The Fothergilla Gardenii (Dwarf Fothergilla) Full Care Guide

The Dwarf Fothergilla, otherwise known as the Fothergilla Gardenii or Coastal Fothergilla, Dwarf Alder, Witch Alder, is a somewhat well known shrub plant native to the the Southeast of the United States.

Best known for its low maintenance and slow growth, this shrub will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its blue-green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, taking care of your Dwarf Fothergilla is not too difficult – as long as you follow our guidelines in this Dwarf Fothergilla Care Guide. Now let’s get started.

In order to take proper care of your Dwarf Fothergilla you’ll need to keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Water: The Dwarf Fothergilla grows best with regular watering to keep the soil moist during the dry season. Reduce watering once the plant is established.
  • Light: Keep your Fothergilla Gardenii in an environment where it can receive partial to full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Dwarf Fothergilla in soil with moist but well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand, loam, and clay.

And as with many other plants, these are the only three care factors you need to remember to make sure your Dwarf Fothergilla is, for the most part, healthy and well to survive.

Fothergilla gardenii (Dwarf Fothergilla) Plant

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Dwarf Fothergilla belongs to the Hamamelidaceae family, the genus Fothergilla and the species Gardenii, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Fothergilla Gardenii (foth-er-GIL-a gar-DE-ne-i).

As with other Fothergilla’s, the Dwarf Fothergilla is a deciduous plant, which means it will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.

Growing Region

The Dwarf Fothergilla is a plant native to the coastal plains o souther US.. This is why the Fothergilla Gardenii is used to growing in specific regions such as the states in the Southeast of the United States.

Knowing your plant’s native region is very useful, as it can give you tips on which environment is best for your Dwarf Fothergilla. If you keep it in mind, you can try to replicate these conditions at home, and you’ll likely end with a healthier plant.

With this in mind, the Fothergilla Gardenii will be most used to the heat zones in the 1 – 9 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a and the ideal climate zone is between 2, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Dwarf Fothergilla is a relatively slow grower, which makes things easy for any plant enthusiast.


But, what size of Dwarf Fothergilla are we talking about? What can you expect in terms of height, spread and spacing? Let’s dig in…

The Fothergilla Gardenii can grow up to 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm) in 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm) and 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm) in 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm). 

These dimensions make the Dwarf Fothergilla a relatively medium shrub compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful rounded shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 36″ (90cm) free so the Dwarf Fothergilla can spread to its best extent.


In terms of watering, the Dwarf Fothergilla is a fairly complicated plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Fothergilla Gardenii grows best with regular watering to keep the soil moist during the dry season. Reduce watering once the plant is established.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

Fothergilla gardenii (Dwarf Fothergilla) Leaves


As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Dwarf Fothergilla in soil with moist but well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage, occasional flooding, and occasionally wet properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

But, if you want a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to watering your Dwarf Fothergilla then you should consider the famous ‘finger’ test. To perform this test, you just need to put your finger in your plant’s soil and determine if it’s moist or not. If it is, then don’t water; if it isn’t, then please do. In any case, this test will allow you to know if your Dwarf Fothergilla needs or does not need water, every time.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Dwarf Fothergilla prefers to have soil with good drainage, occasional flooding, and occasionally wet properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of sand, loam, and clay.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably acid soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Dwarf Fothergilla requires partial to full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this shrub will do well as long as you keep it in partial to full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Fothergilla Gardenii in from little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to dappled or moderate shade (under other plant’s canopy), to full and direct sun (more than 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


Being a deciduous plant, the Dwarf Fothergilla will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), and during the fall.


You can expect your Dwarf Fothergilla to flower around the spring months from April to June (spring).

In particular, this shrub is well known for its fragrant and showy flowers around the plant enthusiast community.

The Dwarf Fothergilla produces some beautiful white, or white flowers around this time of year.

Fothergilla gardenii (Dwarf Fothergilla) Flower


The leaves from the Dwarf Fothergilla have a beautiful blue-green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement with an alternate organization in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Fothergilla Gardenii to be around (1-3 inches) in size.


How should you then organize your garden to include your new Dwarf Fothergilla? Here are some recommendations by expert gardeners.

Most Fothergilla Gardenii owners agree that this shrub will look great in most cottage and rustic gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of informal and cottage, and in traditional garden styles. 

In particular, the Dwarf Fothergilla’s best location within your garden is in small gardens; others use it for landscaping in a hedge, wildlife garden, border, very wet areas, or a woodland garden.

Companion Plants

Dwarf Fothergilla’s do well with some other plants beside it. One good companion plant is the Hamamelis, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.

Others consider that a nice Callicarpa will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!


So that’s it! These are the main plant care requirements that you need to keep in mind in order to have a healthy Dwarf Fothergilla in your garden or home.

Sebastian Moncada

I’m also a plant enthusiast and researcher. I’ve been privileged to have lived my whole life around the wilderness of Colombia and I’m happy to share everything I learn along the way. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” – Emerson.

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