Fothergilla flowers

A deciduous, medium-sized rounded, spring flowering shrub with spectacular autumn leaf colour. Associates well with other acid loving plants.

Family: Hamamelidaceae
Botanical Name: Fothergilla (fo-tha-gil-a)
Common Names: Mountain witch alder

Foliage: Deciduous, rounded or broadly oval glossy green leaves. Good autumn colour.

Flowers: Small honey-scented, white, fluffy flower spikes. Often appearing before the leaves.

Flowering Period: Spring.

Soil: Moist but well-drained, fertile soil (clay, sand or loam). Acid pH.

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Plant in a north, east, west or south facing aspect.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Shrub.

Origin: America.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.

Planting and Growing Fothergilla

Plant bear rooted plants in November-March. Pot grown plants can be planted out at any reasonable time. Grow in a moist, free draining, lime-free sandy loam, in full sun or partial shade.

If you garden on chalk or alkaline soil then consider growing a compact variety in a container with ericaceous compost.

Taking Care of Fothergilla

Pruning Fothergilla

Not necessary except to remove damaged or dead wood. Prune out some of the older stems every few years to encourage fresh new growth.

Pests and Diseases

Generally trouble free.

Propagating Fothergilla

Increase by layering or from semi-ripe cuttings taken in summer. Root in a propagator with a little bottom heat.

Popular Varieties of Fothergilla

Fothergilla major is a rounded shrub with erect stems and glossy green leaves that turn brilliant gold or scarlet in autumn. Terminal erect white fluffy flower spikes in spring. Height and spread up to 6ft (2m). For sale at Van Meuwen. Cultivar 'Blue Shadow' is a compact, slow growing form with broad-elliptic leaves that are a striking blue to blue-green, changing to shades of red, orange and yellow in autumn. For sale at Suttons.

Fothergilla gardenii is a more compact form that grows to around 3ft.

Fothergilla x intermedia is a hybrid between the two species with distinctive grey-blue summer foliage and good autumn colour. Height and spread up to 6ft (2m). Cultivar 'Blue Shadow' bears grey-blue leaves that turn rich-red to orange in autumn. White bottlebrush flowers appear from mid to late spring. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.

Companion Plants for Fothergilla

Witch alder grows well with other acid loving plants, such as:

Azalea in bloom


erica heather