Dwarf Witch Alder

Choosing a shrub can be difficult. It is best to choose a plant that will be allowed to grow and will not need routine pruning.  Most shrubs are picked for their color, shape, size, or another attribute.  However, they are often put in the wrong place.  Shrubs should be allowed to grow with out having to be pruned to stay within a set size parameter.  Choosing the right shrub will help prevent the, “Oh, I forgot to trim it this year” syndrome that leads to a hard prune that ends up either disfiguring the plant or killing it outright.

Fothergilla x intermedia ‘Blue Shadow’ was borne out of a cross between two native American species F. major that grows 6′ to 10′ tall and F. gardenia that grows 2′ to 3′ tall.  The results was an intermediate growing shrub that at maturity only reaches maybe 6′ tall and wide.  This makes it an ideal compact plant for small spaces.

A few outstanding features that comes with this plant is the foliage and flowers.  Mid-April white-honey scented blooms will adorn the plant much like ornaments on a Christmas tree.  Following bloom leaves will unfurl green and take on a blue-waxy tone that offers summer interest.  In the fall the foliage will turn a golden yellow before falling off.

Overall the shrub has little issues except for rabbits and voles.  This plant will need protection as it is growing to prevent rodents from nibbling on the bark and twigs and setting back the plant.  During wet summers there could be some minor leaf spots but nothing too serious that needs treatment.

So if you are in the market this year for a small shrub you may want to check out this plant.


Scott Evans
Scott Evans is a horticulture assistant with Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties. A certified arborist through International Society of Arboirculture and Nebraska Arborist Association. Scott is also Tree Risk Assessment Qualified through ISA. Scott co-leads the Master Gardener program in Douglas & Sarpy counties. Along with volunteer management he provides his expertise with disease and insect identification, lawn and landscape weed management, plant health, and I.P.M. practices. He also enjoys growing many houseplants ranging from African violets to cacti and succulents. Scott has two Bachelors of Science, one in Biology (emphasis in Botany, Ecology and Environmental Science) and second in Environmental Geology from Northwest Missouri State University. He earned his Master of Agriculture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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