Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Leucothoe

Members of the Erica family and closely related to the Pieris; the Leucothoes prefer shade to partial shade and cool, acidic, fertile, light, well drained soil with a deep organic mulch. Insect pests and disease are rare, other than the occasional leaf spot on some. The only pruning needed is the occasional removal of older stalks that have lost their vigor - to make room for more vigorous growth.
As for plants that are overgrown or damaged under heavy snowfall; cut them back to about 6 inches from the ground during early March and they should resprout vigorously. You will loose the blooms for the year ( many species are grown for the foliage anyway ) in this case however you will also have a decent looking plant by the middle of summer.
Propagation is generally from half hardened cuttings as well as layering. Seed propagation tends to be slow.
The Leucothoe is NOT eaten by deer.

* photo taken on Aug 18 2011 in Columbia, MD


Leucothoe axilliaris ( Coast Leucothoe )
An evergreen native to the southeast U.S. ( Louiaiana to coastal Virginia; south to central Florida ) reaching up to 4 x 8 feet in height though some grow to as much as 7 x 10 feet in size. Fast growing; the fastest growth rate recorded is 4 feet.
The shiny deep green foliage is up to 6 x 2 inches in size and is ovate, sharply pointed and toothed near the leaf tips. The foliage is paler in color on the undersides and the leaves turn an attractive deep burgundy-red in fall and winter.
The tiny urn shape white flowers are in racemes up to 3 inches long that appear in early spring.
Hardy from zone 4 to 8; in sheltered locations it can tolerate temperatures as low as -27 F without leaf burn. It is hardy in the Midwest and can survive as far north in Canada as Montreal with occasional winter dieback. Unfortunately it is prone to leaf spot and in hotter more humid parts of the Deep South Leucothoe populifolia would be a better choice. Leaf spot is generally more prevalent on plants that are under stress. Other insect or disease problems are rare.

* In front of Aucubas in these May 2009 Clarksville, MD photos




* photo taken on annual Horticultural Society of Maryland Garden Tour



* photo taken on October 15 2010 in Howard Co., MD

* previously massive overgrown decades old plant just one growing season after cutting to ground

* photos taken on May 4 2016 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Feb 28 2017 in Columbia, MD


'Greensprite'
Reaching up to 6 x 10 feet in size with foliage which remains lush green all year rather than reddening in the fall and winter. It is also resistant to leaf spot.

* photos taken on Sep 9 2014 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on June 20 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on June 20 2016 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Apr 27 2017 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on June 3 2017 in Columbia, MD


'Margie Jenkins'
Similar to species but leaf spot resistant.

* photo taken on July 7 2016 in Elkridge, MD


'Red Robin'
Striking burgundy red new foliage.

Leucothoe davisiae ( Sierra Leucothoe )
An evergreen native to the mountain woodlands of California reaching up to 6 x 7 ( often under 2 ) feet on moist to wet peaty acid soil where it forms extensive colonies. It makes a great large scele groundcover.
The deeply-veineed, leathery, very glossy green leaves, up to 3 x 1 inches in size, have sparsely toothed edges.
The small white urn shaped flowers are borne in erect terminal racemes up to 6 inches in length.
Hardy zones 5 to 8 but does not enjoy the hot humid summers in much of the eastern U.S. It requires partial shade.

Leucothoe fontanesiana ( Drooping Leucothoe )
An evergreen shrub with arching stems native to the southeast U.S ( from eastern Kentucky to central Virginia; south to northeast Alabama to central Georgia to central South Carolina ). It is endangered in Kentucky and Virginia. It typically reaches up to 4 x 6 feet in 10 years, though can reach up to 6 x 10 feet with great age. Some records include: 4 years - 5 feet; largest on record - 8 x 13 feet.
The toothed, pointed, oval leaves are up to 7 x 1.5 ( rarely to 12 x 2.5 ) inches in size. The foliage is glossy deep green. The winter color on wild plants is variable from green to wine purple.
The urn-shaped, white flowers are borne on racemes up to 3 inches in length, during spring. They resemble the Lily of the Valley in appearance.
Hardy zones 4 to 7 preferring acidic, moist, sandy soil. In zone 7 it often grows poorly in lowland areas with hot humid summers - use Leucothoe populifolia instead in the Deep South. Hardy in Canada to as far north as Montreal. Not tolerant of drought and prefers a sheltered partially shaded location.
Old overgrown or spindly plants can be cut back to groundlevel during early spring and they will regenerate rapidly.
Leaf spot can be a problem at times, especially on plants that are stressed or on hot sunny sites.

'Rainbow'
Also called 'Girard's Rainbow'. Smaller in size, reaching up to 4 x 6 feet in 10 years, though it is known to grow to as much as 4 feet in a year after being cut back.
The reddish new growth turns green and heavily variegated with yellow and some pink.


* photos taken on Aug 18 2011 in Columbia, MD



* photos taken on May 15 2014 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on July 23 2014 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on on Aug 23 2014 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on May 12 2015 in Columbia, MD


'Rogers Burgundy'
Very vigorous with foliage turning intense deep burgundy in color in the fall and winter.

'Rollissonii'

* photos taken on Mar 18 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD


'Scarletta'
Similar in size. The very beautiful foliage is glossy red during spring turning shiny dark green in the summer then intense glossy burgundy red in the winter. It is unfortunately prone to leafspot fungus in some locations.

* photos taken on Nov 10 2014 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on May 4 2017 in Columbia, MD


'Whitewater'
Arching in habit, reaching up to 3 x 6 feet in size, with foliage that is variegated with a bold creamy-white margin. The foliage variegations turns pink during winter.

* photo taken by Milan Havlis, owner of central Europe's premier plant nursery

* photo taken on Apr 1 2014 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on July 15 2015 in Columbia, MD


Leucothoe greyana ( Gray's Leucothoe )
A vigorous, dense, semi-evergreen shrub, reaching up to 8 x 8 ( rarely over 4 ) feet in height. It is native to rock talus and woodland edge in high mountains of northern and central Japan.
Its rough, oval leaves are up to 6 ( rarely over 3.5 ) inches in length. The glossy deep green foliage turns plum-red during autumn and winter.
The white flowers are borne on racemes up to 4 inches in length, during mid-summer.
Hardy zones 6 to 9.

Leucothoe keiskei
A moderate growing, evergreen shrub, reaching up to 5 x 6 ( often under 2.5 ) feet in size, that is native to Japan.
The shallowly-toothed, long-tipped, oval leaves are up to 6 ( rarely over 4 ) inches in length. They are red at first turning to bright green, then to deep crimson during the fall and winter.
The white flowers are borne on racemes, up to 2.5 inches in length, during early summer. The flowers are larger than those of other Leucothoes.
Hardy zones 5 to 9.

'Royal Ruby'
Burgundy red leaves.

* photo taken by Milan Havlis, owner of central Europe's premier plant nursery


Leucothoe populifolia ( Florida Leucothoe )

Also known as Agarista populifolia. A dense, vase-shaped large shrub or small weeping tree native to acid swamps in the southeastern U.S. ( from far southeast North Carolina to central Florida ) that can reach up to 10 feet or sometimes 23 x 10 feet with trunk diameters of 3 inches. Fast growing with the record recorded growth rate being 6 feet. It is arching in habit and its suckering habit may eliminate it from some areas while also making it an excellent choice for sites such as stream banks.
With pruning it can easily be kept smaller than its natural size.
The lance-shaped leaves are up to 4 x 1.6 inches in size. Its evergreen foliage is reddish-green at first, turning to rich glossy deep green for the remainder of the year. It is the best Leucothoe for the Deep South being that it is both extremely beautiful as well as being much less prone to leaf spot fungus that can plague L. fontanesia. It looks awesome planted in shade gardens along with Rhodos and Kalmia.
The abundant, fragrant, white flowers are borne on dense clusters during late spring.
The slightly peeling bark is reddish-brown.
Hardy zones 6 to 9 with no damage whatsoever down to -5 F or more.
Preferring shade; this Leucothoe is very tough and can withstand harsh conditions better than other Leucothoes. Overgrown or older plants loosing their vigor, can be cut to ground during late winter.

* photo taken on March 28 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on May 6 2010 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photo taken on Aug 20 2011 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photos taken on Mar 8 2013 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photos taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

* photo taken on Apr 17 2016 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photos taken on Apr 17 2016 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC


Leucothoe racemosa ( Fetter Bush )
A very fast growing, deciduous to semi-evergreen shrub, reaching up to 13 x 12 feet, that is native to the eastern U.S. ( from eastern Texas to Tennessee to Massachusetts; south to the Gulf Coast to central Florida ). Some records include: fastest growth rate - 9 feet.
The alternately-arranged, finely-toothed leaves are up to 3 x 1.5 inches in size. They are bright green and often turn intense scarlet-red before dropping in the fall.
The white to whitish-pink flowers, up to 0.5 inches in length, appear in racemes, up to 4 inches in length, during late spring.
Hardy zones 5 to 9. Very flood tolerant as well as tolerating dry shade.

* photo taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

'Rubra'
Pink flowering form

Leucothoe recurva ( Red Twig Leucothoe )
Also called Eubotrys recurva. A deciduous shrub up to 13 feet in height that is native to the southeast U.S. ( from eastern Kentucky to southern West Virginia; south to far northern Georgia to western South Carolina ). It is endangered in Kentucky, West Virginia and Georgia.
The pointed lance shape leaves are up to 4 x 1.3 inches in size and have toothed edges. They are green and redden somewhat during autumn.
The small white flowers are in racemes that appear in the spring.
The first year growth is red stemmed which intensifies in the winter after the leaves have fallen.
Hardy zones 6 to 9.

* historic archive photo

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