Clethra alnifolia Vanilla Spice®
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Clethra alnifolia Vanilla Spice®

Clethra alnifolia Vanilla Spice®

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SKU: S60988
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Quick Facts
Common Name: Sweet Pepperbush
Hardiness Zone: 4-9S/W Exposure: Sun to Part Shade
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Blooms In: Jul-Aug
Mature Height: 3-6' Spacing: 5-6'
Read our Growing Guide Ships as: ONE GALLON POT
Fragrance: Yes
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Product Details

Product Details

Extra-large white flowers and compact size are outstanding features of this improved Clethra alnifolia Vanilla Spice® variety. Individual florets are about twice the usual size, blooming in 10–12" bottlebrush-like panicles. Their sweet fragrance attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. This plant makes an excellent choice for the woodland garden or a mixed border. A Proven Winners®/Color Choice® variety. 'Caleb' PP 21,589

The genus comprises about 30 species of small trees and shrubs native to the Americas and eastern Asia. Only a few are hardy, and those, including our East Coast native C. alnifolia, are known for their spikes of fragrant flowers in white or pink. Few ornamental shrubs bloom as late in the season—its buds wait until late July to open.

Clethra is amazingly adaptable, growing equally well in full sun or partial shade, and in moist conditions or dry (evenly moist soil is required in the South). It's an excellent choice for the natural garden or a mixed border and is essential in any low, wet spot.

For more information on growing and care, click Growing Guide.




The size of the plants we ship has been selected to reduce the shock of transplanting. For some, this means a large, bareroot crown. Others cannot travel bareroot or transplant best if grown in containers. We ship these perennials and annuals in 1 pint pots, except as noted. We must point out that many perennials will not bloom the first year after planting, but will the following year, amply rewarding your patience. We ship bulbs as dormant, bare bulbs, sometimes with some wood shavings or moss. Shrubs, Roses, vines, and other woody plants may be shipped bareroot or in pots. The size of the pot is noted in the quick facts for each item.


We ship our bulbs and plants at the right time for planting in your area, except as noted, with orders dispatched on a first-come, first-served basis by climate zone. We also ship a wide range of containers and planters, tools, supplies, fertilizers, garden wear, garden decor items, as well as indoor decorations like wreaths and dried bouquets when available. Estimated dates for shipping are indicated in the green Shipping Details box for each item. Please supply a street address for delivery. Kindly contact us with two weeks notice, if you'll be away at the expected time of delivery.


We guarantee to ship plants that are in prime condition for growing. If your order is damaged or fails to meet your expectations, we will cheerfully replace or refund it. Please contact our Customer Service Department at 1-800-503-9624 or email us at [email protected]. Please include your order number or customer number when contacting us.



Average Customer Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (3 Reviews) Write a Review

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Favorite little shrub

I have over a dozen of these shrubs from White Flower Farm and they are so lovely. Butterflies, bees - they are covered in pollinators! It's a wonderful sight, and the scent that lingers on the air in late July/August is glorious. I really do love these plants! And every plant that I've received has been healthy and in great shape.

I do have a couple of notes: They leaf out a bit later than most plants (usually by mid-May) but they get bushy fairly quickly. And, while Clethra Anifolia are generally deer- and rabbit-resistant, they will potentially receive some damage if critters find them. There's a neighborhood rabbit who likes to take down and snack on the thinner stems of one shrub, usually during late winter, and deer have nibbled on younger plants, so some protection may be needed. They bounce back nicely, though, and are absolutely worth growing.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful. Do you? yes no  Certified buyer

Disappointingly little flowers despite good care in the first year

I had higher hopes for this plant based on seeing the photos in the website. I know they're usually more lush somehow but there's such disparity between what I had and what's pictured it was really disappointing especially as this was part of a memorial garden. The plant grew and I hope of course it comes back in the winter but we had maybe like four or five flowers the whole season unlike a bush festooned with them like your picture shows. There's no mention in your description that I can see about needing to wait multiple years so all I can conclude is I should have had a better showing based on the pictures you show and no mention of otherwise in the growing guide or description. I did everything the growing God said I treated it very carefully it's planted in if not full sun then part sun it's not the first time I've planted a shrub so I don't know what's going on at the flowering rate was ridiculously low compared to what you show It really just looked like a green bush which is not what I needed with occasionally very few white flowers. I'd love to hear a solution if there is one otherwise I don't think I could recommend this which is sad because I was desperate for this to be one of the two main showstopper pieces of my memorial garden.

7 of 19 people found this review helpful. Do you? yes no

Excited to see

I purchased this plant last fall and was pleasantly surprised when it arrived. Everything I have purchased from White flower farm has done very well and this was no exception. This shrub was late to bud and I was concerned it didn’t survive the winter. Thankfully, there are now beautiful green leaves starting to appear. We can’t wait to see what the summer has in store!

43 of 44 people found this review helpful. Do you? yes no  Certified buyer

Growing guide

Growing guide
Print Grow Guide

Latin Name Pronunciation: kleth'ruh   

Grow Clethra in full sun or partial shade (protection from the afternoon sun is required in the South). Native to wet soils, but also tolerates dry soils in the North (and every kind in between).  Evenly moist soil is required in the South and West.

Not fussy about soil pH, as long as it is not highly alkaline. Plants tend to sucker (produce new shoots) from the base, eventually forming dense thickets.

Clethra blooms on the current season's growth. Prune as required in late winter.

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