Clethra (summer sweet) question

CassandraApril 23, 2006

I planted a 2' Ruby Spice clethra last fall. It doesn't show any leafing out at all at this point in spring. I know it is a very late bloomer, but shouldn't I be seeing some new growth--buds at least--by now? Thanks.

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ginkgonut(4)

Clethra is really slow to leaf out. And I mean really slow. I looked at mine today and if I got real close and squinted real hard, I could see the tiniest of buds starting to form leaves. If I remember correctly, last year they didn't fully leaf out until about mid May. So give them time and they'll come to life.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 8:25PM
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Cassandra

Thanks gink. I'll try to be patient!! It is hard when everything else is greening up and the clethera is still a hunk of dead-looking twigs and old leaves. Let's hope it will come back.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 7:13AM
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irrigationcontractor

Hmm. I planted three Ruby Spice last October. After planting them, I realized that I need a fourth one, so I went and bought one last week. It actually has buds, where my other three don't. I was planning on digging them up today and taking them back for replacement. Now I am torn!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 12:55PM
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Karen Jurgensen

I wouldn't take your clethra back until at least mid may- very often shrubs sold at garden centers have been living in a nice cushy green house for a LONG time. This means they can be weeks to a full month ahead in development versus the plants in your yard, that have to deal with temps in the 30s and 40s. If that clethra bush has been sitting in 70 degree temps day in and out, it's not surprising that it has leafed out ahead of the shrubs in your back yard.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 2:22PM
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Cassandra

Anyone's clethra leaf out yet? Just checking--no life on mine yet! Maybe all this rain will help.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 6:04PM
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ginkgonut(4)

I gave mine a prune about a month ago and the other day, before all the rain, I noticed some sap flowing out of the top of the stems. So mine do seem to have some life in them, but no leaves yet.

You could always try the scratch test on a stem to see if you can find green wood underneath. That would at least tell you if they are alive.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 7:44PM
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karenn3(z4)

Mine are just beginning, They are on a west exposure, near the house, but shaded by a neighbor's silver maple. I did not protect them and I see some dieback.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2006 at 7:52PM
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ginkgonut(4)

Yeah, finally getting some leaves. They look to have survived quite well.

This reminds me of an interesting people story. Working at a nursery last summer, a woman kept coming in checking on the clethra supply (the whole month of May) We had a good selection, but they were the plants that overwintered so they were being their slow usual selves. Of course she didn't want them because they were not fully leafed out like all the other plants. No matter how much I tried to explain that this is how clethra behaves, walked her over to the display garden that had clethra looking like the potted ones, she was convinced there was something wrong. She kept coming back every week to see if we had new ones, but of course we didn't stock new ones because the old ones didn't sell. Fnally, by Memorial weekend we had new ones that looked like they had been forced by the amount of growth they had.

I wonder if she ever ended up buying one?
I wonder what she is thinking now?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 12:27PM
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Cassandra

I still don't see anything so, sadly, I think mine are not coming back.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 6:30PM
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irrigationcontractor

Mine aren't doing anything yet either. I think I'm going to dig them up and take them back.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 12:38AM
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mary_lu_gw

I am in southwestern Wisconsin, almost a zone 5 and mine are just starting to bud. They look sickly, but they did the same thing last year and the year before that and came through fine each year. I too have found that clethra are just REALLY slow waking up. So don't be in too big of a hurry to dig them up yet.
Marylu

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 10:44PM
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Cassandra

My clethra is indeed alive: amazingly, it leafed out between yesterday and today!! So you are absolutely right, mary lu! I'd better jot this one down in my garden journal or I'll be sure it is dead every spring and be tempted to tear it out.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 6:04PM
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irrigationcontractor

I am shocked. I noticed while weeding today that one of the clethura has a few leafy buds. I noticed 30 seconds ago that another one does too.
Just yesterday, I was telling my husband that I was going to dig them up this week and return them. Now I'm just kinda irked. Do I really want something in my Minnesota garden that looks dead till June?
I also just became aware today that they want acid. How did I not know this till today?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 7:21PM
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teri55(z6MA)

Because there was no sign of growth I stupidly cut mine to the ground thinking maybe it starts all over again like a perennial. Have I killed it?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 8:09PM
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dmurray407(4)

Does Clethra like to be covered in the winter? I've never had one before and have one on order this spring. It's going on the south east side of my house in a hummingbird garden.
Thanks!
Deb

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 4:47PM
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ditas

We were 2 weeks late for everything ... understandable!!!

I finally got 1 of the 16 Candles from Lady Clethra ... even tardier than Tardiva but she has arrived!!! Â:)

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 7:14PM
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ditas

Deb - 'forgot to add this to your ? - I planted my tardy little lady last Fall & was told by the nursery not to worry about a winter coat for her (she is hardy to z3) - just make sure she was well mulched ... also to expect her to show up for the party late!!!

We had a lot of snow this past Winter - I just mounded snow on her.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 9:30AM
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nikhilkumar

My clethra has been "growing" for the past 4 years - still no flowers? How long does it take. It starts in May has leaves but is an exceptionally slow grower. No shortage of fertilizer, has partial shade exposure, Spruce tree and Yew hedge close by.

Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 6:45PM
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