The Ruby Spice Summersweet, otherwise known as the Clethra Alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ or Taro ‘Black Coral’, Elephant Ears ‘Black Coral’, is a rather well known bulb plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.
Best known for its low maintenance and slow growth, this bulb will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.
This is why all the topics you need to know in order to achieve this will be covered in this Ruby Spice Summersweet Care Guide. Ready? Let’s go!
The basic care guidelines you need to remember for your Ruby Spice Summersweet are the following:
- Water: The Ruby Spice Summersweet loves moist soil but will still survive dusty soil when it is established.
- Light: Keep your Clethra Alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ in an environment where it can receive partial sun on a daily basis.
- Soil: Make sure to keep the Ruby Spice Summersweet in soil with moist but well-draining to poorly draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand, loam, and clay.
And as with many other plants, these are the only three care factors you need to remember to make sure your Ruby Spice Summersweet is, for the most part, healthy and well to survive.
Scientific / Botanical Aspects
In botanical terms, the Ruby Spice Summersweet belongs to the Araceae family, the genus Colocasia and the species Esculenta, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Clethra Alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ (KLEE-thra al-nee-FOH-lee-uh).
As with other Colocasia’s, the Ruby Spice Summersweet is a deciduous plant, which means it will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.
The Ruby Spice Summersweet is a plant native to the India to Southern China and Sumatera.
As a rule of thumb, we recommend to always keep in mind your plants’ native region and environment, since these are the conditions that your Ruby Spice Summersweet is most accustomed to, thus where it can most favorably.
With this in mind, the Clethra Alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ will be most used to the heat zones in the 8 – 12 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a and the ideal climate zone is between 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1, H2.
Growth and Size
In terms of size and growth, the Ruby Spice Summersweet is a relatively slow grower, which makes things easy for any plant enthusiast.
But, how big does the Ruby Spice Summersweet actually get? What should you expect in terms of size? Let’s dive right in…
The Clethra Alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ can grow up to 3′ – 4′ (90cm – 120cm) in 3′ – 4′ (90cm – 120cm) and 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm) in 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm).
These dimensions make the Ruby Spice Summersweet a relatively medium bulb compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.
This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 36″ (90cm) free so the Ruby Spice Summersweet can spread to its best extent.
In terms of watering, the Ruby Spice Summersweet is a fairly complicated plant to take care of.
This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.
Specifically, most experts agree that the Clethra Alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ loves moist soil but will still survive dusty soil when it is established.
Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water.
As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Ruby Spice Summersweet in soil with moist but well-draining to poorly draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive.
When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage, moist, and occasionally wet properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times.
However, in our experience, the best solution to knowing the right amount of water for your Ruby Spice Summersweet is with the ‘thumb’ technique. Basically, you insert your finger into the soil, and based if you feel the soil moist or dry, you determine if it needs any water, which is the most appropriate way to go about watering your leafy friend.
As mentioned earlier, the Ruby Spice Summersweet prefers to have soil with good drainage, moist, and occasionally wet properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of sand, loam, and clay.
This is why most experts agree that the Ruby Spice Summersweet requires soil with clay, and loam (silt), which will give you the right conditions it needs.
In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably neutral to acid soil.
Light and Exposure
In terms of light & exposure, the Ruby Spice Summersweet requires partial sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions.
Most experts agree that this bulb will do well as long as you keep it in partial to full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.
Specifically, we recommend that you place your Clethra Alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ in little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to full and direct sun (more 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).
Being a deciduous plant, the Ruby Spice Summersweet will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.
But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.
In particular, this bulb is well known for its fragrant and showy flowers around the plant enthusiast community.
The Ruby Spice Summersweet produces some beautiful pink, or green, gold/yellow and white flowers around this time of year.
The leaves from the Ruby Spice Summersweet have a beautiful green color during most of the year.
In particular, they have a simple arrangement with a rosulate organization in its leaves.
You can expect the leaves from your Clethra Alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ to be around (> 6 inches) in size.
Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance
The Ruby Spice Summersweet is well known for its tolerance to wet soil, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Clethra Alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ will be fine.
How should you then organize your garden to include your new Ruby Spice Summersweet? Here are some recommendations by expert gardeners.
Most Clethra Alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ owners agree that this bulb will look great in most cottage gardens of all types.
Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of mediterranean garden styles.
In particular, the Ruby Spice Summersweet’s best location within your garden is in ponds and streams, beds and borders, patio and containers, and in small gardens, others use it for landscaping in a firescaping/fire wise, border, very wet areas, coastal exposure, hedge, or a wildlife garden.
Ruby Spice Summersweet’s do well with some other plants beside it. One good companion plant is the Buxus, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.
Others consider that a nice Weigela will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!
So that’s it! These are the main plant care requirements that you need to keep in mind in order to have a healthy Ruby Spice Summersweet in your garden or home.