Dwarf Fothergilla

Fothergilla gardenii

Family: Fothergilla

Type: Shrub

Other Common Name: Witch Alder

Dwarf Fothergilla, or Fothergilla gardenii, is a charming, compact shrub known for its seasonal interest and easy care. It’s an excellent choice for small gardens and mixed borders.

This plant is renowned for its fragrant, bottlebrush-like white flowers in spring. The blooms appear before the foliage, offering a delightful display against the bare branches.

In fall, Dwarf Fothergilla showcases stunning foliage in shades of yellow, orange, and red. This shrub provides year-round interest with its seasonal color changes and attractive, slow-growing habit.

Needs & Preferences

Hardiness Zone: 5a-5a

Pet Friendly: Yes

Moisture Preference: Moist

Sun Needs: Full sun to partial shade


Growth Rate: Slow

Average Height (feet): 3

Average Spread (feet): 3

Average Life Span (years): 40

Form: Round


Flower Color: White

Bloom Season: In mid spring

Foliage Color: Green

Leaf Fall Color: Orange

Foliage Shape: Round

Bark Color: Brown

Bark Texture: Smooth

Landscaping Your Yard With Dwarf Fothergilla

Incorporating Dwarf Fothergilla into your landscape brings multi-seasonal interest. Its compact size makes it ideal for various garden spaces without overwhelming them.

This shrub works beautifully as a specimen plant or in mixed shrub borders. Its vibrant fall color and spring blooms make it a standout in any garden.

Dwarf Fothergilla is also great for foundation plantings and small hedges. Its neat growth habit and attractive foliage create a tidy, appealing look.


Suitable Garden Styles

Woodland Garden

In woodland gardens, Dwarf Fothergilla fits naturally. Its preference for dappled shade and organic-rich soil complements the understory of a wooded area.

Cottage Garden

Dwarf Fothergilla adds charm to cottage gardens. Its spring flowers and colorful fall foliage blend seamlessly with the informal, lush style of cottage planting.

Formal Garden

This shrub can also enhance formal garden designs. Its symmetrical growth and seasonal changes add interest and structure to formal garden layouts.

Dwarf Fothergilla Landscaping Ideas

Plant alongside spring bulbs. The early blooms of Dwarf Fothergilla complement spring-flowering bulbs, extending the garden’s interest.

Use in a native plant garden. Being a native plant, it supports local wildlife and fits perfectly into naturalistic garden designs.

Combine with evergreens for contrast. The changing colors of Dwarf Fothergilla contrast beautifully with the constant green of evergreens.

Seasonal Interest


In spring, Dwarf Fothergilla bursts into life with fragrant, white flowers. The blooms stand out on the still-bare branches, heralding the start of the growing season.


During summer, the shrub is covered in deep green leaves, offering a lush, full appearance. It provides a steady, green backdrop for other garden plants.


Fall is when Dwarf Fothergilla truly shines. Its leaves turn to vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red, creating a spectacular autumn display.


In winter, after the leaves have fallen, Dwarf Fothergilla's branching structure adds architectural interest to the garden. Its compact form remains attractive, even in dormancy.

Planting Tips

Where to Plant

Dwarf Fothergilla thrives in a location with full sun to partial shade. It prefers morning sun with some afternoon shade, especially in hotter climates.


This shrub does best with a mix of sun and shade. Full sun encourages more vibrant fall colors, but too much direct sun can stress the plant in hot climates.


Dwarf Fothergilla prefers acidic, well-draining soil rich in organic matter. It can tolerate a range of soil types, including clay, as long as the drainage is good.


Space Dwarf Fothergilla plants about 3 to 5 feet apart. This spacing allows for their growth over time and ensures proper air circulation around each plant.

When to Plant

The best time to plant Dwarf Fothergilla is in the spring or early fall. Planting in cooler weather allows the shrub to establish its roots without the stress of high summer temperatures.

How to Plant

Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Place the shrub in the hole, fill it with soil, and water thoroughly. Adding organic mulch can help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.

Plant Care Tips


Water regularly, especially during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Once established, Dwarf Fothergilla is somewhat drought-tolerant but prefers consistent moisture.


Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring. Avoid over-fertilizing, which can harm the plant and reduce its flowering and fall color.


Pruning is rarely needed but can be done to shape the plant or remove any dead or diseased branches. The best time for pruning is late winter or early spring before new growth starts.

Spring Care

In spring, remove any winter mulch and apply a balanced fertilizer. Monitor for new growth and water as needed to encourage healthy development.

Summer Care

During summer, keep the soil consistently moist, especially in dry conditions. Dwarf Fothergilla requires little care during the summer months.

Fall Care

In fall, prepare the plant for winter. Reduce watering as the plant goes dormant, and apply a layer of mulch to protect the roots in colder climates.

Winter Care

Dwarf Fothergilla requires minimal care in winter. In colder regions, ensure it is well-mulched. The shrub is generally hardy and doesn't need winter protection in most climates.


How Big Does Dwarf Fothergilla Grow?

Dwarf Fothergilla typically grows to about 3 to 4 feet in height and width, making it suitable for small to medium-sized garden spaces.

Is Dwarf Fothergilla Deer Resistant?

Yes, Dwarf Fothergilla is generally considered deer resistant. It’s a good choice for gardens in areas with high deer populations.

Can Dwarf Fothergilla Be Used for Hedging?

While not a traditional hedge plant, Dwarf Fothergilla can be used for informal, low hedges or borders due to its compact size and attractive foliage.

Products That Feature This Plant

Spring Supreme
Seasonal Spectacle

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