Watering Fothergilla

Fothergilla is a genus of shrubs that are popular for their spectacular flowers in spring and brilliant foliage in fall. These plants are native to the southeastern United States, where they grow naturally in habitats ranging from forest edges, coastal regions, and wetlands.  Well-drained, moist soils are best for fothergilla to thrive. Dwarf fothergilla, F. gardenii, typically tolerates wet soils better than large fothergilla, F. major. Both species of fothergilla require a consistent watering schedule to ensure that the soil is sufficiently moist, especially during dry periods. With close attention to watering and precipitation, your fothergilla will remain a healthy, vigorous shrub. 


How To Tell If Fothergilla Needs Watered

Fothergilla will need to be watered if it shows signs of drought stress, such as yellow or dry, brown leaves. Feel the top 1-2 inches of the soil. If it feels dry and no precipitation is expected soon, it is time to water your fothergilla. These plants do not need water when rainfall is abundant.

How Often To Water Fothergilla

Newly planted fothergilla will need to be watered often to establish healthy roots. Deeply water the shrub immediately after planting. Provide a couple of inches of water each week throughout the first growing season. Depending on weather and soil conditions, young fothergilla should be watered about 1-3 times per week to keep the soil sufficiently moist. Be sure that your fothergilla is planted in well-drained soil that is free of heavy clay particles to prevent overwatering. Amending the soil with organic matter at planting time will improve soil drainage. 

Once fothergilla is established, it may only need to be watered during periods of dry, hot weather. These shrubs, particularly Fothergilla major and its hybrids, do not tolerate lengthy dry spells or severe waterlogged soils. Fothergilla growing in full sun will need to be watered more frequently than fothergilla growing in part shade, especially in regions that experience dry, warm summers. These plants should also be watered after applying fertilizer. Because it is relatively shallow-rooted, fothergilla should be mulched to conserve soil moisture. 

Fothergilla growing in pots will need to be watered more often than fothergilla growing in the ground. Water the shrub until the soil is completely moist, and empty any water that collects in the drainage tray. Give the soil time to dry out before watering again, but do not leave the soil dry for extended periods of time. 

Best Time To Water Fothergilla

The best time of day to water fothergilla is in the morning. This allows the shrub to adequately take up water while temperatures are still cool. Fothergilla benefits from watering during the active growing season of spring through fall. Fothergilla will not need to be watered as often in the winter when it is dormant. Water the plant deeply in late fall to prepare it for winter. 

How to Water Fothergilla

Step 1 -  Apply water. 

Using a hose, water the fothergilla evenly around the root system until the top several inches of soil are thoroughly moist. Alternatively, install soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems to save water and time, and distribute the water directly to the root system. Be sure to turn off the irrigation system when precipitation is expected.

Step 2 - Add mulch.  

Mulching helps to regulate soil moisture and reduce the effects of drought stress. Evenly spread 2-3 inches of mulch around the root zone of the shrub. To prevent rot, avoid piling mulch against the trunk of the plant.

Fothergilla Watering Tips

  • Water fothergilla in the morning and during drought periods
  • Apply 2-3 inches of mulch to conserve soil moisture 
  • Water newly planted fothergilla 1-3 times per week until established
  • Soil rich in organic matter can help prevent waterlogging