Discovering The Elusive Fothergilla Bush A Southeastern Native

The elusive fothergilla, native of the southeastern United States, has escaped the attention of many a plantsman and commercial growers.

Yet, it is one of the most ornamental shrubs of its size for all but the coldest parts of the country.

Charming Fothergilla BushPin

Easy to grow and requiring practically no care whatsoever, it is one of those valued plants which tend to make gardens more beautiful while at the same time making garden care less arduous.

Related to the witch-hazels, its flowers are actually composite heads of many small white flowers.

Each head is about 2” inches long and looks like an enlarged thimble in full bloom.

These appear about mid-May in New England. The fruits, which are dried capsules, are not ornamental, but the broad leaves turn brilliant orange to scarlet in the fall.

Alabama Fothergilla (Fothergilla Momicola)

The Alabama fothergilla (Fothergilla momicola) grows about 6’ feet tall.

The dwarf fothergilla grows 3’ feet tall. In contrast, the tallest group member (Fothergilla major) will reach 9’ feet in height and is much more upright and pyramidal in growth than the lower widespread Alabama fothergilla.

The fothergilla should be planted in the sun with full western exposure to obtain the best color show from the foliage in the fall.

It is usually on this side of the plant that the best orange-scarlet colors appear. 

Sometimes a plant with an eastern exposure will merely color yellow in the fall. Any good garden soils are suitable.

Placed in a foundation planting, and especially with a background of evergreens, few shrubs will give so much beauty and color throughout the growing season.

Fothergilla Care And Maintenance

Because of the dense growing mass of upright stems, fothergilla are amenable to pruning where a certain height is desired.

In the open, where there is plenty of space to enlarge, it will do well and require practically no attention whatsoever.

No serious diseases or insects mar its beauty, and although difficult to propagate from cuttings, divisions or layered branches are a simple means of propagation.

44730 by Donald Wyman