Leucothoe racemosa
Common Name: fetter bush
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Ericaceae
Native Range: Eastern United States
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Good Fall
Tolerate: Erosion

Culture

Grow in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils in part shade. Prefers a moist, cool, acidic soil. Can be grown in full sun, but must have good moisture. Does not tolerate drought or windy conditions. Although winter hardy to Zone 5, this shrub should be planted in a protected location and given a good winter mulch in the St. Louis area to insure winter survival. Suckers to form colonies.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Leucothoe racemosa, commonly called fetter bush or sweetbells leucothoe, is a deciduous suckering shrub that is native to damp woodland soils along streambanks, pond peripheries and swamps from Massachusetts to Florida to Louisiana. It typically grows to 3-8' tall and bears fragrant, bell-shaped, white flowers (to 1/3") in racemes (to 4" long) in spring and summer. Flowers bloom in May-June. Flowers are followed by inconspicuous fruits (5-parted light brown capsules). Pointed, oblong to elliptic, glossy green leaves (to 2.5" long) have serrate margins. Leaves turn attractive shades of yellow, orange and red in fall.

Genus name honors Leucothoe, one of the many loves of Apollo.

Specific epithet means with flowers in racemes.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Root rot and leaf spot.

Garden Uses

Small shrub for rock garden, on slopes, bank stabilizer, border, foundations or underplanting for larger shrubs.