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TREES & plants

Dwarf Fothergilla

Dwarf fothergilla in flower.

Dwarf fothergilla is a small, multi-season shrub with white, bottlebrush-like flowers in spring, blue-green leaves in summer turning a kaleidoscope of color in autumn.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

 

Botanical name: 
Fothergilla gardenii
All Common Names: 
Dwarf Fothergilla, Dwarf Witch-Alder
Family (English): 
Witch Hazel
Family (Botanic): 
Hamamelidaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
Native Locale: 
  • North America
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Massing
  • Foundation
  • Mixed border
  • Patio/sidewalk
Size Range: 
  • Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Spring blossoms
  • Fall color
  • Fragrant flowers
  • Showy flowers
  • Attractive bark
Season of Interest: 
  • Early spring
  • Mid spring
  • Late spring
  • Early summer
  • Mid summer
  • Late summer
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Fragrant
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Multi-stemmed
  • Round
  • Spreading
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
More Information: 

Size and Form

2 to 3 feet high and wide; mounded form.

Tree & Plant Care

Best in part shade but will grow in full sun with adequate moisture.
Prefers slightly acidic soil pH with plenty of added organic matter.
Shallow-rooted and benefits with a layer of mulch to moderate soil temperatures and conserve moisture.
Water in dry periods.
Plants should be pruned after flowering if needed.
Best flowering and fall color occurs in full sun.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious pests.
Plants can become chlorotic (yellow leaves) in high pH soils.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to eastern United States, primarily coastal regions of North and South Carolina.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is light brown.

Fall color of dwarf fothergillaDwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii)photo: John Hagstrom

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate leaves;  blue-green; oblong with rounded teeth; 1 to 3 inches long.
Fall color is a mix of yellow, orange and red.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Fragrant white bottlebrush-like flowers in 1 to 2 inch long clusters.
Flowers in early spring usually before leaves emerge. 

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Small, dried capsule; not ornamentally important.

Cultivars and their differences 

Beaver Creek® fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii 'KLMtwo'): 3 to 4 feet high, dense rounded form with orange to gold fall color.

Blue Mist fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii 'Blue Mist'): A dense, mounded shrub reaching 2-3 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide. Outstanding blue-green foliage.

Mount Airy fothergilla (Fothergilla x intermedia 'Mount Airy'):  Fothergilla x intermedia is a hybrid of dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii) and large fothergilla (Fothergilla major).  'Mount Airy' is a cultivar of this hybrid.  It grows 5 to 6 feet high with an upright form.  Leaves are dark blue-green, changing to a mix of yellow, red and orange for fall.  It flowers well and is very cold hardy.

Windy City fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii 'Windy City'): 3 to 4 feet high and wide, upright form, outstanding fall color.