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March Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Coastal Leucothoe

One of the most unusual flowering shrubs in our garden is the Coastal Leucothoe. Also known as Dog Hobble, Leucothoe axillaris is native to the Southeastern United States. Racemes of fragrant white blooms resembling Lily of the Valley dangle from arching branches in early Spring. Leucothoe usually blooms for us in April, but this year Coastal Leucothoe began blooming in March.

Coastal Dog Hobble is lovely on the banks of a creek or pond, especially when massed, if you are fortunate enough to have water on your property. 

Leucothoe prefers some shade, but can take more sun if water is available. 

Foliage on this evergreen shrub consists of coarse pointed leaves that are a deep green. Lovely fall color is a very showy reddish bronze to purple.

Plant your Leucothoe where winter winds won't dessicate the foliage and remember to water regularly in the absence of rain to keep the leathery foliage looking fresh and vibrant.

The arching branches look good along the edge of a path or massed in a shrub border. Leucothoe's small size make it an excellent foundation shrub too if it's not in too much sun.

Mature size is 2-4 feet tall, but Dog Hobble can get much larger in the deep South if water is plentiful. Ordinarily, Leucothoe is a moderately slow growing shrub that will not quickly outgrow its space.

Like many native shrubs, Leucothoe axillaris can be grown in almost every part of the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 5-11. 

Leucothoe is an excellent shrub to help control erosion on a shady bank. 

If you are looking for a low-maintenance plant for your landscape, Leucothoe is it. There are no disease problems, pruning is not required, and as long as water is available, you can just plant it and leave it for beauty year after year.

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