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October Flora Spotlight:
Witch-Alder

Witch-Alder
Fothergilla major

This native is named after Dr. John Fothergill, a wealthy 18th century Essex English gardener and patron of the great American plants man John Bartram. A member of the witch-hazel family, common names for this plant include witch-alder, bottlebrush bush, granny gray beard and spring scent, but Fothergilla seems to be the most commonly used name.

In the spring Fothergilla blooms with creamy-white, bottlebrush-type flowers that provide a sweet honey fragrance. The flowers bloom on naked stems before the foliage emerges. This floral display is very dramatic. When fall arrives, Fothergilla is a kaleidoscope of orange, yellow, and red and provides a dazzling display of rich autumn color in the landscape. It is a great shrub for the perennial border or woodland environment. For a spectacular showing, plant three to five in your garden. It grows 5 to 6 feet tall with a spread of 6 feet. It is a slow growing, but long-lived shrub.

Acidic soil is a must; it will not tolerate limey conditions. It does best in a moist, leafy, soil rich in humus in part shade to nearly full sun. Plants in more sun will be bushier and have more flowers. Once established, Fothergilla is one of the most trouble free flowering shrubs you can grow. Prune in late winter or early spring, removing crossing branches and wayward shoots

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