Highland Doghobble Leucothoe fontanesiana

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
dog hobble


Leucothoe fontanesiana, commonly known as the Highland Doghobble, Drooping Leucothoe, or Fetterbush, is an ornamental plant notable for its glossy, evergreen foliage and arching growth habit. The leaves are elongated and pointed at the tips, resembling lance heads. They have a leathery texture and often change colors with the seasons, turning from green to an attractive burgundy or deep red as the weather cools. Springtime brings clusters of small, bell-shaped flowers that hang from the arching branches. These blossoms are typically white or pale pink and have a delicate, almost ethereal appearance. They are pendulous and add a graceful, weeping effect to the plant's profile. The Highland Doghobble creates a dense, shrub-like appearance as the branches cascade and spread. The stems have a reddish tint, adding further interest to the plant's palette. Overall, it presents itself as an elegant shrub with a mix of color and texture, making it a coveted choice for gardeners seeking to add evergreen interest to shaded landscapes. It fits artfully into woodland gardens, along stream banks, or planted en masse to create a ground cover effect. The visual transitions across seasons ensure that the Highland Doghobble remains a focal point of beauty throughout the year.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Highland Doghobble, Drooping Leucothoe, Fetterbush, Mountain Doghobble.

    • Common names

      Agarista populifolia, Andromeda axillaris, Andromeda fontanesiana, Andromeda populifolia, Leucothoe axillaris, Leucothoe catesbaei, Leucothoe editorum, Leucothoe populifolia.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Leucothoe fontanesiana, commonly known as the Highland Doghobble, is considered toxic to humans if ingested. The plant contains harmful compounds that can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. It is important to avoid consuming any part of this plant to prevent these unpleasant and potentially harmful symptoms.

    • To pets

      Highland Doghobble is also toxic to pets, such as dogs and cats, if ingested. The ingestion of this plant can cause symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, depression, hypersalivation, and weakness in animals. It is crucial to prevent pets from consuming any part of the Highland Doghobble to avoid these toxic effects.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      3-6 feet (0.91-1.83 meters)

    • Spread

      3-6 feet (0.91-1.83 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      Southeastern United States


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Value: Leucothoe fontanesiana, commonly known as drooping leucothoe, is widely appreciated for its attractive evergreen foliage and cascading growth habit, making it ideal for adding aesthetic appeal to gardens.
    • Shade Tolerant: Drooping leucothoe thrives in shaded or partially shaded areas where other plants may struggle, thus offering a landscaping solution for low-light gardens.
    • Soil Erosion Control: Its dense and spreading nature helps stabilize soil, particularly in sloped areas, reducing the risk of erosion.
    • Habitat for Wildlife: Drooping leucothoe provides shelter and food for local wildlife, including birds and insects, thus promoting biodiversity in the area.
    • Seasonal Interest: This plant offers multi-season interest with its white to pinkish spring flowers, glossy summer leaves, and sometimes reddish or purple foliage in the fall.
    • Low Maintenance: Drooping leucothoe generally requires minimal care once established, making it an easy plant to maintain for gardeners of all skill levels.
    • Deer Resistance: Leucothoe fontanesiana is known to be relatively deer-resistant, helping to protect gardens in areas where deer browsing can be a problem.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Wildlife Habitat - Highland Doghobble provides dense shelter for small wildlife, including birds and beneficial insects, creating a safe nesting space or refuge.
    • Erosion Control - Due to its thick growth habit, Highland Doghobble is useful for stabilizing soil on slopes and preventing erosion in landscape settings.
    • Water Feature Accent - The plant can be placed around ponds or streams in a garden to enhance the naturalistic setting and complement water features.
    • Natural Dye - The leaves of Highland Doghobble can potentially be used to extract a natural green dye for textiles or crafts.
    • Fall Color Interest - Highland Doghobble adds visual interest to gardens in the fall with its colorful foliage, despite it mainly being an evergreen plant.
    • Winter Garden Interest - The evergreen leaves of Highland Doghobble provide greenery in winter landscapes when many plants are dormant.
    • Privacy Screening - When planted in groups, Highland Doghobble can form a low privacy screen in residential gardens due to its thick growing nature.
    • Theme Gardens - This plant can be included in a woodland or forest theme garden due to its natural habitat in the woodland areas of the southeastern United States.
    • Acidic Soil Indicator - Since Highland Doghobble thrives in acidic soils, its presence can indicate the pH level of the soil, assisting gardeners in soil assessment.
    • Bonsai - With appropriate training and pruning, Highland Doghobble can be grown as a bonsai, showcasing its small leaves and arching form in miniature.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Leucothoe fontanesiana, commonly known as Dog Hobble, is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Dog Hobble is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Adaptability: The Leucothoe fontanesiana, commonly known as Drooping Leucothoe or Highland Doghobble, is known for its adaptability to different environments, symbolizing the ability to thrive under varying conditions.
    • Survival: This plant's hardiness and capability to survive in shade make it a symbol of resilience and overcoming adversity in life.
    • Purity: The white, bell-shaped flowers of the Drooping Leucothoe signify purity and innocence, often associated with new beginnings and freshness.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Leucothoe fontanesiana, commonly known as the Dog Hobble, typically needs consistent moisture to thrive. It should be watered once a week with about a gallon of water, ensuring the soil is moist but not waterlogged. During the hot summer months, water twice a week if the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Reduce watering in the winter, when the plant is not actively growing. Always avoid overhead watering to minimize the risk of leaf spot diseases.

  • sunLight

    The Dog Hobble thrives in partial to full shade conditions. It is ideally suited for spots that receive filtered sunlight or dappled shade, avoiding direct afternoon sun which can scorch the leaves. It can tolerate some morning sun but should be protected from intense midday rays to prevent heat stress and fading of the foliage.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Dog Hobble prefers temperate conditions and does well in a range where the temperature is consistently between 40°F and 75°F. It can survive minimum temperatures down to 0°F and should not be exposed to temperatures above 85°F for prolonged periods. The ideal temperature range would be somewhere between 60°F and 70°F for optimal growth.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning Dog Hobble should be done to shape the plant and remove any damaged or diseased branches. The best time for pruning is in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Cutting back the tips of the branches can encourage denser growth. Pruning should not be overdone; generally once a year is enough unless you are removing the occasional broken or crossed branch.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Drooping leucothoe thrives in acidic soil with pH between 4.5 and 6.0. A well-draining soil mix with organic matter such as peat moss or compost is ideal. Mulch can help maintain soil moisture and acidity.

  • plantRepotting

    Drooping leucothoe should be repotted every two to three years or when it outgrows its current container.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Drooping leucothoe prefers high humidity levels but can tolerate average indoor humidity when other growing conditions are met.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place in bright, indirect light with moist, acidic soil.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade, sheltered from intense sun and wind.

    • Hardiness zone

      5-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Highland Doghobble (Leucothoe fontanesiana) begins its life cycle as a seed, which upon finding a suitable moist and shaded forest floor environment, germinates typically in spring. The seedling stage is characterized by the development of roots and a small shoot, which then grows into a juvenile plant with several leaves. As the plant matures, it enters a vegetative stage, developing a woody stem and elongated, oval leaves, and it forms a dense, rounded shrub that can reach up to 6 feet in height. Highland Doghobble enters the reproductive stage in late spring to early summer, producing drooping clusters of small, bell-shaped white flowers that are pollinated by insects. Following pollination, the flowers develop into capsule-like fruits, which contain numerous seeds that disperse into the surrounding environment by wind or water, or with the help of animals. The plant is perennial, so once it reaches maturity, it will continue to grow, flower, and produce seeds annually for many years, barring environmental or disease challenges.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • Propogation: Leucothoe fontanesiana, commonly known as the Highland Doghobble, is a plant that is best propagated during spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing. The most popular method of propagation for Highland Doghobble is through softwood cuttings. To do this, a gardener would take a cutting of about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) from the tips of healthy, new growth. The lower leaves of the cutting are removed, and the base of the cutting is dipped in a rooting hormone powder to encourage root development. Then, the cutting is placed in a moistened mix of peat and perlite, ensuring that the nodes where the leaves were removed are buried. The environment must be kept humid by covering the cutting with a plastic dome or bag and placing it in a warm, brightly lit area, but out of direct sunlight. Roots generally begin to form in a few weeks, and once established, the cutting can be transplanted into soil.