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Girard's Rainbow Leucothoe
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A showboat for the shade! Green is great, but sometimes you need to shake things up. Girard’s Rainbow Leucothoe (pronounced loo-COTH-oh-ee) is a fun, flirty Accent that makes shady spaces sparkle with its multicolored leaves. The lustrous green foliage, splattered with splashes of cream and coppery pink, will create an enchanting focal point in your landscape. Rosy red stems add definition, and in fall, burgundy tones in the leaves deliver even more drama. Rainbow Leucothoe’s spectacular foliage holds all year long, making this handsome Accent especially useful in high-visibility areas. Use it by your front door or next to a well-travelled path for all to see.
Girard’s Rainbow is a selection of Drooping Leucothoe, a plant native to the mountains of Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee. This species luxuriates in the cool air and rich soils of southern mountain woodlands and grows 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! Rainbow emerged from Girard Nurseries of Geneva, Ohio, in the 1950s.
Flowers, too! Girard’s Rainbow Leucothoe may win a place in your garden by virtue of its stunning evergreen leaves alone, but the blossoms are lovely as well. In spring, clusters of white blooms like tiny bells dangle from the gracefully arching stems.
How to Grow
Remember Drooping Leucothoe’s preferred natural habitat (mountain forests) for success in growing Girard’s Rainbow. 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. Girard’s Rainbow 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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