Carolina Sweet Shrub-Another Deer Proof Shrub Addition

If you have deer visit your garden and want some color in partial shade or sun, consider planting Calycanthus floridus.

The flowers resemble waterlilies

A wonderful, easy-to-grow shrub, Carolina Sweet Shrub features strongly fragrant dark red flowers in early summer. The show doesn’t stop there; the leaves often turn a nice shade of yellow in the fall.

I use the cut yellow foliage in the fall in containers

Carolina Sweet Shrub or also know as Carolina Allspice, is totally left alone by deer, probably thanks to its clove-scent foliage. The shrub thrives in full sun or part shade and in moist, well-drained soil. It’s native to areas of North America and hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9.

Calycanthus shrub ready to plant

‘Hartlage Wine’ is the prettiest cultivar of this native, with much larger fragrant flowers than the species. The flowers can be up to 3 inches wide and make great fresh cuts for arrangements.

I am a sucker for green flowers and I enjoy the cultivar ‘Athens’ which has a very different flowering habit, but still has the glossy green scented leaves.

Arranged in rows on branches, the lime green flowers of Athens Calycanthus are different from the wine red color of Hartlage Wine

This deciduous shrub has a dense, rounded habit, growing 6 to 9 feet tall and as wide, so give it some room. Suckers will spring up around the shrub and you can control it by removing them or let it naturalize. Its unusual, waterlily-like, fragrant flowers combine the scent of strawberries, banana, and pineapple. Flowers appear in May and continuing blooming on and off into June and July. The dark green leaves and bark release a clove or camphor-like scent when crushed. The entire plant is fragrant and that is why deer hate it.

‘Hartlage Wine’, a cultivar of Calycanthus is covered in large wine red blooms in early summer

Growing quickly, I like to keep it in bounds by chopping the branches back right after it flowers, but keep some long branches for making fall arrangements when the foliage turns yellow.

Hartlage Wine Calycanthus has larger flowers than the species

Completely avoided by deer, probably because of the fragrance and the fuzzy leaves, I use it often in woodland settings. Also very tolerant of wet soggy soils, Carolina Sweet Shrub can be planted in areas that are difficult to plant in because of drainage issues.

A  Carolina Sweet Shrub in a woodland shrub woodland
Powerhouse deer-proof duo; Evergreen Mahonia and Carolina Sweet Shrub grow well together in partial shade

11 Replies to “Carolina Sweet Shrub-Another Deer Proof Shrub Addition”

  1. Hi Claire – we had a sweet shrub at our home on Hermleigh Rd. I loved the sweet & spicy smell. Thanks for the memory!

  2. Great recommendation. I just saw a beautiful white version of this shrub, planted in a naturalized setting. Gorgeous looking!

  3. My Mom.had one of these bushes. I haven’t been able to find them for sale in the Baltimire area. Any clues are welcome.

    1. Valley View has them in Cockeysville. Also, you can buy them on line from native plant nurseries.

  4. Mine never touched by deer. Grows very fast, very high, very wide. Agree, cut back after blooming for some control. Gorgeous tree, shrub.

  5. We seem them in the mountains when we grow driving down forest service roads. So beautiful in their natural setting. We also have two outside our kitchen window. Read about the history of these. Very interesting!

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