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Fothergilla gardenii Dwarf Fothergilla

Edward F. Gilman


This 4- to 6-feet-tall shrub covers itself with soft, white flowers each spring before leaves emerge (Figure 1). It appears to be covered with snow when in full bloom. Bright red, orange, or yellow fall color bring the shrub back to life before leaves fall to the ground.

Figure 1. Dwarf fothergilla.
Figure 1.  Dwarf fothergilla.


General Information

Scientific name: Fothergilla gardenii
Pronunciation: faw-thur-GIL-luh gar-DEE-nee-eye
Common name(s): dwarf fothergilla
Family: Hamamelidaceae
Plant type: shrub
USDA hardiness zones: 5 through 8A (Figure 2)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: native to North America
Uses: accent; border; mass planting
Availablity: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant
Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.



Height: 4 to 6 feet
Spread: 4 to 6 feet
Plant habit: round
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: slow
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: dentate
Leaf shape: elliptic (oval); obovate; orbiculate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: red; yellow
Fall characteristic: showy


Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: pleasant fragrance; spring flowering


Fruit shape: irregular
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: black
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not particularly showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: brown
Current year stem/twig thickness: thin


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: acidic; loam; clay; sand
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: unknown
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: native plant that often reproduces into nearby landscapes
Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

The moderately small size makes this appropriate for planting in a residential landscape. It can be used in a shrub border to spice up the yard in spring and fall. Plant it near the corner of a large commercial building and leave it unpruned to allow the natural rounded form to emerge. It is also suited for planting along the foundation of the house provided the soil drains well. Clipping the plant can reduce flowering so locate it where it can grow to its natural size

Fothergilla can be grown in any soil except those that are excessively drained. Plants suffer in extended drought, especially in full sun. An acidic clayey soil that holds moisture and drains well is ideal.

There are 5 or more cultivars listed with various growth habits, foliage patterns and fall color. Fothergilla major and Fothergilla monticola are larger plants.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are usually serious enough to be damaging.

Publication #FPS-214

Release Date:May 27, 2015

Reviewed At:April 18, 2023

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About this Publication

This document is FPS-214, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman