TREES & plants

Dwarf Fothergilla

Dwarf fothergilla is a great multi-season shrub offering white flowers in spring, good gray-green leaves in summer and yellow, orange and red color in autumn.

Botanical name: 
Fothergilla gardenii
All Common Names: 
Dwarf Fothergilla, Dwarf Witch-Alder
Family (English): 
Witch Hazel
Family (Botanic): 
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
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
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

Plants should be pruned after flowering (very little pruning is 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 United States, primarily coastal regions of North and South Carolina.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is light brown.

Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii)Dwarf 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

White flowers in  1 to 2 inch long, bottlebrush-like clusters in early spring; fragrant.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Small, dried capsule; not ornamentally important.

Related hybrid:

Mount Airy (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 tall 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.