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Sweetshrub – Deciduous Shrubs

From our headquarters in Free Soil, Michigan, Cold Stream Farm supplies wholesale and retail live sweet shrubs plants to customers throughout the United States. Currently, there is no minimum order on sweetshrub shipments from our available stock. If you have any questions about the delivery or future availability of sweetshrub plants, feel free to contact Cold Stream Farm for assistance today.

What is a Sweet Shrub?

At Cold Stream Farm, we supply live Sweetshrub (Calycanthus Floridus) plants, which are native to the eastern United States. Although they are most commonly called sweet shrubs, the species has many other nicknames including Carolina allspice, Carolina spicebush, eastern sweetshrub, sweet Bubby, sweet Betsy, hairy allspice, strawberry bush, and more.

Sweetshrub is a term that can be used to describe most plants in the Calycanthus genus. Our sweetshrubs are fit for growth in the United States, related to but differing from Calycanthus varieties native to the West Coast and internationally. Calycanthus Floridus is obviously native to Florida but is also found growing in states as far west as Louisiana and as far north as New York.

Size and Appearance

In ideal growing conditions, a mature sweetshrub may reach up to ten feet tall and twelve feet wide. The plants are very aromatic, with “sweet” smells from both the flowers and crushed bits of leaves, twigs, and other parts.

A sweetshrub is typically recognized by its flowers, which are dark red and shaped like the blooms of a magnolia. The exact hues of the flowers range from wine-red to brownish-red, with most adult blooms producing petals several inches long.

Sweetshrub Leaves & Fruit

Leaves of a sweetshrub are dark green and fade to yellow in the fall, growing up to 6 inches long and three inches wide. The fruit of a sweetshrub plant is shaped like an ellipse, propagating as a sleek dark capsule (one or two inches long) that contains multiple seeds. It is frequently eaten by both birds and mammals, while leaves, twigs, and other plant parts are commonly mashed into potpourri.

Best Conditions for Sweetshrub Growth

Sweetshrub plants are very tolerant of a wide variety of soil conditions and perform best in rich loams. Recommend for USDA hardiness zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, sweetshrubs prefer well-drained areas with some tolerance for both wet and clay conditions.

Unlike many other species, sweetshrubs actually prefer partial shade over the full sun. While the species can withstand both conditions quite well, sweetshrubs grown in partial shade tend to grow taller than those exposed to full daily sunlight.

How to Plant and Maintain Calycanthus Floridus

Sweetshrubs may be planted ornamentally alone or in groups to form a hedge or border. In terms of maintenance, Calycanthus Floridus is a very low attention plant that is naturally resistant to most infections and infestations.

Once growing firmly in the ground, sweetshrub plants reproduce by suckering, so some trimming may be required to keep the plant from spreading too wide. Pruning is best in late spring and early summer to encourage larger healthier blooms the following year.

Wildlife Interaction and Ecology

Interestingly, Calycanthus Floridus shrubs are pollinated by beetles, attracted by the plant’s protein-rich growths. The flowers of sweetshrub plants are specifically shaped to allow for beetles to enter, but make it difficult for them to escape without transferring pollen. Once the flower is pollinated, the petals draw back, open up, and allow room for the beetle to exit.

Whitetail deer often browse the foliage of sweetshrubs, but generally do not damage mature plants to the point of no return. They are very tolerant of pests and typically grow at medium rates, completely worry-free.

Interesting Facts about Sweetshrubs

Sweetshrubs produce calycanthus oil, which is distilled from the plant’s flowers. Calycanthus oil is an essential oil and is frequently used in some perfumes and other cosmetic products. The plant has been used medically for centuries, with the earliest recordings dating back to native tribes on both coasts of North America.

Sweetshrubs are scientifically classified into the genus Calycanthus, which is a Greek word that roughly translates to “calyx flower.“ The trunk and branches of plants within this species have also been used to create arrows, baskets, and other bushcraft.

Thanks to their bright colors and low maintenance requirements, many variants of sweetshrubs have been developed and cultivated all over the world. Sweetshrub species can be found on nearly every continent, with the most growth in North America, China, and even Australia.

Purchase wholesale and retail sweetshrub plants with Cold Stream Farm. 

Shipping directly from Free Soil, Michigan, Cold Stream Farm supplies wholesale and retail sweetshrub plants with no minimum order required. Our transplants are available in a variety of sizes and life stages, with limited quantities best stocked in spring. Please give us a call if you are interested in learning more or are ready to get started with your next sweetshrub order.