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A natural beauty! Coast Leucothoe (pronounced loo-COTH-oh-ee) is a fine native Accent that possesses many subtle charms. While it doesn’t boast big, flashy flowers, it carries itself with the utmost grace and has a distinguished presence in the garden all year-round. Smooth, glossy leaves and arching, zigzag stems bring an easy elegance to shady spaces. Delicate, crystal-white blossoms in spring add a splendid touch. At home in informal gardens but fancy enough for manicured landscapes as well, Coast Leucothoe completes designs of all types. Use it as a single specimen where a spot of evergreen cheer is needed, or mass plants to create a lush, low hedge.
Although Coast Leucothoe isn’t a common plant in gardens, it grows wild right here in the U.S. It inhabits moist, shady understories in the Southeast, from Virginia to Mississippi and Florida. Itgrows so thickly in some parts there that it has earned a couple of nicknames. Locals call it Fetterbush, because trying to walk through a stand of it is like walking in fetters (leg chains). They also call it Dog-Hobble, because dogs have the same difficulties getting through it. In the landscape, the plant is well behaved, so don’t be alarmed!
Coast Leucothoe foliage offers more than just pleasant greenery. In the spring, its shiny leaves often emerge an enchanting red color. They turn to green in summer, but when temperatures drop in fall, they heat up again, this time becoming suffused with warm burgundy-purple tones.
How to Grow
Coast Leucothoe requires attention to siting and aftercare for the best results. Afternoon shade is a must in hot climates, but more sun is acceptable where summers are mild and irrigation can be regularly supplied. Make sure the soil is acidic, moist, free-draining, and enriched with organic matter. Coast Leucothoe enjoys the same conditions as Rhododendrons and makes an excellent companion to them. Trim as needed to shape plants into a hedge or to maintain a grouping as a low groundcover, if you so desire. Great for areas with deer, as they generally avoid it.
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