Forgotten Fothergilla

How's come more gardeners don't plant Fothergilla?

And speaking of "how's come", is that a Hoosierism, a particular figure of speech common among people who are from Indiana? Or do others phrase questions that way, too?

Anyway, why don't more gardeners plant Fothergilla?

When I was at a garden center a few weeks ago, the helpful sales person suggested that I get some Fothergilla shrubs, but I passed, explaining that I already had some. "Good choice", he said and we agreed that more people should plant Dwarf Fothergill, Fothergilla gardenii, especially.

What's not to like?

- white, bottle-brush flowers in the spring
- clear, green foliage all summer long
- no pruning required as it doesn't seem to get more than three or four feet tall
- no known pests or diseases, at least in my garden
- does well in a moderate drought without additional watering, at least it did in my garden

And if that isn't enough to make everyone run out and buy some of these shrubs, wait a minute, because I haven't told you about its best feature.

It's best feature is great fall leaf color.

The close up picture of the foliage above was taken in bright sunlight a week or so ago, just as the leaves were starting to turn.

The picture below was taken a few hours ago, right before sunset on this cold, cloudy day, so it's not the best picture, but you get the idea.
Why don't people plant more Fothergilla? What am I missing? What are they missing?


  1. I've been wanting one since I saw the blooms this spring. Maybe I can put that on my Christmas list!

  2. This is how I feel about Blueberry bushes...

    great all season use and the leaves right now are redder then burning bushes!

  3. So that's what them pretty bushes is that I's been wonderin bout. The name was right on the tip of my tongue. I'll have ta propagate me some.

  4. Your Fothergilla looks very beautiful in their fall color. We bought a F. gardenii several autumns ago and it displayed the brilliant colors yours do but in the subsequent years in ground it just turns a sickly yellow each year though the plant is very healthy. The white flowers in spring are quite something to see and that's enough to keep it but I wish it would have better color in the fall. I wonder if soil acidity or fertility has something to do with the lack of color?

  5. Oh, how lovely. Maybe we will get rid of those shrubs around the old dog kennel! :)

  6. I've never heard of it, and after checking the Wildflower Center's data on it ( I know why:

    Water Use: High
    Light Requirement: Part Shade
    Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
    Soil Description: Well-drained acid peaty or sandy loams.
    Conditions Comments: Fits well in a woodland garden of azaleas and rhododendrons. Always avoid very dry sites.

    Nothing there that describes my garden, or many parts of Austin. Of course, now that I say that, Annie in Austin will write to say she's been growing fothergilla for years, and it's doing great.

    It does sound like a great shrub. I enjoy hearing about your native-plant success stories.

    By the way, we don't use the phrase "How's come" down here. But we do use the singular version: How come?

  7. Yeah, we "how come" also. I've never planted Fothergilla because I've never seen it at the nursery. I guess I need to hang out in the shrub section a little more often.

  8. What Pam/Digging wouldn't grow here either. And I say "how come" too but I may have learned that growing up in Ohio.

  9. How come my ears are ringing? Was my name mentioned? [No 'How's come' in either IL or TX that I've noticed.]

    Everything Carol said about Fothergilla is true and everything Pam/Digging said about its unsuitability for Austin is true, too. I managed to grow it in alkaline Illinois with amendments, and thought it was beautiful but can't imagine it surviving here in Austin.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  10. How's come I have not ever noticed that Frothy bush?? It likes part shade and sandy loam?? I have lots of that. I will have to look for one of those frothy bushes.

  11. How's come I don't have any of those there plants? Wouldn't they grow well in my front bed now that that there tree has been thinned out some?

  12. I'd never heard of it either. I'm glad Pam/Digging dug into the why--it's not suited to Austin's chalky soil.

    Once again I'm enticed by a plant only to be told, nope you can't grow it. Darn!

  13. Have it! Love it! Wish I had Fothergilla major (on the list)! If you have lots of room it doesn't need pruning! How's come? Never heard that expression until today! Like it!

  14. According to Etymologists , Carol, in the mid-1800's folks started asking "how come " as a short meaning of " how did that come about ?" It's not standard English but neither is y'all, ain't and epitoozie but we Southerners like to make our own words up.

    Fothergilla is pretty popular at the Tree and Shrub lot at the Garden Center where I work. I love the texture of it's leaves and of course, it's fuzzy little white blooms are cute and the Fall color is spectacular.

  15. I'm not familiar with this shrub but it sounds like a great one to have. I'll have to put it on my wish list too.

    In Alabama, "how come" is used quite often and I'm sure there are those that would say, "how's come". I've also heard people say, "why come".

  16. I agree! How's come it ain't used more often! ;) I love these little shrubs, and just last week planted a bunch of them at a business we maintain here in town. I expect I will be asked what they are, come Spring.

  17. I never heard of fothergilla and I never heard anyone say "How's come..." rather than "How come..." -- at least as far as I recall. Perhaps I should get out more.

    It's a lovely shrub though. Frankly, I don't think shrubs get enough credit and attention altogether.

    --Robin (Bumblebee)

  18. How's come I've heard how's come? Oh, I'm a Hoosier. Now how's come I don't have that shrub in my garden?

  19. David in Greensboro NC... I would definitely put this on your Christmas list. I highly recommend this shrub. Get several!

    Nickie... I would love to grow blueberries, and have tried but I don't think my soil is acidic enough. I'm going to do some more research this winter and try again in the spring.

    Christopher C. NC... How's come your grammar took a turn for the, uh, worse? You wouldn't be making a bit of fun of me? Regardless, you could definitely grow Fothergilla where you are.

    Ki... I would guess that maybe the soil isn't acidic enough and the leaves are showing some chlorosis? Try to acidify the soil and see if that helps (though mine aren't growing in very acidic soil).

    Me... I think these make a great low-maintenance hedge. Go for it!

    Pam/digging... Thanks for the additional info. I'm providing most of what this plant needs, except acidic soil, though maybe the soil is more acidic there than I realize?

    LostRoses... You'd like it if it would grow where you are. I know it is hardy to zone 5... not sure of your zone there in the mountains, or how acidic your soil is. But you could never go wrong hanging out in the shrub section of your local garden center!

    Leslie... The singluar "how come" seems to be more prevalent than the plural "hoosier" version.

    Annie in Austin... Your name indeed was mentioned!

    Lisa at Greenbow... Garden centers don't always carry this shrub. But you need to get you some!

    Sister with the Homestead... They might grow but I need to see how much more light you are really getting in that area.

    M Sinclair Stevens (Texas)... And there are plants all over your garden and blog that I can't have, either, so I guess we are even!

    Layanee... Love that you have it! Let's form a fan club for it and get more gardeners to plant it!

    Carolyn Gail... I bet these would be easy to sell in the fall in the garden center, with this kind of fall color. And thanks for the additional info on where "how come" or the hoosier version "how's come" came from.

    Robin's Nesting Place...Stay in Indiana long enough and you'll convert over to "how's come", too.

    Vonlafin... I wonder why they aren't sold more often, too. We ought to ask at our respective favorite garden centers!

    Robin(Bumblebee)...Sounds like you should come to Indiana to learn "proper English". I also think shrubs are under-appreciated!

    Earth Girl... How's come indeed! You need this shrub!

  20. I wanted to plant a dwarf fothergilla in my "fence" garden last spring; but the one I could find at the nursury had a $50 price tag. Too $$$. Then Annie in Austin & Carolyn both recommended it to me, so I'm going to look harder next year and try to find it more inexpensive (or wait until Fall...) But thanks for bringing this shrub up.

  21. Oh, sorry, Carol, I didn't quite catch the " How's come !" That's just plural isn't it for " How come?"

  22. Rosemarie... I didn't pay nearly that much for these shrubs! I'm sure if you look in the spring you'll find some more reasonably priced.

    Carolyn Gail... No apology needed. "How's come" isn't plural, its "hoosier"!

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  23. I think Pam/Digging has hit the mark on why I can't grow Fothergilla. My soil is too dry for them. I've tried, but I'm 0 for 4, so I guess I can give up.

  24. That is a very pretty shrub and it sounds like it is well behaved, as well. Thanks for suggesting it. How come I've never seen this at nurseries before? :-)

  25. I've got both dwarf fothergilla and the regular one (F. major). I actually had bought the dwarf two years ago and last spring the rabbits chewed it all the way to the ground. I was SO MAD. I thought for sure it was dead. I mean, there was NOTHING above the ground left. Well, it came back! Of course, it's small due to its stunted growth, but this winter we plan to put a barrier up and maybe next year it will get large enough that the darn rabbits will leave it alone.

    I bought the F. major this past spring as a replacement for the other one because I thought it was a goner, so now I have both of them!

    I use both "How's come?" and "How come?" but sometimes I'll catch myself and say "Why?" instead. How come I do that?

  26. Well, I'm a year late and a dollar short in commenting, but I love Fothergilla--I have the dwarf variety, and its bright orangy red leaves are beautiful this morning, even covered in a thin layer of frost.


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