlife gardens, a foundation plant and it’s great for narrow beds or smaller gardeners.

There are other cultivars of clethra also known as summersweet, as mentioned, and sweet pepperbush. Most of those grow at least 5 ft tall and are also wider.  That link above takes you to a number of different cultivars, check ’em out!

‘Ruby spice’ is a pretty pink that grows 4 to 6 ft tall and wide.

Clethra ‘Ruby Spice’ by White Flower Farms