Fothergilla ‘Mt. Airy’
* Common name: Fothergilla ‘Mt. Airy’
* Botanical name: Fothergilla major ‘Mt. Airy’
* What it is: Why, oh why, don’t we plant more of these? Fothergilla is a sorely under-used native flowering shrub that gets short, white, bottle-brush-like flowers in April and then stunning gold to gold/orange/red leaves in late fall. A witch hazel relative.
* Size: 5 to 6 feet tall and wide but can be kept smaller with light pruning.
* Where to use: Versatile in many settings from full sun to part shade… even tolerates damp soil. Nice enough to serve as a foundation shrub but equally at home in a mixed border garden or massed in the dappled light of a wooded area. Competes fairly well with tree roots.
* Care: Needs acid soil. Work sulfur into the bed at planting, then an annual spring scattering of an acidifying granular fertilizer such as Holly-tone or Holly Care. Keep watered until the plant is established, then it’s reasonably drought resistant. Hardly ever gets bugs or disease. Prune, if needed, right after the plant flowers.
* Great partner: Pairs nicely with the spiky form and fall color of ornamental grasses (red switchgrass in sun, golden variegated Hakone grass in shadier spots). Late-season red mums make a good perennial-flower partner.