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 fall color.

  • Family (English) Witch-hazel
  • Family (botanic) Hamamelidaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Small shrub (3-5 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 fall, early spring, early summer, mid fall, mid spring, midsummer
  • 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 NC, TN, to AL.

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 inch ovate to oblong leaves, dark green, and sometimes leathery leaves. Fall color is an excellent mix of red, yellow and orange.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Flowers are fragrant, 1 to 2-inch long white, 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 pH 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 become chlorotic in high pH soils and it is tolerant of black walnut toxicity.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift