July Plant of the Month:Clethra barbinervis – Japanese Clethra

An uncommon large shrub or small tree in the residential landscape, Clethra barbinervis is rarely seen but deserves a prominent place where its refined foliage, exfoliating bark and fragrant white flowers can be seen up close.

The white flowers appear in 4 to 6” long terminal racemose panicles from July thru August. Typically reaching a mature size of 10 to 20’ tall, this shrub has a variable habit – in height and width — and is an easy care, trouble-free plant, preferring well drained, organic soils in partial shade conditions.

Clethra barb
The Japanese Clethra

As the plant matures with age, the stems develop an attractive cinnamon brown to gray exfoliating bark, similar in appearance to Stewartia pseudocamellia.

This plant is suitable as a specimen or inter-planted within a mixed border and is a nice addition to the winter landscape. Hardy zones 5 to 7

Clethra barb fall color
Clethra Barb Fall color