Content Detail

Large fothergilla is a large, rounded shrub with excellent four-season interest. Early flowering, honey-scented, bottle brush-like flowers appear before the leaves. Summer foliage is a clean, blue-green changing to outstanding shades of orange, red, and yellow in the fall.

  • Family (English) Witch-hazel
  • Family (botanic) Hamamelidaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small shrub (3-5 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early spring, mid spring, early summer, midsummer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Mounded, Round
  • Growth rate Slow

Size & form:

This is a large, rounded, multi-stemmed shrub reaching 6 to 10 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is found in the Allegheny Mountains from North Carolina and Tennessee to Alabama.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to it.

Bark color and texture:

Bark is gray to light brown and young stems are zig-zag.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are alternate, simple, 1 to 2 1/2 inches long, ovate to oblong, dark green, and sometimes leathery. Fall color is an excellent mix of red, yellow, and orange.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Flowers are fragrant, 1 to 2 inches long and white, borne on bottle brush-like flower spikes that emerge before the leaves in early spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Its fruit is a small, dried capsule, with no ornamental importance.

Plant care:

This shrub grows best in part shade to full sun with adequate soil moisture. Best flowering occurs in full sun and it prefers slightly acidic soil with plenty of added organic matter. Its shallow roots benefit from a layer of organic mulch to moderate soil temperature and conserve moisture. Water in dry periods. Prune after flowering, if needed.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

No serious pests for this shrub. However, it can get chlorosis in high pH soils. It is tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

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