Fothergilla Mt Airy

If I had to choose the most disappointing plant in my garden right now, it would be Fothergilla Mt Airy. I have had two of these shrubs in the ground for four years now and while their features in isolation are killer, they haven’t matured to a level I would have expected by now.

Issue #1 – While I see them marketed as “deer resistant”, both of mine are consistently nibbled throughout the seasons. They’ve never been hit hard, but the nibbling has prevented them from growing much taller than 30 inches tall.

Issue #2 – While I’m sure this is related to issue #1, I’ve had very sporadic blooming in spring. To the point that I barely even notice the white bottlebrush blooms. It’s a shame because the blooms are beautiful and fragrant (which of course is a relative term to this sufferer of a deviated septum).

Both of my Fothergilla Mt Airy are situated in a partially shaded location and I’m contemplating moving one in spring to a more full sun area that would also be (fingers crossed) protected from the deer.

It’s all about experimentation with gardening, but I’ve got all winter to plan the move.

Here is the foliage color somewhere around the end of September.

fothergilla mt airy

fothergilla mt airy

Fantastic but damn if it couldn’t have an even bigger impact at 4 to 5 feet tall and wide.

Here are two photos of Fothergilla Mt Airy current day. The foliage color is a more consistent orange but still a presence.



Late April/early May is when I’ve seen the first signs of bloom. The photos below, taken over the course of the past few springs, only show you the good. The bare branches have been successfully removed from sight.

Still, nice enough.

fothergilla mt airy

fothergilla mt airy


I have no intention of giving up on Fothergilla Mt Airy and hope to create a full blown post dedicated to this native shrub next year.

As always, your feedback and advice would be greatly appreciated.


12 thoughts on “Fothergilla Mt Airy

  1. Kimberly Thomas

    I went through similar troubles with Weigelia, Oak Leaf Hydrangea, Forsythia & Sweet Shrub and got frustrated enough to cover them in that horrible mesh. It’s a pain in the ass but after 1 or 2 seasons depending on the plant, I got enough growth that they could hold their own and I spent an hour or so per plant cutting and cussing to get it out but this is my first year with all of those that I’ve been able to enjoy blooms and/or fall color so it’s worth it. Of course I still keep gallons of Liquid Fence on hand 😉

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      I so need to do the same Kim but know I will never follow through. I have lots of Liquid Fence too and it works, as long as I remember to re-apply post rain.

  2. Kim

    I had this at our old house, and it was one of my favorite fragrances in the spring. I believe I got mine from Bluestone Perennials years back, but I’ve since been unable to find it there or anywhere else now, so we don’t have one at our new house. I miss it. Our old one didn’t get as big as I would have liked, but it did make it to about five feet tall and wide after several seasons on the NE part of the house with morning sun.

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Kim – I’ll take 5 x 5 and I’m hoping it will get there if I can fend the deer off and allow it to establish itself even further. Thanks for the feedback!

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Monica – I need to search the archives for foliage pics but will see what I have. I’ve never fertilized but need to look into some sort of feeding as a potential boost.

      1. Monica

        Well, that answers those questions. Deer seem to like things that are high in protein and have an extraordinary ability to know what plants have it. They’re able to know at what stage in growth a plant is higher in it too. I watched this on my dads farm. As an old school rule of thumb, plants that are greener, have young foliage, and during certain times of the day can be higher in proteins, hence making them more attractive to unwanted pests. In your case, deer seem to be it. I guess better than snakes. Using fertilizers that are higher in nitrogen over prolonged periods of time, or the use of immature compost, especially with manures, can lead to pest issues too. All things, I’m sure your aware of. Good Luck with the deer. At least they’re not as terrifying as snakes.

        1. jmarkowski Post author

          I’ll take the snakes, I think. I had no idea about the protein deal, I need to read up on this more. Thanks for the info!!

  3. Rudie

    I grew Fothergilla in my garden when I still lived at home, and it did great in full sun. That might be your issue, other than the deer. It grew pretty quickly, and got to about 3 to 4′ in 2 seasons

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Rudie – I’m leaning more and more towards putting one in full sun and now I’m just about convinced. Thanks!

  4. Josh

    I have three ‘Blue Shadows’ which is supposedly a sport of Mt Airy in my back yard in central NC. They are facing west, so full sun. Great blue color on the leaves, nice blooms, but the fall color was ratty this year, maybe it was the drought and heat. But they’ve only been in the ground one year now so we’ll see what next year brings.

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Josh – I need to check these out. Have any pics? I’m a sucker for any shade of blue foliage.

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