Fothergilla Companion Plants

Everything about Fothergilla is unique and interesting, making this deciduous shrub a welcome addition and natural focal point to any landscape. The bottlebrush flowers of this shrub appear in the spring before the leaves even emerge. The upright branches are covered in leaves when the flowers fade, and in the fall, the foliage turns vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. Fothergilla is a stunning shrub that enjoys full sun and resists deer and diseases.  It is cold hardy and grows well in zones 4 through 8.

Create a vibrant foundation planting or conceal a fence with a row of fothergilla. Plants that require full sun or can live in the shade created by this tall shrub make excellent companions.


Photo by K M, cropped, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Shrubs To Plant With Fothergilla

Enjoy four seasons of interest with the ninebark shrub. Spring-time flowers bloom in clusters around the same time fothergilla blooms. The peeling bark is fully displayed in winter after the colorful leaves fall away. Both Fothergilla and Ninebark stand about the same height, so feature them side-by-side or on the same plane so they work together instead of competing. Witch hazel is an interesting companion to fothergilla because it has the same unique trait of blooming in the spring before the leaves fill in.

Mountain laurel and azalea are spring-blooming shrubs that make a big impact on their own but put on a truly spectacular display when planted with fothergilla. Azaleas can handle full sun, but they prefer partial sun. Fothergilla makes a wonderful neighbor because during the spring, the bare branches will allow azalea to receive higher light levels. Once the leaves sprout, the fothergilla will provide more shade and protect the azalea from the intense summer sun.

Create a more subdued landscape by planting fothergilla with plum yew. The coniferous bush creates a dependable background of greenery, allowing the fothergilla to stand out. The conical form and thin needles of yew provide excellent contrast to the rounded habit and leaves of the fothergilla.  

Perennials To Plant With Fothergilla

Mature fothergilla can reach up to 10 feet tall, depending on the variety. Tall shrubs create shade, making low-light perennials, like hosta and coral bells, complementary plants. These leafy perennials thrive with limited light and fill the area around the bush's base, creating a dense and textured planting.

Consider planting daffodils if the space around the fothergilla is more sunny. These bulbs grow in zones 3 through 8, and the flowers coincide with the fothergilla’s blooming schedule.


Photo by Andrey Zharkikh, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Annuals To Plant With Fothergilla

Annuals are a great way to add color without a long-term commitment. While fothergilla puts on an impressive display, feature low-growing annuals like petunias and impatiens along the base of the shrub. These annuals introduce color and make the space feel more vibrant at a time when the fothergilla is more low-key.

Best Companion Plants For Fothergilla in Containers

Creeping phlox partners well in a container with fothergilla. This ground cover will cascade over the planter's edge and attract pollinators. The reaching stems of calibrachoa make this a wonderful container companion, and it takes on the spiller role when coupled with fothergilla. The continuous flowers of the calibrachoa will provide interest after the fothergilla is done blooming but before the leaves turn their autumnal colors.

Plants Not To Grow With Fothergilla

While fothergilla is excellent at blocking sunlight for smaller plants, it does not like to be on the receiving end of shade. Do not plant fothergilla close to tall trees, like oaks or pines, that will block sunlight. While this shrub has moderate water needs, it cannot survive in overly damp conditions, like lobelia, ostrich fern, and Joe pye weed.

Best Plants To Grow With Fothergilla

The fothergilla introduces texture and color throughout the growing season and is an excellent companion for azalea, ninebark, hosta, phlox, and daffodils. Take care to organize a mixed bed so each plant receives the proper amount of light. Since this shrub has excellent fall color, plant it among other fall foliage plants like witch hazel, gingko and oakleaf hydrangea for a dramatic late-season display.

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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 10-12-2023