Read our guide to Leucothoe Axillaris for everything you’ll ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for Coast Leucothoe.
Are you looking for a beautiful shrub that will thrive in the shady areas of your garden? Look no further than Coast Leucothoe!
Leucothoe axillaris, commonly known as Coast Leucothoe or Coastal Dog Hobble, is a slow-growing weeping evergreen shrub very popular for its unique appearance. This plant is famous for its striking curling leaves that make it a fantastic year-long accent plant in every outdoor space.
In spring, Coast Leucothoe produces creamy white bell-shaped flowers that add texture and interest to this lovely shrub. The honey-like fragrance of the blooms acts like a magnet to beneficial pollinators like butterflies and bees. This attractive shrub will transform your garden into a space that’s filled with like and will make it look more alive than ever before.
Coast Leucothoe is unique for the seasonal outfits it has. The shrub is all bright green in early spring, gets some white texture in late spring and early summer, and shifts to shades of bronze and purple in autumn. This evergreen shrub is a spectacle of colours!
The best part about Coast Leucothoe is that it is an easy maintenance bush with just a few specific requirements for optimal growth and development.
Ready to learn more about growing and caring for Coast Leucothoe? Keep reading below!
About Coast Leucothoe
- Coast Leucothoe is native to the Southeastern United States, and it is part of the Leucothoe genus, a genus of about six species of flowering plants part of the Ericaceae family.
- The Leucothoe genus consists of 50 different species. The most popular species that belong to this genus include Leucothoe Davisiae, Leucothoe Fontensiana, Leucothoe Grayana, Leucothoe Griffithiana, Leucothoe Keiskei, Leucothoe Populifolia, Leucothoe Racemosa, Leucothoe Recurva, and Leucothoe Tonkinensis.
- Native to Madagascar, the United States, and Asia, Leucothoe plants are low maintenance and have attractive foliage.
- If you want to grow several types of Leucothoe, you can opt for Leucothoe ‘Rainbow’ which thrives in zones 4-8 and is can be over 1m (3-4 feet) tall, Leucothoe fontanesiana which grows best in zones 5-8 and rarely grows taller than 1m, and dwarf Leucothoe which is perfect for zones 5-8 and grows 40-60 cm tall.
- The botanical name of Coast Leucothoe is Leucothoe Axillaris. Other popular names for this evergreen shrub include Coastal Dog Hobble “Curly Red”, Swamp Dog-Laurel “Curly Red”, and Leucothoe “Curly Red”.
- Coast Leucothoe is an excellent addition to any outdoor space, being able to fulfil multiple purposes. More precisely, this evergreen shrub can work perfectly as a groundcover and for edging, banks and slopes, as well as containers. Since it is a shade-lover, Coast Leucothoe can help you cover all those shady areas of your outdoor space where nothing else would grow.
- Coast Leucothoe is a perfect suit for informal gardens, woodland gardens, rock gardens, slopes, bog gardens, and cottage gardens. Leucothoe can also be used as ground cover and to hide less-attractive areas of your garden.
- As mentioned, coast Leucothoe prefers to grow in partial to full shade. This is great news for gardeners who deal with shady areas where they can’t grow other beautiful plants. Your coast Leucothoe plants will actually appreciate the shade in your garden.
- In terms of soil preferences, coast Leucothoe grows best in humus-rich, loamy, and slightly acidic soil. However, these are the ideal conditions. This evergreen shrub can adapt to all types of soil, from neutral to fairly acidic. Make sure that the soil provides good drainage.
- When it comes to its water needs, coast Leucothoe requires regular watering. This plant is not drought-tolerant, so it needs some extra water during extremely hot and drought seasons.
- In terms of temperature and humidity, coast Leucothoe is not a plant that tolerates extreme temperature very well, neither hot nor cold. Your curly red Leucothoe might actually benefit from some protection from extreme cold and winds during the winter. During the hot season, it can benefit from some misting with a sprinkler to help it keep its leaves moist.
Coast Leucothoe Features: An Overview
- Coast Leucothoe, is an evergreen low-growing shrub that can grow up to 4-5 feet (140-150 cm) tall and 5-6 feet (150-180 cm) wide.
- This shrub features undivided, thick, shiny, and with a leathery appearance twisted leaves that change their colours depending on the seasons. As they mature the leaves start to change their colours from an orange-red colour to a dark green colour and then a scarlet-red shade during the fall, turning to purple during the winter.
- In spring, between April and May, Leucothoe plants produce white blooms that are followed by small, red berries.
- The blooms have a slight honey-like fragrance that attracts all sorts of pollinators.
- Leucothoe plants are deer-resistant and generally don’t experience severe damage from pests and disease. Common pests and disease problems of Leucothoe plants include lace bugs, leaf gall, powdery mildew, tar spot, and Anthracnose spots. These plants can sometimes be affected by leaf spot problems in very humid environments.
- Coast Leucothoe is toxic to people and pets. More precisely, the leaves and the nectar from the flower are poisonous. If ingested, these poisonous parts of Coast Leucothoe can lead to mild symptoms like salivation, nasal discharge, and sweating and more severe symptoms such as headache, depression, weakness, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, digestive issues, and even paralysis. So, make sure to plant your Coast Leucothoe out of your kids’ and pets’ reach and to handle it with caution.
Caring for coast Leucothoe isn’t a very difficult task. This evergreen shrub is relatively easy maintenance and only has a few specific ideal growing needs that you should know about. Once you learn how to care for it, this plant will reward you with its unique and dramatic appearance all year long.
First of all, you need to consider that coast Leucothoe is an ornamental plant that needs to be protected from direct sunlight. It is not a fan of extremely hot temperatures, so it needs protection from the sun’s burning rays. As a result, it is best to make sure that your Leucothoe grows in an area of your outdoor space where it can get full or partial shade.
You can help your Coast Leucothoe thrive by supporting its needs with some fertilizer. We recommend using a special Ericaceae fertilizer during the blooming season of spring to support the plant’s health and maintain the acidity of the soil.
Pruning needs are minimal for this evergreen shrub. In fact, no routine pruning is necessary. The only pruning task you need to perform to help your plant remain healthy and happy is to remove any diseased, damaged, congested or crossing shoots.
Planting Leucothoe is quite easy. There are a few things to consider in terms of soil, location, and light to ensure optimal results after planting.
More precisely, when choosing a place to plant your Leucothoe shrub, there are two critical factors you should consider. First of all, remember that this evergreen shrub prefers partial to full shade. So, choose a shady area of your garden, especially if you live in an area with very hot summers. The harsh afternoon sun can severely damage your plant.
Secondly, keep in mind that Coast Leucothoe doesn’t survive very cold temperatures or winter winds. So, it would help to plant it near a structure that would protect it from the harsh weather conditions during the cold season.
Another essential aspect to consider is that coast Leucothoe prefers slightly acidic soil that also provides excellent drainage. When preparing the soil for planting your Coast Leucothoe, you can add materials that helps improve moisture retention and improve drainage, be it peat moss, composted manure, or a bit of sand.
To prevent dessiccation and weeds, it’s recommended to apply a later of mulch at the base of your plants. You can apply a layer of organic matter or bark.
The best companion plants for Leucothoe are usually any shade-loving ornamentals that thrive in similar climates. Some of our favourites are Hosta, Hakonechloa, Common Boxwood, Variegated Boxwood, Ilex shrubs, Yew trees, Rhododendron shrubs, Creeping Jenny, and Euonymus.
Watering your coast Leucothoe will require a bit more attention than it would with other plants. More precisely, coast Leucothoe needs regular watering to thrive and it prefers to have plenty of moisture on its leaves. However, this plant can be quite sensitive to wet feet, so overwatering can be a problem.
As mentioned above, keep in mind that this evergreen shrub is not drought-tolerant and will not survive periods of drought, not even short ones. During the hot seasons, make sure to pay attention to its looks and soil and add extra water if necessary.
When your coast Leucothoe starts blooming, which usually occurs during spring, make sure to water the plant deeply at the base so that the flowers get enough moisture to develop properly.
To make sure that you don’t underwater or overwater your Coast Leucothoe, look at the first few inches of the soil and if they seem dry, add some water. Avoid keeping your Coast Leucothoe in soggy soil.
The fastest and most effective propagation method for this lovely evergreen shrub is via cuttings. For best results, take the cuttings in early summer and dip them in a rooting hormone. The cuttings should be half-ripe and approximately 5 to 10 cm long (2-4 inches). Then plant them in a loose potting medium. For about 10 to 12 weeks, keep the new plants in a warm location but not in direct sun. Make sure that the soil is kept moist and mist the leaves regularly. After this period, your cuttings have developed roots and are ready to be planted outdoors.
Propagating Leucothoe via seeds is a common practice. If you want to give it a try, start by sowing the seeds in late winter in partial shade. The ideal conditions for the freshly sown seeds are those similar to a greenhouse. The seeds will show the best results when kept in partial shade. It is also recommended to cover the seeds and to keep the soil moist during the germination process. Once you start to notice growth and the seedlings are robust, you can replant them in separate pots. During their first season, the new plants need protection from extreme temperatures and harsh weather, so it might be best to keep them indoors or inside a greenhouse. The one-year-old plants can be transferred to the garden in late spring, in a location with partial shade.
Leucothoe Pests and Diseases
This plant is rarely affected by pests and diseases. However, some growers may deal with scale insects, powdery midlew, leaf gall, Anthracnose spot, and tar spot. Plants that grow in very humid environments are more susceptible to these problems, including leaf spot disease.
Powdery mildew is a common issue among gardeners. This fungal disease spreads rapidly among plants, but is rarely lethal. Perennial trees and shrubs often fall victim of podwery mildew, but when spotted from an early stage can easily be treated. Learn more about treating this common plant problem from our complete guide to powdery mildew.
Leucothoe Axillaris a.k.a coast Leucothoe is a fantastic plant to have in your outdoor space. It is a true beauty that will add a lot of drama to your outdoor space thanks to its unique appearance as the seasons change. You can never get bored with Leucothoe shrubs as they will always surprise you with their foliage. Growing Coast Leucothoe in your garden will also benefit your other plants as this shrub is really attractive to pollinators like bees and butterflies.
Coast Leucothoe is an easy maintenance plant. So, you will not have too much work to do to keep it happy, healthy, and thriving. As long as you respect this shrub’s light, soil, and water requirements, it will make a fantastic addition to the shaded areas of your outdoor space.
Are you growing Leucothoe shrubs in your garden? Share your experience in the comment section!