Growing Leucothoe (Fetterbush)

Latin Name Pronunciation: lew-koe'-thoe-ee

In winter, the pointed, leathery leaves of this compact broadleaf evergreen shrub turn a shiny, burgundy red, adding much-needed color to the woodland garden. In spring, the branches are laden with drooping clusters of flowers similar to Lily-of-the-Valley. Leucothoe's arching growth habit is effective as a low hedge, in mass plantings, and in front of leggy plants. Clipped, it makes a nice ground cover. Deer resistant, too.

Light: Partial shade, but needs some sun for best winter color.

Soil: Average garden soil; becomes stressed in dry soil.

Watering: The key to getting your new shrub or tree off to a good start is moisture. Water thoroughly after planting, and keep a close eye on the plant over the following week. Then, give it a good soaking once a week during summer, unless rainfall is plentiful (more than 1in per week). Established plants can generally get by on less water, but most grow best if the soil remains evenly moist. Please note that more is not better. When in doubt, don't water.

Fertilizer: We recommend against fertilizing at planting time and during the first growing season in your garden. Plants need time to settle in before being pushed to grow. Most established plants grow best if fertilized with a light hand. Here at the Farm, we fertilize our specimen trees and shrubs just once -- in early spring -- with a light but even coverage of a balanced, granular fertilizer (such 5- 10-10, 10-10-10, or an organic fertilizer). If a concentrated, water-soluble fertilizer is used, please follow the manufacturers' recommendations carefully.

Continuing Care: Protect from drought and drying winds. Divide suckering species in spring to maintain size. Leaf spot, lace bug, scale, and mildew can be problems.

 

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