The right way to Develop and Take care of Fothergilla

Fothergilla spp.

Fothergilla, Fothergilla spp., is a woody shrub within the Hamamelidaceae or witch hazel household suited to cultivation USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to eight.

It blooms in early spring, infusing gardens with a honey-sweet perfume.

A close up horizontal image of fothergilla in full bloom in the garden.
Picture by Daderot, Wikimedia Commons, Public Area.

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In the summertime, leathery darkish inexperienced foliage supplies a wealthy backdrop to annuals and perennials.

It lights up the autumn panorama with orange, pink, purple, and yellow leaves for a spectacular end-of-season show.

Learn on for all it’s worthwhile to know to domesticate fothergilla in your out of doors residing area.

Right here’s what we’ll cowl:

Let’s begin with a little bit of background.

Cultivation and Historical past

Fothergilla is native to the southern United States. It was named for British doctor and plant collector John Fothergill, who introduced American species to England throughout the 18th century.

A close up horizontal image of fothergilla foliage with small flower buds forming, pictured on a soft focus background.
F. gardenii ‘Jane Platt.’ Picture by David J. Stang, Wikimedia Commons, through CC BY-SA.

Shrubs have a clumping type with attractively zigzagging branches and darkish inexperienced to blue-green, leathery foliage with deep ridges.

The shrubs are monoecious, which suggests they produce each female and male flowers and these are mixed in the identical inflorescence.

The feminine flowers are nondescript, whereas the male blooms are pollinator magnets. They’ve petal-less, creamy white stamens that resemble bottle brushes with a honey-like perfume, that bloom for 2 to 3 weeks in spring.

Latest analysis has confirmed 4 distinct species throughout the genus:

  • F. gardenii, dwarf or coastal fothergilla or witch alder
  • F. main, tall or mountain fothergilla or witch alder
  • F. milleri, dwarf witch alder
  • F. parvifolia, Kearney’s dwarf witch alder

The three dwarf species are so related that many horticulturists take into account them to be variations of F. gardenii and refer to those crops merely as “dwarf” or “giant” fothergilla.

F. gardenii and F. main are the 2 you’re more than likely to seek out when purchasing for shrubs.

Alabama fothergilla was beforehand categorised as a definite species, F. monticola, however it’s now thought-about to be F. main.

Dwarf species and cultivated varieties are greatest suited to Zones 5 to eight. They develop to mature dimensions of 18 to 36 inches tall and 24 to 48 inches vast.

Progress is compact and bushy, the flowers seem earlier than the foliage, and the leaves have symmetrical bases.

A close up horizontal image of a single fothergilla flower with foliage in soft focus in the background.
F. main.

Giant sorts develop greatest in Zones 4 to eight, reaching six to 10 ft tall with a width of 5 to 9 ft.

They’ve an upright, spreading progress behavior, and bloom on the similar time the leaves emerge. The leaves are bigger than these of the dwarf species, and the bases are asymmetrical.

There are additionally hybrid varieties categorised as Fothergilla x intermedia.

A close up vertical image of a fossilized fothergilla leaf.
F. malloryi fossil

Along with the species talked about, fossilized specimens of two US species, F. malloryi and F. praeolata, and others in China and Japan point out that the Fothergilla genus dates again tens of millions of years.

This means an environmental resilience probably chargeable for its exemplary pest and illness resistance, and desirability as a business and residential panorama shrub.

Fothergilla Propagation

There are a few methods to propagate your individual fothergilla shrubs, together with from cuttings and by transplanting nursery begins. Ranging from seed just isn’t really useful for house growers.

Let’s check out every of those.

From Seed

Fothergilla disperses seeds in a projectile trend at season’s finish.

Collected seeds are tough to sprout as they require each scarification to weaken the seed coat and cold-stratification to organize the seed for germination.

A close up horizontal image of seed pods forming on a fothergilla shrub pictured on a dark background.
Picture by Douglas Goldman, Wikimedia Commons, through CC BY-SA.

It could possibly take between 9 and 15 months for seeds to germinate.

Additionally, seeds from hybrids and different cultivated varieties might not be viable. If they’re, they received’t produce true replicas of the dad or mum crops.

To clone a favourite, take smooth stem or sucker cuttings.

From Sucker Cuttings

Suckers are child crops that emerge from the crown beside the dad or mum within the spring.

With out pruning, suckers create a colony of shrubs, which can be fascinating if you happen to’re rising fothergilla for privateness hedging.

To take away a sucker for propagation, select one that’s not less than 4 inches tall.

Use sanitary shears to sever it cleanly at its base, taking care to not harm neighboring plant tissue or depart jagged edges which will invite pests and pathogens.

Recut the stem slightly below the bottom leaf node, a pure rising level.

Dip the minimize finish into rooting hormone powder.

Place the stem in a four-inch seed starter pot crammed three-quarters stuffed with potting soil at a depth slightly below the bottom remaining leaf.

If there may be tip foliage along with the bottom leaf, pinch off the most recent progress on the tip.

Put the pot in vivid, oblique daylight and preserve the soil evenly moist however not waterlogged.

New leaves signify the profitable institution of roots and readiness for transplant.

From Softwood Stem Cuttings

To take a softwood stem chopping:

Lower a four-inch size of sentimental, inexperienced stem slightly below a leaf or leaf node. The stem needs to be lengthy sufficient that it has a number of leaf nodes.

Pinch or snip off the bottom leaf and the tip progress, then dip the minimize finish of the stem into rooting hormone powder.

Insert the dipped stem right into a four-inch seed starter pot three-quarters stuffed with potting medium to a depth slightly below the bottom leaf.

Moisten the soil and preserve it evenly moist throughout institution. Place the pot in vivid, oblique daylight.

When new progress seems, transplant the chopping to the backyard earlier than summer season’s finish to provide it time to ascertain earlier than the primary frost.

Some gardeners additionally take greenwood cuttings just a little later in the summertime, but when there isn’t sufficient time for the chopping to root and develop foliage earlier than first frost, you’ll must retailer the pots indoors for the winter and plant them out the next spring.


When transferring a seedling, rooted chopping, or nursery plant to the backyard, it’s worthwhile to set it barely greater than the bottom stage to facilitate extra water runoff.

To plant, work the soil to a depth of 12 inches and not less than twice as vast as the foundation ball till it’s crumbly and free from particles and rocks.

Amend with compost as wanted to acidify the rising setting.

Elevate transplants barely above floor stage. The sort of mounding units the crown, the place the roots and stems meet, excessive to make sure the enough drainage fothergilla requires.

Backfill and tamp down firmly. Water nicely and tamp once more to deflate air pockets.

Hold the brand new begins evenly moist however not waterlogged till they turn out to be established. New foliar progress signifies success.

The right way to Develop Fothergilla

F. main and F. gardenii want full solar to partial shade and organically wealthy, barely acidic to impartial soil with a pH of 5.0 to 7.0.

Conduct a soil take a look at as wanted to find out the rising circumstances in your backyard.

Moisture wants are average, and as soon as established, these shrubs have above common drought tolerance.

A close up horizontal image of the flowers of a fothergilla shrub pictured in light sunshine on a soft focus background.

Throughout institution, preserve even moisture with out oversaturation after which provide an inch of water per week within the absence of rain.

In case you are rising a number of standalone shrubs, observe the anticipated mature width and permit sufficient area between specimens to attain it.

For hedges, nearer planting improves density, however the heart of every plant needs to be not less than 12 to 24 inches aside to keep away from root crowding.

Rising Ideas

  • Plant in full solar or half shade.
  • Develop in organically wealthy soil with a pH of 5 to 7.
  • Present an inch of water per week.

Pruning and Upkeep

In early spring, take away suckers that develop across the shrubs per the directions within the propagation part above, except you wish to encourage the shrubs to tackle a multi-branch type and colonize the world.

Amend the backyard soil with an acidic compost, corresponding to pine bark or shredded leaves, to complement and acidify it.

Fertilize a few times within the spring with an acidifier, like Holly-Tone, per package deal directions.

Espoma Holly-Tone

Holly Tone has a 4-3-4 NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) ratio. It’s natural and breaks down naturally, infusing soil with vitamins and acidity.

Holly Tone is out there from Espoma through Amazon.

After the flowers end blooming, prune branches as desired to take away useless materials, form, or shorten. For directions, see our information to pruning shrubs and woody crops.

Fothergilla Cultivars to Choose

When choosing species and cultivars, take into account rising zones, measurement, summer season and fall leaf coloration, and any highlights famous in plant descriptions.

Listed here are some choices to think about:

Blue Shadow

F. main ‘Blue Shadow’ is a cultivated tall selection with mature dimensions of 5 to 6 ft tall and vast.

A close up square image of the foliage of fothergilla 'Blue Shadow' growing in the garden.

‘Blue Shadow’

The spring and summer season foliage is a putting blue-green that shades to orange, pink, and yellow in autumn.

F. main ‘Blue Shadow’ is out there from Nature Hills Nursery.

Dwarf Fothergilla

Dwarf F. gardenii has darkish inexperienced foliage, white blossoms, and spectacular fall yellows, reds, and oranges. It grows as much as three ft tall and vast.

It’s the straight species discovered within the wilds of the southern United States.

Dwarf Fothergilla

Dwarf F. gardenii is accessible from DAS Farms through Amazon. Vegetation are one- to two-feet-tall in one-gallon pots with soilless media for delivery.

Mount Ethereal

F. main ‘Mount Ethereal’ is a tall cultivar that prefers full solar and matures to a peak of 5 to 6 ft with a variety of 4 to 5 ft.

A close up square image of the flowers and foliage of 'Mount Airy' fothergilla growing in the garden.

‘Mount Ethereal’

Its leathery inexperienced foliage shades to blue-gray in the summertime and bursts into orange, purple, pink, and yellow within the fall.

F. main ‘Mount Ethereal’ is out there from Nature Hills Nursery in #3 containers.

Managing Pests and Illness

Whereas not susceptible to pests or illness, fothergilla might fall sufferer to both or each if weakened by poor rising circumstances, corresponding to an iron deficiency inflicting chlorotic or yellow leaves.

A close up horizontal image of fothergilla foliage suffering from iron deficiency growing in the garden.
Iron-deficient fothergilla. John Ruter, College of Georgia,

The first illness of concern is Pseudocercospora leaf spot brought on by the fungal pathogen Pseudocercospora fothergillae.

Signs embody brown recognizing, leaf browning, and leaf drop. Environmental stress and oversaturated circumstances favor fungal growth.

There aren’t any critical pest points related to crops within the Fothergilla genus.

Finest Makes use of for Fothergilla

The stature of the shrubs you select helps decide their greatest panorama placements.

A close up horizontal image of fothergilla 'Mount Airy' shrubs growing as a hedge in the garden with fall foliage in shades of yellow, orange, and red.
F. main ‘Mount Ethereal’ hedge.

Tall species and cultivars make glorious privateness hedges, particularly if you happen to enable the suckers to stay in place to create density.

Dwarf sorts are suited to low-profile hedging, basis placements, blended shrub groupings, backyard beds and borders, and standalone specimen positions.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Sort: Woody shrub Flower/Foliage Coloration White / inexperienced, blue-green
Native to: North America Tolerance: Drought
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 4-8 Upkeep: Low
Bloom Time/Season: Spring Soil Sort: Organically wealthy
Publicity: Full solar to half shade Soil pH: 5.0-7.0
Spacing: 24-48 inches (dwarf), 5-9 ft (tall) Soil Drainage: Nicely-draining
Planting Depth: Crown barely above soil stage Attracts: Pollinators
Peak: 18-36 inches (dwarf), 6-10 ft (tall) Makes use of: Mattress, border, basis planting, hedging, blended group, privateness display, specimen
Unfold: 24-48 inches (dwarf), 5-9 ft (tall) Order: Saxifragales
Progress Fee: Gradual Household: Hamamelidaceae
Water Wants: Reasonable Genus: Fothergilla
Frequent Pests and Ailments: No vital pests, Pseudocercospora leaf spot Species: Gardenii, main, milleri, parvifolia

A 4-Season Shrub

Fothergilla is a low-maintenance shrub for full solar to half shade placements with wealthy, moist, well-draining soil.

Within the spring, it wakes gardens up with creamy, honey-scented bottle brush blooms, adopted by summer season’s richly textured blue to blue-green foliage.

Within the autumn sunshine, orange, purple, pink, and yellow mild up, adopted by a winterscape of stark zigzagging branches and the promise of spring’s return.

It’s time so as to add fothergilla to your backyard planner for a shrub that rewards with year-round backyard attraction.

Do you develop fothergilla shrubs? Please share your expertise within the feedback part beneath.

In the event you discovered this rising information informative and wish to examine extra spring-flowering shrubs, we advocate the next articles subsequent:

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