Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’

witch alder

  • © Briggs Plant Propagators

Outstanding Qualities

Fothergilla 'Mount Airy' is most appreciated for its multicolored display of yellows, oranges, and reds in autumn. In spring and summer its foliage is deep blue green. The medium-sized leaves resemble those of witchhazel and clothe this deciduous shrub nearly to the ground. Flowers are borne in April and early May and have a faint honey scent. The small, individual white flowers are held in 1- to 2-inch-high bottlebrush-like spikes. The multiple-stemmed rounded habit of Fothergilla 'Mount Airy' makes it an excellent plant for the shrub border and an effective complement to broadleaf evergreens and early spring bulbs. This clone was brought to public attention by horticulturist Michael Dirr, who spotted it at the Mount Airy Arboretum in Cincinnati, Ohio. He selected it for consistently good fall color, prolific flowering, and vigorous growth. Once thought to be a hybrid, Dirr now feels it is a selection of Fothergilla major.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: shrub

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 6 ft. 0 in. (1.83 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 5 ft. 0 in. (1.52 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 6 ft. 0 in. (1.83 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 0 ft. 0 in. (0.00 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 8

Flower Color: white

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun to light or open shade

Water Requirements: regular summer watering during dry weather

Seasonal Interest: autumn color

Wildlife Associations: bees, butterflies

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: orange, purple, chartreuse

Great Color Partners: blue, dark green, cream

Culture Notes
Fothergilla gardenii grows well in full sun to light or open shade. In more sun the fall color is more brilliant. Provide regular summer watering during dry weather to keep it looking its best. Little pruning is needed to keep it looking good. Occasionally, older twiggy stems can be cut to the ground to make way for fresh new growth and to keep it slightly smaller in size.