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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):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub

Native Locale:

  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk,
  • Specimen

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 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Alkaline soil

Seasons of Interest:

  • early spring,
  • mid spring,
  • late spring,
  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • late summer,
  • early fall,
  • mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Fragrant,
  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Round

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.

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

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 hybrids and their differences 

Jane Platt Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii 'Jane Platt'): Cascading branches, narrow leaves, yellow read fall color.

Suzanne Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii 'Suzanne'): Compact, 2-3 feet high, orange-red 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.

Blue Shadow fothergilla (Fothergilla x intermedia 'Blue Shadow'): A sport of Mt Airy, blue green foliage,  rounded habit 5 to 6 feet high, orange-red-yellow fall color.

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.

Red Monarch™ fothergilla (Fothergilla x intermedia 'KLMfifteen'): Upright habit, 6 to 8 foot high and 4 to 6 feet wide, yellow-orange-red fall color

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

Location of Fothergilla gardenii (Dwarf fothergilla) at the Arboretum