Mt. Airy Fothergilla or witch alder is the gold standard for all Fothergillas. Michael Dirr selected it from Mt. Airy Arboretum 30 years ago and no other Fothergilla has appreciated like Mt. Airy - it stands the test of time.
White, 2" tall, bottlebrush-style flowers blanket Mt. Airy from top to bottom. It's covered in these cute, tiny bottlebrushes for a fairly long time - 3 to 4 weeks - in spring.
The term "kaleidoscopic fall color" is a bit hackneyed, but truthfully, I can't come up with a better term. Rather, I'll emphasize it and claim that fall color is extraordinarily kaleidoscopic.
It's unpredictably kaleidoscopic too. One year you might find red, orange, and yellow on the same shrub; other years the entire shrub might be red, orange, or yellow. More like a mood ring than a kaleidoscope? Any color, it's reliable for excellent fall color.
Thanks to Mike Dirr for the pictures.
Mt. Airy fothergilla, fothergilla, witch alder
Mount Airy Fothergilla
USDA Hardiness Zones
flowering shrub, deciduous
- Spring: blue-green
- Summer: blue-green
- Fall: red, yellow, orange
Fall Leaf Color Quality
Soil Moisture Requirements
average garden soil, moist-but-draining, no standing water
Soil pH Requirements
acid to neutral
full sun, part shade
To Make It Thrive
Fothergillas must have acid soils; avoid high pH (alkaline) conditions. For best head-to-toe flowering, make sure it gets at least half a day of sun, even in the Deep South (where morning sun would be best). Moist soils that are well-drained are a must. Avoid areas that puddle. Mulch well, especially when planted in landscape settings. This is a woodland lover, but I see it thriving in home landscapes that receive modest irrigation during a drought.