Leucothoe, Dog Hobble, Drooping Leucothoe, Fetterbush 'Girard's Rainbow'

Leucothoe fontanesiana

Family: Ericaceae (er-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Leucothoe (loo-KOH-thoh-ee) (Info)
Species: fontanesiana (fon-tay-nee-zee-AH-na) (Info)
Cultivar: Girard's Rainbow
Additional cultivar information:(aka Rainbow)
View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Light Shade


Grown for foliage


Good Fall Color



This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:



36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From woody stem cuttings

From softwood cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Oakland, California

Richmond, California

Stamford, Connecticut

Atlanta, Georgia

Gainesville, Georgia

Marietta, Georgia

Louisville, Kentucky

Zachary, Louisiana

Baltimore, Maryland

Centreville, Maryland

Piedmont, Missouri

Munsonville, New Hampshire

Haines Falls, New York

Ithaca, New York

Sayville, New York

Asheville, North Carolina

Davidson, North Carolina

Greensboro, North Carolina

Hayesville, North Carolina

Lake Toxaway, North Carolina

Statesville, North Carolina

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Harmony, Pennsylvania

Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Nashville, Tennessee

Hood, Virginia

Seattle, Washington

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Dec 6, 2013, sylvanj from Kiawah Island, SC wrote:

I haven't grown it in my garden because I believe it's too hot in the low-country, but I enjoy seeing it wild in the piedmont region of sc. I thought I'd just answer the question of the last commenter - When dog hunting for black bears was popular in the Appalachians, bears used to easily run through Leucothoe, the dogs would get stuck in the ropey stems of the thickets and lose the bear - hence the name doghobble


On May 3, 2013, paani from Saint Louis, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

woodspirit1 asked why it's called Dog Hobble. Here is what the ASPCA has to say:

Dog Hobble
Additional Common Names:
Dog Laurel, Fetter Bush, Black Laurel
Scientific Name:
Leucothoe sp.
Toxic to Horses, Toxic to Cats, Toxic to Dogs
Toxic Principles:
Clinical Signs:
Vomiting, diarrhea, depression, cardiovascular collapse, hypersalivation, weakness, coma, low blood pressure, death. Ingestion of a few leaves can cause serious problems.


On Sep 25, 2012, woodspirit1 from Lake Toxaway, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

These are very attractive plants with leathery shiny leaves. They tend to be the undergrowth in the woods beneath larger plants like wild rhoderdendron or mountain laurel. I have cut branches for arrangements in the past. I am not sure why they are called dog hobble. If anyone knows, please d-mail me.


On Apr 11, 2006, diamondpatch from kettering northamptonshire,
United Kingdom wrote:

found a plant i liked in my local garden centre,Seasons at Burton Latimer in Northants. Just a plant label , but no growing or planting details and we couldn,t find it in our plant books either, but i am sure this is it. Will let you know how i get on with it this year, Diamondpatch


On Oct 20, 2004, lmelling from Ithaca, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

I am delighted each spring with the pinks, creams, and variety of other shades this plant displays on it's foliage. The petite flowers just add to the list of reasons you should have this plant. Instead of using mine as a foundation plant, I have it presiding over the focal area of one of my backyard gardens. I keep it pruned to about a 2.5' - 3' height and width each spring after it flowers. It takes pruning very well and is quite a hardy little addition. Mine is in a location that gets morning and evening sun (zone 5), but is sheltered from the hot midday sun by pine trees. We have springs running throughout this garden so watering is only necessary during the dryest and hottest of summers, which isn't very often. Although moist, this garden is well drained, being on a slope. Othe... read more


On Oct 10, 2004, magnumta from Marietta, GA wrote:

This plant is susceptable to black spot. A spraying of fungicide cures the problem.